27 July 2020

Warm Up Booklets

Over the last few days I've been preparing a webinar that I'll be running for NQT and RQT maths teachers in late August. In this webinar I plan to talk about routines and resources when teaching in 'bubbles'.

Pandemic rules dictate that most of us won't have our own classroom for a while. Instead we'll be moving around school between lessons. I've been a 'nomadic' teacher before, when I was part-time after my children were born and I didn't have my own classroom, so I have some experience of carrying my equipment around all day. It's not ideal!

I used to find moving classroom between lessons added an extra level of challenge to an already challenging job. A smooth start to the lesson (including greeting students at the door with a calm, un-frazzled smile and inviting them into a fully prepared classroom) is hard to achieve when you have to fight your way through a crowded corridor and then wait five minutes for the computer to switch on. 

There are additional challenges this year though - teachers are not allowed to move around classrooms, and our students aren't meant to move around during lessons either. For me, this means I'll either introduce new ways of distributing handouts (certainly possible) or I'll eliminate handouts altogether (desirable, and better for the environment, though difficult for some topics). 

At my school we plan to use laptops to get round the issue of waiting for computers to log in at the start of each lesson. So when we arrive in a classroom, where our students will be sat waiting for us, we will just have to plug our laptop into the screen and then we can get started. Even though this should be super quick, there will still be a short delay before we can get a starter activity on the board. Our students may have already been sitting there for a couple of minutes when we arrive (because we'll have been teaching maths to a different year group in a different corridor). I hate wasted time in the classroom and the thought of them just sitting there unoccupied makes me sad. So I have been toying with numerous ideas and my chosen solution is...

the warm up booklet!

This is nothing new or original or particularly exciting, but it is something I haven't done before. 

I usually like to plan each lesson starter in response to how students got on in the previous lesson. Since I blogged about 'regular recall' starters back in 2018 (see Gems 87) I've been using that format with most classes. As well as the important retrieval practice, I like it that this format features a 'last lesson' element which allows me to recap the last thing I taught and address any misconceptions that arose. Because these starters are responsive, I plan them the day before I teach the lesson. 

I'm going to have to live without the 'last lesson' element for now though, because until the bubble teaching is over, I have decided to plan all of my starters in advance, at the start of every half-term.

So this is how it will work:
  1. Hand out warm up booklets in the first lesson of the year.
  2. Students keep these inside the back cover of their exercise book (attached with treasury tags).
  3. Students start working on their daily warm up before I even arrive (in theory!).
  4. Students are under strict instructions not to move onto the next day's questions (having used booklets in my teaching before, I know this can be an issue!).
  5. When I arrive I set up my laptop and do the register while they finish their warm up.
  6. I have my own copy of the booklet which I put under the visualiser to go through the answers, while students self-mark.

Good plan, right? 

You know what they say about plans...

Anyway, I've now made my booklets for my Year 7 class, which are almost entirely made up of old SATs questions. This means that all my Year 7 warm ups for Autumn 1 consist of retrieval questions for topics taught in Years 1 to 6. Huge thanks to David Morse because I used the SATs resources on his website Maths4Everyone.com to make these. 

I've tried to make each warm up accessible and relatively short (in order to maximise lesson time). I haven't met my class yet so I have no idea if I've pitched it right, but I expect my class to be similar to the Year 7 class I had last year, so I have an idea of what level they might be working at. There's a page of puzzles at the back in case I have anyone super speedy (these puzzles are taken from mathinenglish.com). If this plan goes well and I decide to make another booklet for Autumn 2, I won't do it until October half-term, once I've got to know the class.

I've shared an editable version of this booklet on TES in case teachers want to borrow and edit it. If you print double-sided, it's only seven sheets per student. And an advantage of doing this upfront is that it will save time when things get really busy.

Of course, I do not claim to have invented starter booklets. I just haven't used them before and feel that now (during weird global pandemic times) is a good time to start using them. And because I spent a few hours making one for my Year 7 class, I thought it might be worth sharing.

Here are a couple more starter booklets that are worth a look if you are thinking of doing this:


The 5-a-day resources from Corbett Maths might work well for those of you looking to make this kind of booklet for GCSE classes too (I know some schools have already been doing this for years!).

I hope this helps save teachers some time when getting ready for September. 


  1. This has worked for me using corbettmaths 5-a-days and settlers from mathsbox

  2. You are a remarkable human! Definitely my first go-to when I start my planning. Thank you for continuing to share and help out the Maths community. Will be using this idea with my Year 7's and 8's when we start back in September :)

  3. This is fantastic, thank you!

  4. Thank you. I take so much inspiration from you, and your generosity. All the best.