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9 Lesson Hook Strategies to Launch Learning

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Photo of Alison Smith
Updated | 6 min read

When you’re starting a new lesson in your classroom, do you like to dive right in, or do you incorporate a lesson hook to grab your students’ attention and get them excited about learning? 

There’s nothing wrong with diving right into learning, but a good lesson hook strategy can make all the difference when it comes to engaging students and maximizing their learning. You can use your lesson hook to establish connections between existing knowledge and the new content, to help students understand how the content will connect to learning objectives, and a whole lot more. 

But how do you create good lesson hooks that will set your students up for success? Now that we’ve hooked you, our team of expert teachers has some advice for developing hooks for your lesson plans. 

Download dozens of teacher tools and templates, created by teachers! 

How Do You Write a Hook for a Lesson Plan?

A lesson hook is an introduction or opening into a lesson that grabs the students’ attention. A lesson hook provides teachers with an opportunity to inject energy into a new learning journey and to create an eagerness to find out more. Think of a rocket launch analogy; in order to reach the moon, an effective and impressive takeoff is critical.

Lesson hooks tend to work so well in the classroom because they frame thinking, focus on the concept at hand, and give learning objectives context. Lesson hooks make connections between existing knowledge and future learning. Have you ever asked your students to ‘hook’ the reader when they are creating texts? If that is a yes, then you will know how important it is to engage and connect with the audience from the onset. Stay with us for some “lesson changing” ideas for lesson introductions.

9 Awesome Lesson Hooks

Theming the Classroom

We’re going to start big here, and we hope that doesn’t scare you away. Theming your classroom can be an extremely effective lesson hook, but we know it can be time-consuming, so it certainly isn’t something you can do for every lesson (or even most of them!). 

Still, if you want to give it a try, there are countless ways to use decorations in the classroom as a great lesson hook. 

One of our favorites is to set up a picnic theme to introduce book reports. Set desks up like picnic tables with tablecloths and books everywhere. Send your students on a “book tasting” event to find the right book for their first report!

Explore dozens of classroom theme packs ready for download with everything you need to make over a classroom with a theme!

Feely Bags and Feely Boxes

One of our all-time favorites (that went down exceptionally well during a lesson observation) is the “feely” bag. This is ideal for lower elementary students and is a ‘rocket launcher’ for outstanding creative writing.

When you are introducing story settings, engage your students’ senses by filling a small bag with objects, smells, and even tastes from a particular location. Some settings are easier to capture in a sensory bag than others. The beach is a good place to start!

“Feely boxes” are based on the same concept as a “feely bag” and are well suited to setting up a feely box station.

They are perfect for introducing textures, shapes, and much more. Here’s an example of how to do it in a language lesson when learning about adjectives:

  • set up a feely box station
  • select items with distinct textures (soft, fluffy, rough, cold, smooth, bumpy)
  • separate the different textured items and allocate them to different boxes
  • provide the students with a basic results table to record their findings (optional)
  • work in small groups and take turns to feel inside each box
  • ask the students to describe verbally or in writing what the items in each box felt like
  • ask the students to write a sentence for each adjective.

Explore some of our teacher team’s favorite resources for talking about the five senses!


Conduct a Survey and Create a Graph

A great way to engage students is to put things into a real-life context and to make them personal. Surveying the class or the school community about age, birthplace, and/or ancestry is a perfect way to begin a math lesson or a geography investigation into the diversity of people who live in your country.

classroom chart using sticky notes

Upgrade those data analysis skills with a fun count and graph!


The Museum Walk

Mimic a visit to a museum in your classroom. This lesson hook is a great way to get students to observe, gather facts, and consider questions that are a catalyst for lines of inquiry.

Here’s how to do it:

  • display posters, data, maps, photographs, infographics, interesting props, or anything that displays the information that you want the students to absorb
  • briefly introduce the activity and pose a focus question.  For example, as you walk around the room, consider the question ‘ What does this information tell us about water use in our country?’
  • arrange the students at different starting points
  • encourage students to partner up and talk to each other as they make observations
  • depending on the age group that you are working on – ask them to put sticky notes on the display with questions or comments
  • give the students a 5-minute warning and a 1-minute warning before you ask the students to end their observations.
  • bring the students back together for a whole-class discussion.

A ‘Museum Walk’ is the perfect precursor to the visible thinking routine – I see,  I Think, I Wonder. This routine encourages students to make careful observations and thoughtful interpretations. It helps stimulate curiosity and sets the stage for inquiry.

I see I think I wonder bulletin board in a classroom


Play a Game

Who doesn’t love a good game? Check out our collection of classroom games to muster up enthusiasm and focus on the concept at hand.

While it’s ideal to find a game that has a clear link to the theme or concept of your lesson, don’t underestimate the power of playing a game that requires partnerships or collaboration to maximize learning throughout your lesson.

Here are some game ideas:

Guess Who game featuring different shapes

Use OneNote

Bring some digital technology into your catalog of lesson hooks by using OneNote. You could grab the attention of your class by posing a question on a OneNote page, asking the student to create a concept map of prior knowledge, or set up a digital version of I See, I Think, I Wonder.

 

Use Kinesthetic Hooks

Physical movement is a great way to increase focus and maximize learning. Here are some ways that you can use movement to get your party started:

  • Get out the jump ropes or speed hurdles for an outdoor mental math warm-up game. For example, recall multiplication facts while jumping rope or hurdles.
  • Try our Skip Counting by Twos or Fact Family Triangles to add some movement into math lessons.
  • Get out the batons for a grammar relay. For example, ask the students to run and exchange the baton and a common noun.
  • Make a human sentence with mini whiteboards when introducing the components of a simple or compound sentence.

skip counting by twos worksheets


Use Musical Hooks

Music can be used in multiple ways to create an ear-buzzing lesson hook. Here are some ways that you can use music to hook your students’ attention:

  • create the right mood or atmosphere as a stimulus for creative writing
  • let the lyrics of a catchy song introduce the focus of your lesson,( this is well suited to language and math lessons as there are so many educational songs for kids on YouTube) remember to be super vigilant with checking the advertisements and the content.
  • play a song as students enter the classroom and ask them to guess what concept or topic the song might be related to.
  • ask the class to write a song about a topic to express their existing knowledge about a topic or concept.

Invite a Guest Speaker

Tap into the knowledge base around you, and seek out experts in your local community. By mixing up the classroom routine with a guest speaker, you are sure to inject some excitement and anticipation about your next project.

You can even bring in a virtual speaker via Zoom to broaden your student’s horizons with a “visit” from an expert who lives halfway across the country! 

Explore hundreds of teacher-created resources to save you time on lesson planning!

Banner image via shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

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