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Classroom Activities that Require No Preparation

Janelle Cox

In this wonderful age of technology, teachers no longer have to spend countless hours a night prepping for a lesson plan. Today’s teachers have access to the Internet, which can give you thousands upon thousands of pre-made lessons ready at your fingertips. However, when it comes to downloading and printing a pre-made lesson, sometimes you get what you pay for, which means while they may look pretty from the outside, there is a chance that you may have to spend hours cutting, copying, or even laminating materials in order for the lesson to be student-ready. With all of that hard work, you might as well have just created your own lesson from the beginning. There are also many teachers that just do not have the access to the materials they need to create a wonderful lesson plan. With limited or no access to basic textbooks or other classroom materials, these teachers need classroom activities that require no preparation with limited materials. Here are a few teacher-tested classroom activities that don’t depend on materials and doesn’t require you to cut, paste, or laminate anything.

Classroom Activities: Student Choice Board that Students Create

One of the easiest classroom activities that requires zero prep time is to have your students create a choice board. Tell students that they are going to switch places with you and become the teacher for a little while. Their job is to come up with classroom activities, or “Tasks” for a choice board. Divide students into small groups of four and have them create a choice board that looks like a Tic Tac Toe board. Each student in the group is responsible to come up with two tasks to write on their group Tic Tac Toe board. You can brainstorm example activities together as class before you allow students to work in their groups. Each group should have a total of nine tasks, one for each square on the board. Have students turn their choice boards in and make copies of all of them. If you have a total of five groups, then you should have five different student choice boards.

In the beginning of the week, pass out one choice board to all students and challenge them to choose any three tasks to complete on the board, just as long as they choose three squares in a row. Each day of the week, pass out a new choice board that students have created and have them complete it. This is a fun, interactive way to let students have some control over their learning, with the added bonus of no prep time except for making photo copies.

Sentence Relay

This simple whole group activity requires zero preparation. All you have to do is have a list of your spelling words handy and a piece of chalk or dry erase maker. Divide students into two relay groups. Each team takes turns coming up to the board writing one word at a time to create a sentence using their spelling words. The first team to come up with the sentence that uses the most spelling words first, wins. It’s fun, and it’s easy, and you don’t have to come with any special spelling lessons for students to practice their words.

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Alphabet Reflection

One of the students’ favorite classroom activities that requires no prep is to create an alphabet reflection. This simple activity only requires students to write down the letters A through Z on a sheet of lined paper. Once they’ve written down the alphabet on the paper, instruct students to reflect upon what they did during the summer by writing down one thing for each letter of the alphabet. For example, A- Ate an apple under the tree, B – Boated with my family, etc. If you are doing this activity at the end of the school year, then have students reflect upon what they learned during the school year. You can even use this reflection activity to have students reflect on a book they’ve just read, or field trip they just went on, or basically anything that you want them to reflect upon.

Pass the Word

This simple activity only requires a soft ball. It is also a great game to play to get students warmed up before a spelling test. Have students sit on their desks or stand next to their desks. Then tell students a spelling word and have them take turns passing a ball to say one letter of the spelling word at a time. For example, the spelling word is “Crate.” The first student would say the letter “C,” then point to another student and pass them the ball and when they catch the ball that student would say the letter “R,” and so on until the word is spelled correctly. If a student misspells a letter, they sit down and are out of the game. The game continues using all of the spelling words.

As you can see, you can find engaging classroom activities for students with little to no materials and zero preparation on your part. As long as students are learning and having fun, you’re doing your job.

What are you favorite classroom activities that require no preparation? Please share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your ideas.


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 @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educatorsor contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.