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Top “Sponge” End of the Year Activities for K-5

Janelle Cox


We have all been there, your lesson finished early, or you have a few minutes to spare before lunch and you’re frantic: The students are getting out of control! It’s important to be prepared and make every minute count. That is what fillers are for, or what some call sponge activities. Sponge end of the year activities are things that teachers give students to work on as they come in the room or to keep the students busy while they teach. They can also be used during classroom transitions or when you have a few extra minutes to spare. With the expectations that are on students today, it’s important that our students soak up every minute of instructional time as they can, even after a lesson may be over.

Here are some activities you can have students do before the bell, in-between classes, as part of end of the year activities, or even waiting for an assembly to start.

Take 6

This competitive review activity will have students excited to learn. It can last two minutes or ten minutes, depending on how much time you have. To get started, pair students up and give them one die. Each student rolls the die, and whoever has the larger number goes first. When prompted, the student then writes down as many (vocabulary words, definitions, spelling words, etc.) as they can. While this is happening the other student is continually rolling the die until they get a six, then the rolls change until the teacher says times up.

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The Daily Dish

At the end of a lesson, or even at the end of the day, have students take a moment and write two sentences about what they just learned. With social media being on the forefront, students will get some practice on how to write 140 characters or less.

Flashlight Fun

This sponge activity is geared more towards kindergarten and first graders. Write site words or spelling words on a star shape and tape to the ceiling. Then, shut off the lights and have students take turns shining the flashlight to find and say site words.

Quick as a Wink

Have students try and name as many of something as they can in a specific amount of time. The amount of time spent on this activity will depend on the amount of time you have. Here are a few ideas.

Name as many as you can of the following:

  • Colors                                      
  • Animals
  • States                                    
  • Mammals
  • Presidents                          
  • Movies
  • Kinds of ice cream          
  • Cartoons
  • Countries
  • Holidays
  • Teachers in the school
  • Fruits
  • Automobiles        
  • Vegetables

Writing Prompts

Have students respond to a variety of topics that will help you check for understanding. This will not only keep students engaged, but it will also give you a deeper understanding of what students are thinking. Here are a few ideas.

  • What were surprised to learn about …
  • How did you feel when you read …
  • Write an adjective for each letter in your first and last name.
  • Tell me about your favorite book and why it is your favorite.
  • Write five things you like to do after school.

Bell Ringers

  • Each day, choose one of the following sponge activities to write on the board while you are taking attendance, or doing other chores in the morning.
  • Bring in an object and ask students to describe it in one sentence.
  • Ask students to write down two things they learned from class yesterday.
  • Display a picture and have students write a short story based in the photo.
  • I'm the part of a bird that's not in the sky, I can swim in the ocean and remain dry? What am I? (Bird’s shadow).
  • Write a complex math problem on the board.

There is no need for students to sit and wait quietly when a lesson finishes early or you have a few minutes to spare. Be prepared with a variety of on-the-go sponge activities so that no instructional time is lost. 

What are your favorite sponge activities to do in class? Share with us in the comment section below, we would 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 a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for, as well as a contributing writer to and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators

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