It has happened to every teacher. It can sometimes be stressful. It can also be a great opportunity for some amazing options. If you haven’t figured out what it is yet, it is that 10-15 extra un-planned minutes that have not been filled by a lesson plan. Maybe a guest speaker cancelled, a lesson didn’t take as long as expected, or students finished a test early, but that dead time can spell trouble if you don’t have back-up plans in place. Our blog post is aimed at giving you ideas to combat this dreaded occurrence.
Here are our top 6 ideas on how to fill time with your students.
1. Read Aloud
This is probably the best choice. If the students are really loving the read aloud, they will be begging for extra time anyway. What a perfect time to pull out the book and read to the class! For a fun twist, take your class outside (if weather permits), read with the lights off, or gather your students on the floor (upper elementary kids still love this!).
No, I’m not talking about just showing any plain old movie. I am talking about ones that will make students think. Kid President is always fun to watch with students. Great discussions can be had afterwards. Another great place to look for educational videos is if you have a subscription to Scholastic News or Time for Kids. They always have current events featured. If your students are in grades 5 and up, CNN Student News is also a great 10 minute video presentation that focuses on current events as well.
Students love to play games. Some great oldies but goodies are Heads Up 7 Up and Simon Says. My students also like silent ball in which a soft ball is tossed around the room. If a person talks or makes noise, s/he is out. If there is a bad throw or a missed catch that person is out as well. It is fun to make up rules as the game progresses. For example, students can hop on one foot, play from their knees, throw with opposite hand, etc.
5. Interesting Pictures
Find some pictures that are interesting and have your students write about what they see, think and wonder about the picture. Amazing discussions will occur in your classroom! Some great places for interesting pictures are: Newsela, National Geographic, and Astronomy’s page too.
This may sound silly, but students at any age still love to draw and color. Have some scratch paper on hand and some coloring sheets (could be based on seasons, upcoming holidays, animals, etc.). It will be quiet and your students will be engaged! Another idea, is to draw a squiggle on a piece of paper and photocopy it for the class. Then the students have to take the squiggle and make it into something. You could tie this into a content area (social studies, reading, writing) or even a specific topic (Civil War, plants, astronomy…)
We would love to hear filler ideas that you do in your classroom. Let’s share our ideas so we can have a great idea bank to go to when there is class time to be filled!