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6 Easy Classroom Time-Fillers

Songs for Teaching is proud to present 6 Easy Classroom Time-Fillers – perfect for those empty minutes before dinner or during the dying embers of a term. Read on…

Easy Classroom Time-Fillers for when you need them most.
Every teacher sometimes finds themselves with spare time in some lessons.

The Devil Makes Work for Idle Hands

Or so the saying goes. Teachers know it to be true. When pupils have little to keep themselves busy, problems begin to emerge. Problems such as bickering amongst themselves and tormenting one another which will leave you (and them) with a headache.

Of course, teachers strive to jam-pack lessons throughout each term because every second of time counts. I mean, how else would we cover the burgeoning curriculum if we didn’t make use of every moment?

However, it’s true that from time-to-time, carefully planned lessons are shelved, perhaps due to reasons out of one’s control. Or sometimes, you’re dropped into a situation without a plan and no knowledge of the cohort (yes, supply teachers – I’m looking at you), and so it’s absolutely crucial that you occupy pupils with an engaging task if only to save you from the stress that comes about when a class isn’t busy enough. That’s when you need our easy classroom time fillers…

6. Heads down, thumbs up.

Most primary school teachers have this one in their repertoire. It’s a very effective time filler, particularly for those moments at the end of a school day when there’s not quite enough time to start a lesson.

Resources needed: None

Type: Whole class game for 10+ players.

Educational benefits: Turn taking, cooperation, communication, patience.

How to Play

Choose a few children to be ‘on’. Instruct the rest of the class to close their eyes and put their heads down on the desk with both hands on the table with thumbs pointing upwards. The children selected to be ‘on’ sneak around the room and each choose a different child by touching one of the thumbs of a classmate. All the children should keep their heads down until given the instructions ‘heads up, thumbs down’. Then, the children who were chosen stand up (the number of children selected should be equal to the number of children who were ‘on’). They each take it in turns to guess who picked them. If they guess correctly, they swap places and they become one of the children who are ‘on’ in the next round. An easy and highly engaging game for children in KS1 and KS2.

5. Wink Murder

Resources needed: None

Type: Whole class game.

Educational benefits: Turn taking, cooperation, concentration.

How to play

Select one child to be the ‘detective’ and ask them to briefly step outside the room. Now, choose another child to be the ‘murderer’. Make sure all other participants know who was selected as the murderer. Invite the detective back into the room. Now, the murderer ‘kills’ victims by subtly winking at his/her classmates. The detective has a predetermined number of guesses to work out who is the murderer. Simple but a lot of fun!

4. Hangman

Resources needed: Board and pens/chalk (depending on the surface available).

Type: Whole class/small groups.

Educational benefit: Language, literacy, communication, turn taking.

How to play

Think of a word. Don’t reveal what the word is to the class. Draw a row of dashes on the board – each dash stands in place of each letter of the word you thought of. Invite children to guess letters for the word, noting the letters they guess. Every correct letter guessed should be written on the corresponding dash. When a letter is guessed incorrectly, begin constructing the rudimentary gallows which should be drawn on the board. Here’s a step-by-step illustration for drawing the gallows:

3. Simon Game

Resources needed: Computer with internet connection, speakers and interactive board

Type: Single player so take it in turns. Spectators enjoy the competitiveness.

Educational benefits: Memorisation, sequencing, pitch recognition

An 80s classic which makes for an excellent time-filler.

Do you remember this classic 80s electronic game? Well, there’s now a version available which can be played in a web browser making it an ideal easy classroom time-filler so long as you have an interactive board or a set of computers for pupils to use.

How to Play

The idea is simple. The Simon device plays increasingly complex sequences of lights and sounds which the players must imitate. The more sequences the players are able to memorise and imitate successfully, the higher their score. This is a great one for both players and spectators as it can be quite competitive.

2. The Pirate Game

Resources needed: Pirate game grid generator, pencils and paper for students. Note- You will need to print the grids in advance.

Type: Whole class

Educational benefits: Strategy, mental arithmetic, turn-taking, language an communication, position and direction.

How to Play

Allow Mr Barton at mrbartonmaths.com to explain via the video below:

1. Musical Games

You didn’t really expect us to leave musical activities off this list, did you?

Listening to music, performing music and playing musical games are all great ways to fill time. Of course, these activities should be used in actual, discrete music lessons but why not play a clapping game or two whilst you’re waiting for the dinner-time bell to ring? Check out this blog post entitled Ideas for Teaching Music at KS2 for inspiration.

Thank you for reading our list of 6 Easy Classroom Time Fillers.

Don’t forget to comment below and share the heck out of this article. Until next time…

Happy teaching!

By | 20 August, 2019 |

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