Tania K. Cowling is a former teacher, a published book author, and award winning freelance writer.
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If you have five minutes to spare before lunch, recess, or the end of the day, what do you do with the class? As a teacher of primary-aged students, I filled these pockets of time with five minute games and activities. They also saved my life when I was a substitute teacher. Here are a few of my favorite activities for trying to make the most of every minute.
Further Reading: Let the Games Begin! How to Engage School Spirit with a Field Day
Kids love to talk about themselves. Passing around a "talking stick" helps students accentuate the positive, and you'll get some insight about what is happening in their lives.
Prepare a special stick by painting it a bright color and covering it with fun designs—I used a piece of bamboo from my yard but you can also buy a dowel at the craft store. When you have those few extra minutes to spare, pass the stick around and allow the children to share one thing that's making them happy. Keep the conversation short so everyone gets a turn.
If you want a fun way to release energy and fill some time between lessons, make use of a pair of exercise dice. To create them, I covered two empty facial tissue boxes with adhesive plastic wrap in a solid color. On one box, I drew large dots with a permanent marker—one to six on each side to look like dice. The other box should have stick-figure pictures of a variety of exercises, from jumping jacks to squats.
To make extra time fun and promote good health, give the children opportunities to roll the dice. The stick-figure picture they land on is the exercise they have to do, and the dots indicate how many times they'll have to repeat it.
Take your students on an imaginary shopping spree! First, decide what kind of store you'll be shopping in today—maybe a pet store, toy store, or grocery store. Beginning with the letter "A," have your students work their way through the alphabet, naming things that can be bought at the selected store. This a great language exercise to include in your stash of entertaining five minute games.
This is a good game for getting the wiggles out. Have the kids stand up and listen to your cues about body parts. For example, ask students to touch their elbows to their knees. Or how about touching each finger to their nose? Grins and giggles will abound as the kids try to follow your instructions. How creative can you get?
Further Reading: 5 End-of-the-School-Year Activities to Finish Strong
Begin a rhythmic recall by starting a slap/clap motion. While producing this rhythm, start this chant: "Hey (insert child's name), what do you say? What did you do in school today?" The child then says something about his or her day. Continue around the classroom until everyone's had the opportunity to respond.