Last letter first letter, more commonly known here as shiritori, is a game I am sure we have all played at some point and it makes a great warm up game for junior high classes.

Basic Info

Time: 5 - 15 minutes
Level: Junior high grade 1 - 3
Works with: Vocabulary, spelling practice
Class size: Medium to large

You will need:

  • nothing (although if all the students have dictionaries, which they should, this is helpful)


  1. Divide the class into two teams. Put a starter word up on the board (eg: potato).
  2. Students should raise their hand once they have come up with a word that starts with the last letter of the previous word. (In this case the second word might be open.)
  3. Alternate which team gets to supply the word, but if no one from the team has a word in 10 seconds, go to the next team. Once someone has supplied a word they must sit down and can't raise their hand, but they can help their teammates.

Continue until everyone is sitting down or the time runs out.


  • Let 1st graders use their dictionaries. It might feel like cheating, but it will be too hard for many without and using them actually builds dictionary skills. On top of that, when the students try sounding out new words you get to correct them which will help them become familiar with what letter combinations make what sounds. (Here's a game to challenge students hearing similar English sounds.)


  • You could make it a competitive relay game with a few teams. Divide the class into teams by row, divide the blackboard into columns for each team. At the top of each column, write a word to start with (same for each team or different, both work). First person comes up and writes a word, returns and then the next person comes up. Continue until time runs out.
    If you do this several times in a row, first let teams get points for having the same words. Next time, tell the class if a word is doubled up, both teams get no points for that word.
  • Make it an individual challenge. Everyone must stand up (let them use their dictionaries if they want). Write a word up on the board. The first student to raise his/her hand gets to say the second word and gets to sit down. Write up the second word and choose the student to give the third word. Continue until everyone is sitting down or time runs out.


  • This game can be tricky for 1st graders because for most, 1st grade is the year they start learning how to write in English. However this is a really good game to practice using the dictionary which in turn builds basic alphabet knowledge.


This is one of my go-to warm ups when I don't have something specific I want to try and no time to prepare. Here's a list of more preparation-free warm ups to try in junior high school English class.


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