I would be really interested to hear how teachers in Spanish classes do warm up activities, especially with the lower levels. I tried to do some with cultural points in English from a trivia book with a Junior High class last semester but we started the class out with way too much English for my taste.
My Junior High kids really need some sort of structure too. So I don't mind experimenting with them. What I started doing by the end of the semester with the 7th graders was to have 4-5 mini statements and have them fill in the blanks with the correct word. It would be reviewing words we've gone over.
What I should maybe do is change the activity from that. Right now I have them matching the words together. Maybe I should do 'unscramble', groupings or have them make up logical sentences with certain words. Maybe they could remove a word from a sentence that doesn't quite fit. I guess I have more possibilities than I realized.
Since we use a lot of spoken language, I thought this would be a way to help them see the words and interact with them a little bit (which seems to be the purpose of the dictation activities that I haven't tried yet).
I just know that I am lacking on these kind of things for my lower level classes to get them going when the bell rings.
For the 8th graders I am going to check their notebooks once a week and look at the these warm-ups to give them points. We'll see how it goes.