What is a Mental Warm Up?

A Mental Warm Up refers to the first 8 – 10 minutes of a lesson.
Many people think that a Mental Warm Up is all about speed and racing through the tables facts to develop fluency. Practise sessions where calculations are performed to develop fluency can feature in a Mental Warm Up, but so can vocabulary development and consolidating understanding of key ideas.

Why Use Mental Warm Ups?

Mental Warm Ups are used for three different purposes:

  • To review or practise something that has been taught in the past. For example, basic number facts.
    High Impact Teaching Stategy Link: Multiple Exposures
  • To practise a skill that is required for the lesson to come. For example, multiply (×) and divide (÷) by 10, 100, 1000 when the lesson involves converting from centimetres to metres and vice versa.
    High Impact Teaching Stategy Links: Multiple Exposures, Mathematical Language
  • To pre-load some knowledge required for an upcoming lesson later on in the week. For example, vocabulary.
    High Impact Teaching Stategy Links: Structuring Lessons

Using this time as a Mental Warm Up helps get the lesson off to a good start. It settles students down and gets them ready to focus. The Mental Warm Up is the first part of a structured lesson approach, which is a High Impact Teaching Strategy.

After completing the Warm Up, teachers will then launch into the lesson by articulating the goals of the lesson (See also “A Guide to Teacher Planning”).