Decentralised Teaching and Learning

“Not all who wander are lost”. J R R Tolkien

10 Minute Warmers (4) World ball throw

This is a variation on that old chestnut ‘Ball Throw’. In my version I use a ball with a world map on it – then learners talk about which countries they have been to.

10 minutes Warmers - World Ball Throw

Uber-busy teachers can download the whole lesson plan here.


Write the words “names”, “colours”, “verbs”, “positive adjectives” or whatever vocabulary set you’ve been doing on the WB. This gives learners some ‘thinking time’ before you start the warmer.

Lesson Plan

1. Form a circle. Say

We’re going to play a game – every time you throw the ball you should say one word. We’ll start with our names.

Teacher says name and throws ball. It’s not rocket science but if your learners have never done this before have a ‘practice round’ also.

Note: It’s always good to start with names (even if you all know each other)

2. The next person throws the ball to someone else in the circle saying their ‘word’. The next person does the same until everyone has spoken, or the ‘theme’ is exhausted (no one can think of more ideas). Go through four or five themes. Tell learners to sit down.

3. Hold up a world map ball. Say –

Ask me about countries I went to in the past.

What you’re doing here is diagnosing their knowledge of the correct form here – which is Present Perfect. For example, ‘Which countries have you been to?”, or “Have you ever been to ……” would be appropriate here. But learners will often say ‘Which countries did you go to?’. Elicit responses.

4. If they are unable to come up with the correct response – write
‘Which countries have you been to?’ on the WB.

5. Drill this phrase giving particular attention to the weak forms of ‘have’, ‘been’, ‘you’ and ‘to’. Correct pronunciation as appropriate – also try and get learners to listen to each other. Give credit for good attempts at pronunciation!

6. Go over meaning of the sentence and concept check e.g.

Are we talking about the past here or the present?.

7. Introduce answers to the questions: “I’ve been to…” and “I haven’t been to…” Pay attention to weak forms again. By the way, you don’t need to mention the word ‘grammar’ – just teach this as lexis!

8. Give each pair of learners a world map ball. Learners then talk to each other in pairs and ask: ‘which countries have you been to?’

9. Learners can report back to the group about which countries their partners have been to.

10. Stand up and have another round of ball throw, with everyone using the sentence

‘I’ve been to……..’!


Teacher can introduce more sophisticated language to the group after stage 10:

i) Longer sentences:

I’ve never been to ………… but I would love to go there. (point out ellipsis of ‘there’)

I’ve always wanted to go to …………… but I’ve never had the time/ money etc.

ii) Follow-up questions: What did you like about….?I

Would you go back (again)?

         What about you?/ And you?

iii) Answers:

…………….(country) is so pretty/ beautiful/ sunny in ……….( season)

It’s wonderful to visit then because…

You really should/ must go there. (ellipsis again)


Learners swap partners and have another conversation on the same theme, but try to use the more sophisticated vocabulary. Teacher monitors and assists as needed.

Hope that you find this warmer useful – if you have time I’d really appreciate it if you could fill in this one minute survey.

Also, world map balls can be bought in many shops. I got mine from a bookshop here in Berlin, and I expect to see a spike in sales!





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