5 (Constructive) Activities to Do When You Have 5 Minutes to Fill - The Classroom Nook

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5 (Constructive) Activities to Do When You Have 5 Minutes to Fill


Let me set the scene:

It's almost time for lunch and you just finished up your math lesson. Your students miraculously put all of their materials away just as you asked, and are now sitting with their hands crossed, sitting straight, and waiting for your next direction.  (OK, that last part about hands crossed and sitting straight is a bit of a stretch - but let's just fantasize for a moment, mmmmk?)

What I'm trying to say is - you've got about 5 minutes to spare and you know that if you allow your student to turn and chat until it's time to line up for lunch, you'll be scraping students off the ceiling and putting out small fires.

Ever have a class like that?  The kind that if you "give an inch, they take a mile... 

Well, in cases like that, it's always good to have a few ready-to-go 5-minute fillers that can be pulled out in a moment's notice.

Here are 5 constructive, no-prep activities that you can do when you have 5 minutes to spare after a lesson, before a transition, or at the end of the day:

1.  Read a poem - I'm a big fan of reading poetry all year long, not just in April, so always having a poetry book to pull a quick read-aloud poem from is a great way to use up 5 minutes.  When time is limited, poems often work better than a full novel read-aloud since you may not be able to get through a full chapter in 5 minutes.  You can also use the poem for a quick poetry lesson.  For example, read a poem and have students listen for a specific poetry element like personification, hyperbole, onomatopoeia ...etc.  It's also a quick fluency model.  Try reading a portion of the poem and have the students recite it back to you in a fun chant.  Have them practice reciting it in different voices to practice tone and mood. (Check out this Facebook Live I did where I shared some of my favorite poetry books that would work great as a 5-minute read aloud.)

2.  Play "2 Truths and a Lie" -  Ever play this game with friends?  It's exactly how it sounds.  You tell a group of people 2 truthful facts about yourself and 1 (believable) lie and your friends try to guess which the lie is.  It's simple, easy, and often surprising!   (For example - you probably would have never guessed that I was Ms. Dairy Princess 1999 at the country fair, would ya?  HA- JUST KIDDING - total lie!)

In addition to being a potentially shocking game for you and your friends, this activity also is a great 5-minute filler for the classroom.  However, instead of giving your students juicy details about your personal life that they can use against you later, you can make it educational by taking a topic that they've been learning about, say multiplication, and have them pick out the false math fact.  For example, you might say:

"5x4=20...  3x3=6...  and 12x3=36"

You would pick a student and have them correctly pick out the multiplication math sentence that is false (3x3=6).  This game can easily be played with any subject.  You could also have students do this in partners to make it so that everyone can participate.

3.   Review with "Show What You Know" Cards - I've mentioned this resource a few times here on the blog (here's a post where I explain the activity in detail), but in short, students have a set of cue cards with several answers on it.  You ask them a question and students put their finger over the right answer on their card to show you (students would need easy access to their own set of "show what you know cards").  You can snag a set of already prepped cards here!

4.  Tell a Story on the Fly! - This one is so fun (& hilarious)!  Hold a ball of some sort (koosh ball, beach ball, bouncy ball...whatever you have on hand...bowling ball -just kidding!) and you (or a student) start a story with just 3 words.  Then, the person that started the story, tosses the ball to another student who continues the story with the next 3 words.  Keep it going for as long as you want.  When you're ready to end the story, announce "Last Toss!" and the person who gets the ball last must wrap up the story in the last three words.  Your students will come up with such silly stories!  Make it even more challenging by giving the story a specific character, or plot line.  For example, you might say "Let's tell a story about a boy named Mike on his way to school."  If you have some apprehensive students, you can always give them the option to "pass" if they want to, especially those students who don't do well when put on the spot.  Before long, you may see them joining in when they realize that it's all just for fun, no pressure!

5.  Take the ABC Challenge - Pick a topic that you and your students have been studying, say animals, and start with the letter A, and have students try to come up with related words for each letter of the alphabet. (A- alligator, B - beluga whale, C- cheetah...etc)  If you get stuck on a letter, skip it and challenge students to find a word for that letter in their spare time as a challenge!  This is a great review for anything you might be learning.

There you have it:  five 5-minute fillers that aren't just a waste of time!

Do you have a favorite 5-minute filler?

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