Warm up activities

Using metaphors to express thoughts

This warm-up activity can be used to gain students' reactions about assigned readings.
Using metaphors to express thoughts
Educator prep: None
Student prep: None
Video conferencing, Breakout rooms, Shared online space
Duration: 5-30 mins

Activity purpose

This is a warm-up activity and it could also be a fun introductory activity. It can be used in the literature classes, or any classes involving readings where the teacher would like the students to offer an affective response to the reading. It is mostly used at the beginning of each class especially when instructors start presenting a new text for the first time whether or not this text is a short story, a poem, or an article. The main purpose of this activity is to attract learners to the new text and to show to what extent they prepared themselves to discuss this text in the class.

Useful for

Informally expressing thoughts and feelings can establish a good start for understanding and analysing the text from different perspectives, and accordingly, it shows the learners' responses. It is also useful for enhancing the skills for constructing coherent creative views through working in groups.


Students should read the new text before class, to get a general idea and to construct a specific feeling towards its ideas, and its style’s characteristics as well.


  1. At the beginning of class, ask participants to express privately (via private chat or a Google form) their opinions, impressions about the text using one fixed sentence: 'The text of today [title of the text...] made me remember the [name a metaphor, for example, any kind of foods or drinks]. I definitely like/dislike this [the mentioned metaphor]'.
  2. The teacher can select, from the introduced metaphors, three or four metaphorical sentences. Then ask the participants who like/dislike [the selected metaphors] and gather four or five of them in one group.
  3. After dividing the participants into four or five groups based on their preferences toward the named metaphor. The teacher will ask the students to write the selected metaphorical sentences and read them aloud.
  4. The teacher will divide the class into groups in the break-out rooms to discuss how they express their feelings toward the text using their preference from the metaphors.
  5. Students are encouraged to be creative and express their own views using their previous knowledge about the text and how they analyse or critique a text. They are also encouraged to write down the summary of their discussion in a group in Google docs.
  6. After doing the task within groups, the teacher will invite each group to present their thoughts about the text and the similarities between its thoughts and style’s features and preferred or disliked metaphors.
  7. In addition, learners may share the link of their Google docs file through the chat to enable the rest of the class to follow them. Alternatively, the teacher can pre-create the Google docs that students will use and place them in one folder for all to see/edit.


  • Writing the metaphorical sentences to the instructor in the chat could take 2-3 minutes.
  • Dividing the students into groups based on their preferences of metaphors will be through using the public chat, and accordingly, it could take around 3 minutes as well.
  • The teacher can choose how long to keep students in the breakout rooms

Adaptations and examples

In each class, the teachers may change the type of metaphor. They may ask students to use other things unlike the foods and drinks to suit different class discussions and to attract their learners to express effectively their feelings toward any kind of content they are required to study.

Technical requirements

Video conferencing software, for example, Zoom, chat and breakout rooms options, and Google docs.

Useful resources

More 'Warm up activities' activities:
Equity Unbound Activity
Would you rather?
This fun icebreaker can be used to spark interesting conversations in class.
Frank Tontala
Equity Unbound Activity
What Can You Do with a …?
This is an engaging activity that can be used as a warm-up before class.
Noha El-Sebai
Equity Unbound Activity
Imaginary Buffet (or Potluck)
The purpose of this activity is to engage students with each other’s ‘small talk’, by making a game out of active listening.
Maya Hey

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