Starter activities

Every GCSE lesson has a starter activity and a model answer. The activities are focused on the content of the lesson and require no input from the teacher. You can simply display them on the board for when students come into the classroom. This ensures that there is no “down-time” at the beginning of a lesson as students arrive at different times.

At A level any of the micro-activities can be used as a starter.


The tasks are simple, frequently requiring students to look something up on the Internet that is related to the lesson.

The lesson focussed on RAM and ROM asks students to find out where “rope ROM” was used in a famous event in history, and why programmers in the past used “core dumps”.

The lesson focussed on caching asks students to count how many pieces of track a train runs around a model railway on an inner line to a station named, “cache”, and an outer line to a station called, “RAM” perfectly illustrating the advantage of caching. Although we provide these activities as starters, of course you can use them in any way you like. They are also ideal for mini plenaries.


Why starters are useful

The purpose of a starter is to provide what we call, “engagement on entry”. Students will often arrive at different times and you need to decide when the lesson should start. This is problematic as you don’t want to start the lesson only to have to repeat most of what you have just said. Equally you don’t want students having nothing to do until everyone else arrives. You need lessons to be self-starting and not dependent on who and how many students have arrived at the lesson. We like to pose questions on the board, get the students to find out more about a topic and complete very short activities. Critically, it doesn’t really matter if a student completes the activity or not. It is to engage them and get them thinking about the topic before the “real part” of the lesson begins. Students are therefore challenged from the get-go.

Good starters

  • Should not dominate a lesson.
  • Be reliant on how many students have arrived.
  • Require something that needs explaining.
  • Take too long to set up or take down.

Use Smart Revise instead

If you have our Smart Revise product, this is an excellent alternative to starter activities. Use the topic filters to lock all the topics except the ones that have been taught so far and ask students to use Quiz until you are ready to start the lesson. This provides the students with diagnostic low-stakes multiple choice questions.

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