Saturday, March 12, 2011

Door Busters: 30+ ideas

They are called many things: door busters, do-nows, entrance activities, bell ringers.  Having a short activity to get kids thinking about class as soon as they walk in the door gives me the space and time to take attendance, get absent kids their work, conference with a student, or collect and return homework.  It is a good practice that many teachers use and I learned about in college through the book The First Days of School.

However, sometimes it is very easy to get into a routine, using the same type of activity day after day.  In an effort to brainstorm some new ideas, I came up with the following list.  Some activities also make great exit activities as well.

  • Analyze a quote - historical or not
  • This Day in History
  • BBCs list of History through 100 objects
  • A video of a news story from the previous evening
  • Analyze a political cartoon, photograph, or paragraph from a primary source
  • A few multiple-choice questions
  • Journal question
  • A wordle of a primary source, news story, or speech
  • A text poll (if you can have students use their cell phones or are in a 1:1 situation)
  • Think-Pair-Share on a question
  • Create a Venn Diagram or a Double Bubble graphic organizer on a topic
  • KWL chart
  • Vocabulary introduction or concept mapping
  • Uncle Jay Explains the News
  • Listen to a contemporary or historical song and respond to the lyrics
  • View a biography of a great person in history (especially in months dedicated to certain topics)
    • September - Hispanic Heritage Month
    • February - African American History 
    • March - Women's History
  • Have students call in or text their response to a video or picture at Voice Thread
  • Write a question on the board and have students respond on the board.  Check out this picture from @dontworryteach.  This is especially great if you have an interactive white board.
  • Have students place themselves on a continuum in response to a question
  • Analyze a map, chart, or graph to review historical skills
  • Jot down a list of tweets or facebook updates from a historical figure
  • View a short video of a job or occupation - list some of the skills needed for this job or questions students have about the job.  
  • Have a student suggest a discussion question
  • Who Am I? or other content related riddles
  • Daily Geography Series - introduce or review a geography concept each day
  • Have students review learning objectives and assess their progress
  • Have students reflect on yesterday's lesson and predict what they will do in class today
  • Brainstorm a list of artifacts for a museum display on a theme covered in class
  • Brainstorm a list of artifacts for a time capsule
  • Take a virtual tour of a historic site
  • Write an ode or poem about an event or person
  • Comment on a blog post
This is by no means an exhaustive list.  What ideas did I miss?


  • Distribute creative name tags with characters, historical figures, etc. as students walk in.  Have them answer a question about the person and "mingle" for a few minutes.


  1. fantastic article. FANTASTIC!!! thanks for posting it. its going on my great resources list.

  2. Miss A-
    Your list is fabulous! I look forward to seeing more!