Odd One Out | ESL Warm-Up Game | English Grammar

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Odd One Out: A fun warm-up game

Are you the teacher who likes to jump right into the lesson and not waste time? That may work for you, but it might not be working for the students!

Think about it this way. Students may not have spoken a word of English since your class last week. Ease them back into it with a quick warm-up like this one, Odd One Out

Don’t Forget a Warm-Up in your English Classes

I always use warm-up games or activities in my classes. It can be pretty hard for our students to come in, sit down, and then just immediately get into the meat of the lesson. I like to give them time to warm-up their brains, and think, speak, read, write, and listen in English.

I find spending a few minutes at the beginning of a lesson is certainly not a waste of time because it makes the rest of the class go that much more smoothly. It also allows some time for the latecomers to get to class without interrupting the most important things you want to cover that day.

An Introduction to the Odd One Out Warm-Up Game

This warm-up game is a quick warm-up game that can be used for beginners to intermediates. I’ve used it with kids and adults and most groups seem to like it. It makes an excellent review activity for vocabulary from the previous lessons.

The name of this ESL Warm-up game is called odd one out. The way it works it that there are some sets of words on the board. Some of the best topics include: body parts, shapes, colours, seasons and foods. But use your imagination and you’ll find that almost anything can work.

For higher level students, you can use more “abstract” things where there are many possible answers. You can also use more difficult vocabulary words.

You may also want to use this an a warm-up for a holiday lesson about Christmas, Halloween, or Thanksgiving. Here are more tips for these special classes: ESL Halloween Activities.

Some Examples: 

1. apple/orange/onion/banana

2. ankle/toe/leg/mouth

3. TV/cup/credit card/table

4. Amoeba/triangle/Aloe Vera plant/platypus

The students have to think about which one is different and also say why. If you don’t make students say why, the activity is too easy and takes about 10 seconds!

As you can see, the first three examples are pretty easy and would be appropriate for beginner students, while #4 is appropriate for higher level students.

Here are the answers for the previous four examples.

1. onion, because not a fruit.

2. mouth, because upper 1/2 of body.

3. cup, because it’s a round shape.

4. triangle, because it’s not a living thing.

Alone, or in Pairs

I usually put my students into pairs and they have to write down their answers. The first 2 teams with answers that make sense get a prize of some sort. They’d have to write something like:

#1: Onion, not fruit.

Learn More about this ESL Warm-Up Activity

Check out this short video below for every more information about Odd One Out:

More ESL Warm-Ups

39 ESL Warm-Ups: For Kids (7+)
List Price:$13.99
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If you liked this ESL warm-up activity, then you’ll need to check out this book: 39 ESL Warm-Ups for Kids (7+).There are almost 40 engaging, interesting activities to help get your classes started off in style.

Get your students engaged, and ready to learn with these fun warm-ups. There are enough activities in here to get through the semester in style.

The key to happy, engaged students who are learning English is to mix things up in your classroom. This book will help you do just that. It really is that easy.

You can get the book on Amazon in both print and digital formats. The (cheaper!) digital copy can be read on any device (Mac, PC, tablet, Smartphone) by downloading the free Kindle reading app.

Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office and use it as a handy reference guide. Or, take a copy with you on your phone or tablet for lesson planning at your favourite coffee shop.

Check out the book for yourself on Amazon and get ready to plan your lessons in no time. The first few minutes of each class will basically plan themselves!

—>39 ESL Warm-Ups for Teenagers and Adults<—

Odd One Out: A fun ESL Warm-Up

Have your Say about this Quick Warm-Up Game

What are your thoughts about Odd-One-Out? Or, do you have another go-to warmup activity that you like to use at the beginning of your English classes? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. It’ll help other teachers, like yourself find this useful teaching resource.

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One Comment

  1. Lillian Tighe

    I use a vocab game called Grab it. I bring a variety of real items about 15 or so in a bag. My favorite is personal hygiene items like the shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste. I show first item, say it, they repeat. Next item, show item, i say theyrepeat plus show first item I say it and they repeat. Add third item I say, they repeat. then show first item and second I say again and they repeat. Continue for all items. By this time the students have seen and heard and said vocab so any times they are ready for the” grab it” part. On a small table in the front of the room I put all the items in the middle. two students on opposite sides of the table. I call an item, wherever gets it first wins that item I keep going until all the items have been grabbed. The one with the most is the winner. The game goes pretty quickly so you can play as many rounds as you want. At the end the highest winners play each other or me. Throughout this game the students see and repeat the vocab so many times they have learned it for keeps.

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