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Top 5 Classroom Management Time Fillers

Janelle Cox

When you have a few extra minutes to spare and you don’t want your classroom to erupt in chaos, then you need to use classroom management to be prepared to fill your time. Sometimes things just happen and your lesson finishes early, or you want to use classroom management to keep your students engaged during transition periods. When this is the case and you’re looking to make every minute count, you will need a few tricks up your sleeve. Here are the top five classroom management time fillers to try when you are in a pinch.

1. Classroom Management: Communal Story

When you have a few minutes to spare, try having your students work together on a communal story. You can start the story yourself, then once you have spoken or written your sentence, then you can point to the next person to take their turn adding a sentence to the story. If you choose to have each student come up and write their sentence versus just speaking it, then as a class you can go over the grammar at the end of the story. There are a few ways that you can determine the concept of the story. You can choose yourself, have all of the students write a concept on a scrap piece of paper and put them into a hat and choose. Or don’t have a main concept, and just see where the story takes you. This is a fun and creative way to use up those extra few minutes.

2. Would You Rather

If you are looking for a fun and easy way to fill your time and get to know your students better, then this activity is perfect for you. “Would you rather eat pizza or a hot dog?” “Would you rather eat a live bug or a dead worm?” “Would you rather be really tall or really short?” These are just a few of the questions that you can ask students when you have some time to fill. The great thing about this activity is that it can last as long as you want it to -- so if you have five minutes with nothing to do, you can ask as many “Would you rather” questions as you can in the time that you have allotted. If you want to get your students up and moving and use this activity as a brain break, then after you ask each question you can have your students move to one side of the room if they answered one way, or the other side if they answered the other way. If you have more time to fill, then you can always ask each student why they chose the answer that they did.

3. We are Going on a Trip

Some of you may remember playing this game as child when you were going on a long trip in the car with your family. Your parents may have played it with you to keep you busy. The basis of the game is to see how many things that you can remember to take on the trip with you. The first person that can get to the end of the alphabet wins. Here’s how it works: One person starts the story by saying “We are going on a trip to …” Then they fill in the blank with whatever place they choose. Then, the next person goes by saying “We are going on a trip to and we are bringing …” The first item that they are bringing has to start with first letter of the alphabet. The next student repeats what the first two students said and then adds another item using the next letter in the alphabet. If a student messes up, they are out of the game. Here’s an example of what the first three people may say.

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We are going on a trip to Hawaii. We are going on a trip to Hawaii and we are bringing an apple. We are going on a trip to Hawaii and we are bringing an apple and a beach towel.

This time filler may take a while to get through the whole class, so you will need more than five minutes to complete this game.

4. Are You Talking About Me?

This time filler is one of the more popular games to play with elementary students. The way it works is easy. The teacher thinks of a person in the classroom to themselves, then delivers vague-but-specific statements to the class about the person they are thinking about. The goal is for the students to figure out if the teacher is talking about them. For example, the teacher may say, “This person wears glasses.” All of the students in the class who wear glasses would stand up. Then the teacher would give another statement about the person they are thinking of to help weed out the other students, such as “This person wears glasses and is wearing the color blue.” The students who are wearing glasses and the color blue would remain standing and everyone else would sit down. The game would keep going until only one person is left standing, which would be the person the teacher was thinking of all along. This game can go as fast as you want or as slow as you want. It can be played if you have five minutes or 15 minutes. If you want to speed it up, you can be very specific with your statements, or if you want to slow it down you can be very vague. It’s also a fun way to line students up at the end of the day.

5. Slam Board

This fun and simple vocabulary game is the perfect time filler when you are getting ready to pack up for the day. Start by writing any four-letter word on the board. Then randomly choose one student to come up and change one letter in the word to create a new word. Continue calling students up to change one letter to make a new word until everyone has had a turn.  Make sure that no one repeats a word. Students who don’t know the definition of a word may look it up in the dictionary.

Do you have any go-to favorite time fillers that you use in class? Please feel free to share your classroom management ideas them with us in the comment section below.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.