Bell Ringer Activities and Tips for Starting a Class On the Right Note

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Why use Motivational Devices?

A motivational device is anything that promotes order and jump-starts the lesson.Music, quotes, interesting facts or pictures all work as motivational devices.Starting each lesson with one can reinforce the material being taught and enhance classroom organization.A focus or bell ringer activity is basically the same thing; a quote, presentation or query that serves as a beginning point for the lesson and motivates students to concentrate on the material being taught.

Be Clear and Consistent

Consistent use of motivational devices and bell ringer activities establishes a classroom routine and minimizes distractions. One successful approach is to open each lesson in a way that gets the students settled and thinking about the topic at hand. For example, post an interesting fact about the subject matter being covered on the blackboard, screen, or SMARTboard each day. I learned this from my supervising teacher during student-teaching. When covering Ancient Egyptians, he would post an “Amazing Fact” on the board each morning and students would copy it into their notes upon entering the room. He would then begin the lesson by reading the fact aloud and answering any questions that might arise. Usually, the “Amazing Facts” pertained to the day’s lesson but occasionally they just dealt with ancient Egypt in general. When it was my turn to choose, I often used the book “Amazing Facts about Ancient Egypt” by James Putnam. The daily “Amazing Fact” proved to be a simple and effective way of quieting the students and initiating the lesson.

The use of motivational devices such as bell ringer activities should be explained to students on the first day of class along with the fact that they are expected to start the activity as soon as thy get into their seats. If it is an “Amazing Fact”, students should record it in their notes. Questions should be answered in their notebooks and they should be prepared to discuss it during the class. Pictures must be examined and any activity the teacher has planned should be considered important to the lesson and participated in. They should also be made aware that the motivational devices you choose will be incorporated into the unit tests.

Sites Where Teacher Can Find Ideas for Bell Ringer Activities



  • Historical photos for World History can be found at
  • Many photos from American History are available at


  • World of has many famous and infamous quotes organized by topic and author. It also has a large collection of proverbs and historical documents and a Today in History calendar of significant events.
  • has quotes categorized by topic, author, theme, nationality, and type (i.e. by a coach, President, economist etc.)