There are always moments in the day when you finish with a lesson early and you don’t want to start something new. Maybe it will be time for lunch, recess or dismissal soon. So what do you do? If you are not prepared you may end up with discipline problems. Instead seize the moment! Grab an activity out of your “Five-Minute Fillers” box or file and do something quick and fun.
With some preparation ahead of time you can use these ideas all year long. Reach for an activity whenever you need to fill a few minutes. Make sure to have the file available for a substitute teacher that might be working in your room, also.
Materials and Preparation:
- A box or expandable file folder to store ideas
- File cards to write down the activity for quick access
- Sentence strips: Write several sentences. Use the vocabulary from your spelling lists. Do not use punctuation or capitalization. Cut each sentence into sections. Put a rubber band around the pieces for each sentence.
- Decks of cards
- White board or chalk board (magnetic, preferred)
- Alphabet flash cards
- Prepare a word list of single syllable words with short vowel sounds and long vowel sounds.
- Use construction paper to write one digraph on each piece (ch,sh,ph,th,wh,ck)
- File cards: Use sight words that you are practicing and write the same word on two different cards so that you end up with pairs of sight words.
- Student name cards with magnets on the back to be used on a magnetic surface.
Language Arts Fillers:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.1a Recognize the distinguishing features of a sentence (e.g., first word, capitalization, ending punctuation).
- Use a prepared sentence strip that has been cut up. Pass the segments out to some students and ask them to put the sentence in order and stand in front of the class. Then ask the students in the audience to read it and add capitalization and punctuation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.2a Distinguish long from short vowel sounds in spoken single-syllable words.
Divide the students into two teams. Take turns saying a word to each team. (Giving each team member a turn). Students must tell you if the word has a short or long vowel sound. You can add a second element by asking the student what letter is making the sound.
Time for a challenge!! Gather the students together in front of the white board in two teams (Teams are optional). Put a simple word on the board. Then ask a student to add one letter, subtract one letter or change one letter to make a new word. Here’s an example:cat, rat, rate, date, hate, hat, hit, sit, bit, bite…
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.2b Orally produce single-syllable words by blending sounds (phonemes), including consonant blends.
Write a blend on the board.(bl, br, cl, cr, dr, fl, fr, gl, gr, pl, sc, sk, sl, sm, sn, sp, st, sw, tr, tw, wr) In one minute count how many words the kids can think of that start with the designated letter blend. Raising hands is a must!
Stand in a circle and say a word. The first student says the first letter, the next student the second letter and so on until the end of the word. Then the next person says, “Hot Dog!” to signify the end of the word. The next person sits down in place in the circle. Continue until everyone is sitting.
Choose a letter from the stack of alphabet cards. Then choose a broad category such as: around the school, at home, on a farm, at the zoo. Think of as many words as possible in the category that begins with the chosen letter. Set timer for five minutes. Raising hands is a must!
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.3g Recognize and read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words.
7. Instruct children to sit in a circle. Allow for room around the circle. Pass out the pairs of sight words (Make sure they are all mixed up.) Call out a sight word and the two students who have the card with the right word have to change places in the circle by the time you count to 10.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.3a Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.
8. Distribute the digraph cards to six students. Move the cardholders to different places in the room. Then say a word and the rest of the students will move to the student who is holding the correct digraph. Walking is a must!
CCSS.Math.Content.1.OA.B.3 Apply properties of operations as strategies to add and subtract.
1. Do some mental math: Write a single digit number on the board. Let’s say it’s 4. Then call out number equations like, “plus 3”. The student should answer, “7”. Then you might say, “minus 2” and the student should answer, “2”.
2. Give a deck of playing cards (without the face cards) to pairs of students. Play the game of War in a different way. You might have them see who has the smallest number or who can add the two cards together first or who can subtract the fastest. Set the timer for five minutes. You may want to add a third person to the group to be the “Judge”.
CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.C.4 Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.
3. Construct a quick graph everyday. Use a magnetic board and the magnetic student nametags. Then ask a simple question like, “What is the best pet you could have?” Then give choices like dog, cat, horse, snake, other. Instruct students to place their nametags next to best pet. Discuss the results. Which is best? Which is worst? What were the pet choices in the “other” category?
CCSS.Math.Content.1.NBT.A.1 Count to 120, starting at any number less than 120. In this range, read and write numerals and represent a number of objects with a written numeral.
4. Play “Duck, Duck, Goose” but do it by counting: “It” taps heads and counts by 2’s to reach 20. The person who is number 20 chases “It” to see if “It” can return to the right place. Other ideas: Count by 10’s to 100, count by 5’s to 50, count backwards from 20, start at 111 and count to 120.
5. Pass out ten pieces of construction paper with a number written on it. Ask the students to come up one at a time in number order from smallest to largest number.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.A.2 Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/“less of” the attribute, and describe the difference.
6. Place four objects, three of which have something in common, on the floor in the middle of a circle of students. Ask for a volunteer to pick the one with the commonality and explain why. Use animal picture cards or pictures from a magazine.
Learning can be fun in just five minutes!