21 Bell Ringers Activity Ideas For Middle School Students

Picture this: it’s a Monday morning and your middle school students are dragging their feet into class, still half-asleep and grumpy from the weekend. As a teacher, you know the importance of starting the day off on a positive note, and that’s where bell ringers come in. These quick and engaging activities are designed to wake up your students’ brains, get them thinking, and set the tone for the rest of the day.

From brain teasers to cultural explorations, story starters to current events, there are endless possibilities for bell ringers that will capture your students’ attention and spark their curiosity. By incorporating creative and fun bell ringers into your daily routine, you can help your middle schoolers to start each day with enthusiasm and a love of learning.

Ring in the learning: Why bell ringers are the ultimate brain boosters for students!

Bell Ringers are short, engaging activities that are completed by students at the start of a class period. They are designed to be quick, interactive, and fun, and are intended to get students thinking and engaged in the subject matter. Bell Ringers, can be for students, teachers, and adults, and can be used in any subject area, but they are particularly effective in language arts because they help build essential skills such as vocabulary, grammar, writing, and critical thinking.

One of the primary benefits of using Bell Ringers is that they help students transition into the classroom setting and get focused on the day’s lesson. This can be especially helpful for students who may be feeling distracted or disengaged, or who may be struggling with attention or focus. By starting each class with an engaging activity, students are more likely to be alert and ready to learn.

Bell Ringers also provide an opportunity for students to review and reinforce previously learned concepts. By revisiting important vocabulary, grammar, or writing skills on a regular basis, students are more likely to retain the information and feel more confident in their abilities. This can be particularly helpful for struggling students who may need extra practice or support to master the material.

Another benefit of using Bell Ringers is that they can be customized to meet the specific needs and interests of individual students or classes. For example, a teacher may choose to use vocabulary games or creative writing prompts that align with the interests of their students or that relate to a current unit of study. This can help make the activities more engaging and meaningful for students, which can in turn increase their motivation and enthusiasm for learning.

1. Language Arts Bell Ringer Ideas

1. Daily Word Play

Wordplay exercises help students to learn new words, understand their meanings, and improve their language skills. This activity aims to provide a daily word challenge for students to start the class off on a positive note.

For this language class bell ringer, teachers can select a word of the day and write it on the board. They can then ask students to brainstorm as many synonyms, antonyms, and related words as possible in 1-2 minutes as well as share their ideas and discuss the meanings and usage of the words. Serving as a vocabulary activity too, this activity enhances vocabulary skills, improves word association and creativity, and promotes class participation and discussion.

2. Picture Prompt

Picture Prompt

Pictures can evoke emotions, memories, and ideas that can inspire creative writing. While picture reading activities are exceptionally effective with pre-schoolers, this activity is tailored for middle schoolers and aims to use images as writing prompts for students to start writing immediately.

For this quirky bell ringer, display a picture on the board or distribute it to students. Next, Ask students to write a descriptive paragraph or a short story inspired by the picture and encourage students to use their senses and vivid language to describe the setting, characters, and plot. Through this activity, teachers can promote creativity, enhance descriptive writing skills, and provide visual cues for imagination and inspiration.

3. Grammar Minute

Many grammar quotes suggest that grammar skills are essential for effective communication and writing. This activity aims to provide daily practice for grammar concepts to reinforce learning and build mastery.

Language teachers need to select a grammar concept such as subject-verb agreement or sentence structure. Then, write a sentence or two on the board with errors related to the chosen concept. Finally, students have to identify and correct the errors. This quick activity improves grammar skills, enhances critical thinking, and reinforces learning.

4. Literary Quotes

Literature is a rich source of inspiration, ideas, and wisdom. This activity aims to use quotes from famous authors to inspire critical thinking and analysis. Beginning a language class with a quote can be the ultimate respect for a subject. 

For this bell ringer,  display a quote from a literary work on the board and ask students to interpret the meaning and context of the quote. These quotes can be about special education, success, and even subjects like math, or any other topic of the student and teacher’s choice.

Teachers can make this activity more interesting by encouraging students to connect the quote to the text, author, and current events. Thereby, enhancing literary analysis skills, and providing exposure to different writing styles and perspectives.

5. Journaling

Journaling is a reflective practice that can improve writing, comprehension, and emotional regulation. This activity aims to provide a daily opportunity for self-expression and reflection and can even be a one-liner, talking about the highlight of the day. Furthermore, teachers can also use a few diary entry examples for this activity. 

For this activity, teachers can ask students to write a response to a prompt or a question related to the class topic or current events. By encouraging students to use personal experiences and emotions in their writing and providing time for sharing and discussion, this activity can be both cathartic and educational. 

2. Math Bell Ringer Ideas 

1. Math News

Math is all around us, and there are many interesting and relevant news stories related to math concepts and applications. This activity aims to use math news stories as a way to engage students and promote math literacy.

For this bell ringer activity, choose a news story related to math concepts or applications. Summarize the story and present it to the class and encourage students to discuss the math concepts involved and their relevance to daily life. Through this activity, educators can promote math literacy, critical thinking, and real-world application of math concepts.

2. Math Puzzles

 Math Puzzles

Acting as a great math manipulative, math puzzles can be an engaging way to practice math skills, promote teamwork and collaboration, and improve logical thinking. This activity aims to use puzzles as a fun and challenging bell ringer activity.

Simply, choose a math puzzle such as a Sudoku or crossword puzzle. Write the puzzle on the board or distribute it to students. Then, allow students to work in pairs or groups to solve the puzzle. This bell ringer activity promotes logical thinking, teamwork, and collaboration, and provides a fun and challenging way to practice math skills.

3. Math Vocabulary

Math vocabulary is essential for understanding and communicating math concepts. Besides other math vocabulary activities, this activity aims to provide daily practice for math vocabulary skills. This simple activity would take the initial 5 minutes of the class, in which the teacher can simply choose a math term or concept and write it on the board.

Then, the teacher can ask students to brainstorm as many related words, synonyms, and antonyms as possible. Students can be encouraged to use the words in sentences and discuss the meanings and connections between the words. This activity enhances math vocabulary skills, promotes class participation and discussion, and reinforces math concepts.

4. Problem of the Day

Daily math problems can help students practice and reinforce math concepts, improve problem-solving skills, and build confidence. This activity aims to provide a daily math challenge for students to start the class off on a positive note.

For this bell ringer, teachers can choose a math problem related to the current topic or skill and write the problem on the board or distribute it to students. Then, giving students a set amount of time to solve the problem and discussing their solutions as a class, can help reinforce previous learning and set a base to start the class with a quick revision. 

5. Number Sense

Number sense is the foundation of math skills and is crucial for understanding and applying math concepts. This activity aims to provide daily practice for number sense skills.

As the activity enhances number sense skills, promotes creativity and critical thinking, and reinforces math concepts, it can be a perfect way to start the class. Teachers need to choose a number and write it on the board. Then, ask students to brainstorm as many ways as possible to represent the number using different operations and forms. When the activity is done,  students can be encouraged to discuss their ideas and strategies.

3. Science Bell Ringer Ideas 

1. Scientific Sketches

Welcome to “Scientific Sketches”! This bell ringer activity is designed to promote scientific observation and visual communication skills. In this activity, we will use our pencils and paper to capture the beauty and intricacies of natural and man-made objects.

Each day, you will be presented with a different object to sketch, and you will have a set amount of time to complete your drawing. This fun and interactive activity will promote creativity and engagement in science by allowing you to explore and interpret the world around you. Get ready to sharpen your pencils and start sketching!

Display an image of a natural or man-made object on the board. Ask students to observe the object closely, paying attention to its texture, shape, and color. Give each student a sheet of paper and a pencil. Ask the students to sketch the object as accurately as possible, including as much detail as they can. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes, depending on the complexity of the object, and have the students begin sketching.

After the set time, ask the students to stop and compare their sketches with their classmates. Discuss similarities and differences in the sketches and what details each student chose to include. Repeat the activity with a different object each day.

2. Cell Organelles

Understanding cell organelles is an important concept in biology that middle school students often find challenging. To create a bell ringer activity around this concept, provide a description of a specific organelle and ask students to identify the organelle based on the description. 

Alternatively, provide a picture of a cell and ask students to label each organelle. Encourage students to discuss their approaches and solutions with their peers. This activity promotes critical thinking, observation, and collaboration skills while reinforcing a fundamental concept in biology.

3. Quick Experiment

Quick Experiment

Science class can be a whole lot of fun if quick experiments are introduced as bell ringers. Teachers can conduct a quick experiment at the start of class that illustrates a scientific concept. For instance, demonstrating the concept of density and how it affects the movement of objects in liquids. Teachers can fill the glass jar or bottle about one-third full with water.

Then, add a few drops of food coloring (optional) to the water and stir it to distribute the color evenly. Once the color is mixed, they can slowly pour vegetable oil into the jar until it is almost full, leaving about an inch of space at the top.

The students can Observe what happens to the oil and water in the jar.  Some small objects, like a grape or a paperclip, can also be added to see how they behave in the jar. Quick experiments can be excellent bell ringers to either introduce a concept or reinforce a previously learned concept. 

4. Science News

Science News is an engaging and interactive activity that can be used to keep students updated on the latest scientific discoveries and breakthroughs. In this activity, students are given a short news article related to science and are asked to read it carefully. 

For a bell ringer activity for middle school students, teachers can choose a short news article related to science and ask students to read it and summarize the key points in one or two sentences. The article can be about a recent scientific discovery, an environmental issue, or a breakthrough in technology.

You can also provide a list of questions related to the article to help guide students in their understanding of the topic. This activity will help students develop their critical thinking skills, keep them up-to-date with current events in the scientific world, and encourage them to engage with science in a fun and interactive way.

 3. Social Studies Bell Ringer Ideas 

1. Visual Analysis Bell Ringer

. Visual Analysis Bell Ringer

Visual Analysis Bell Ringer” involves students analyzing a photograph or visual representation and sharing their observations and thoughts. In general, this type of bell ringer can be adapted to various topics and themes in social studies by presenting students with different types of visual representations, such as maps, graphs, charts, or primary source documents, and asking them to analyze and discuss what they see.

This type of activity helps students develop critical thinking skills, visual literacy, and historical and cultural awareness. For instance, teachers can distribute copies of a famous photograph from the Civil Rights Movement, such as the image of Ruby Bridges entering a desegregated school or the “I Am a Man” protest signs from the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike. Asking the students to spend a few minutes studying the photograph and writing down their observations about what they see.

Teachers can lead a class discussion about the photograph, asking students to share their observations and what they think the photograph represents in terms of the Civil Rights Movement as a whole. Finally, finish the bell ringer by asking students to share one thing they learned or found interesting about the Civil Rights Movement from the photograph and discussion.

2. Social Justice Bell Ringer

The social justice bell ringer idea helps students develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills by encouraging them to brainstorm creative solutions to social justice issues. It also fosters empathy and encourages students to take action to make a positive impact on their communities.

For this activity, write a social justice issue on the board, such as homelessness, poverty, or gender inequality. Ask students to spend a few minutes brainstorming as many ideas as they can think of for how they can make a positive impact on the issue. After a few minutes, ask students to share their ideas with the class, and write them down on the board.

Once all ideas have been shared, lead a class discussion about the most effective ways to make a positive impact on the issue. Finish the bell ringer by asking students to choose one idea from the list to commit to doing in the next week or month. Finally,  encourage them to share their progress with the class in future bell ringers.

3. Current Events Bell Ringer

The Current Events bell ringer idea fosters the awareness of current events and their impact on society and helps students develop their reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. For this bell ringer, choose a news article related to a current event and distribute copies to the students. Ask students to spend a few minutes reading the article and writing a brief summary of it.

Once everyone has finished reading and summarizing the article, lead a class discussion about the event and its impact on society or individuals. Ask students to share their thoughts on how the event relates to their own lives or experiences, and what they think can be done to address any issues or problems related to the event.

Finish the bell ringer by encouraging students to stay up-to-date on current events by reading news articles and following news outlets, and reminding them of the importance of staying informed and engaged in their communities.

4. Cultural Diversity Bell Ringer

.  Cultural Diversity Bell Ringer

The “Cultural Diversity Bell Ringer” activity is a fun and engaging way for middle school students to learn about different cultures from around the world. Each week, a different culture is selected, and students are provided with resources to research various aspects such as food, traditions, and celebrations. 

Throughout the week, students spend a few minutes each day learning about the culture, and at the end of the week, they create a cultural collage or video highlighting what they learned. During class time, students present their creations to the class, which allows for a fun and interactive way to share knowledge and promote cultural diversity. This activity helps students develop their research and presentation skills while fostering their appreciation for cultural diversity.

5. Geography Bell Ringer

The “Geography Bell Ringer” activity is a fun and interactive way for middle school students to learn about the world around them. This activity can be conducted in a number of ways, such as presenting a map or globe and asking students to locate and label specific countries, cities, or landmarks. 

Alternatively, students could be given a blank map and asked to draw and label their own maps based on a specific theme, such as climate or natural resources. This activity helps students develop their spatial awareness and critical thinking skills, while also promoting their knowledge of geography and world cultures. By incorporating a variety of visual aids and activities, this bell ringer helps to make geography come alive for middle school students.

4. Miscellaneous Bell Ringer Ideas 

1. Brain teasers Bell Ringer

The “Brainteasers Bell Ringer” activity is a fun and challenging way for middle school students to start their day. Each day, a new brain teaser or riddle is presented to students, and they are asked to solve it either individually or in groups. Below are some brain teasers for middle schoolers.

 Brain teasers Bell Ringer
  1. What is always in front of you but can’t be seen? (Answer: The future)
  2. What has a heart that doesn’t beat? (Answer: An artichoke)
  3. I am not alive, but I grow; I don’t have lungs, but I need air; I don’t have a mouth, but water kills me. What am I? (Answer: Fire)
  4. What has a neck but no head, and wears a cap but has no hair? (Answer: A bottle)
  5. What starts with an E, ends with an E, but only contains one letter? (Answer: An envelope)

These brain teasers require critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, which helps students to develop their cognitive skills while also promoting collaboration and teamwork. Additionally, these activities are a great way to engage students and keep them motivated and excited about learning. By incorporating brainteasers into their daily routine, teachers can help their students develop a love for learning that lasts a lifetime.

2. Story Starters Bell Ringer

The “Story Starters Bell Ringer” activity is a creative and engaging way for middle school students to develop their writing skills. In this activity, students are given a prompt or sentence to start a story and are then asked to continue writing for a few minutes. This activity encourages creativity, imagination, and critical thinking, while also providing a fun and low-pressure way for students to practice their writing skills.

By incorporating this activity into their daily routine, teachers can help students to become more confident and proficient writers, while also promoting a love of reading and storytelling. Overall, the “Story Starters Bell Ringer” activity is a great way to inspire creativity and encourage students to express themselves through writing.


Bell ringers are an important part of any middle school classroom, as they help to engage students, promote critical thinking, and set the tone for the rest of the day. With a wide range of creative and engaging activities to choose from, teachers can also use bell ringer questions to encourage students to think outside the box, develop their writing and analytical skills, and foster a love of learning. 

By making bell ringers a regular part of your classroom routine, you can create a positive and engaging learning environment that will benefit your students both inside and outside of the classroom.

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