By Teachers, For Teachers
The end of the school year is upon us. Ask any student (or, heck, any teacher for that matter) and they can tell you exactly how many school days are left.
The end of the year is exciting; full of activities and fast-paced schedules that change almost daily. What with assemblies, award ceremonies, meetings, field trips, and presentations, teachers can't depend on their standard time limit for daily lessons.
With such unpredictable schedules, having 'go to' educational time fillers handy is key. (Plus, these are also great filler activities when there is a substitute in the room.)
Here are a few of my favorite educational time-fillers for the end of the year that students love!
This is great for when you have a bit more time that your students need to be occupied. Have all students stand. The first student stands next to the student behind him. Show a flashcard. The student with the correct answer moves on.
If you are using math flashcards, Around the World works best for 3rd-8th graders, sight words for K-2nd, foreign languages for 6th-12th graders, chemistry symbols with 9th-12th grades, one syllable words 1st-3rd, and the Alphabet for K.
This is very self-explanatory - your students read a book of their own choosing silently. Some students who have difficulty with reading may read quietly with a partner. For elementary students, they may also be working on AR (Accelerated Reader) reading quizzes. When possible, you could let your students read outside - if weather and time permit.
This is a game that I made up, which is great for 4th-12th grade students. The basic idea is to utilize a large multi-syllable word – for example, Caterpillar – and see how many smaller words can be made out of it.
Students can either work individually or with a partner. To view the rules, ways to extend and advance the game, check out this article I wrote specifically on the ways to utilize the caterpillar game, and you can get a ready-to-implement version of the game here.
Like so many of the other time fillers mentioned, this one can go on for as long as you need it, or even be done over the course of several days. Once you have decided that the game is over, you can declare a winner and give out a prize if you want.
If playing Around the World is something your students enjoy doing, then how about letting them make their own flashcards for it? You could even pick a set of the cards (or mix them up) and use those for the next time the class plays a game. If that doesn't work, just letting your students create their own flashcards on 4x6 index cards helps to integrate their visual learning and let's them have a personal investment in their learning, which creates a sense of ownership.
Giving students writing prompts to utilize extra time is perfect for any age group. You can always find topics that are at their proficiency level and you can have control over the time limit (aka, as long as you need it to be).
In my class, each student has a spiral that they have for the whole year to do only quick writes in. The topics may vary depending on the grade, but that shouldn't be a limiting factor. Students can write about what is happening in class or the news, a summary, a review, an opinion/debate piece, the five senses, goals, dreams, where they see themselves in 10 years, etc.
Check out TeachHUB’s Video Writing Prompts for ideas to get you started.
This time filler is definitely more appropriate for 3rd-7th graders.
Fast Facts are single worksheets filled with 100 simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division problems. The problems have to be completed with 100% accuracy within a certain amount of time.
It’s an easy way to ingrain the simple facts for students. Plus, Fast Facts, are a …well… a fast time filler.
Bingo games tend to take more time than some of the other ‘time fillers,’ but it’s still a fun educational tool to use in class (this is another one that’s way for substitutes to keep the students going as well).
Bingo games are good for when you are waiting around for an activity to take place: fire drill, assembly, field trip, etc. and the even keeps getting pushed back. Or, at the end of a quiz/test, and there’s time left over – but not enough to start the next lesson, time for bingo! Plus with the variety of bingo games out there, there are options available for all learners.
Try math bingo, phonics, vocabulary, spelling, people of American History (http://standardsrfun.com/ ) sounds of letters, and more. Bingo is one of those fillers that can be specifically designed for any subject matter.
I’ve used crossword puzzled with big units of study and thematic units, as well as when studying vocabulary. The puzzles are a creative ‘go to’ filler because there isn’t a time limit – or requirement. Plus, students can work at their own pace, allowing their own creativity to dictate how their own puzzle is set up.
Check out these free crossword builders posted at Free Technology for Teachers, some of which also have ready-to-use educational crosswords to pick from as well.
This is definitely a favorite of educators, especially at the end of the day. It’s quick, easy, and students can be in charge too.
Hangman can be used with anything and any subject that is being studied too. Some teachers like to use it as a way of introducing new units and topics too.
Hopefully there are some new ideas there that can help you fill in those extra spare minutes you have – instead of saying internally, “What the heck am I going to do with these twelve minutes?” Since it is the end of the year, every teacher deserves some educational time fillers at hand.
Share your favorite end-of-the-year time fillers in the comments section!
This article was written by Rosshalde Pak. She is an Education Entrepreneur based in Portland, Oregon. More of her work can be read on Education Short List.