Saturday, September 7, 2013

Great Time-Fillers for the Classroom

Good evening!
Tonight I wanted to post about some of my favorite time-fillers for any classroom, although these work especially well in a language classroom.
The first time filler I want to share is almost completely no-prep, is a great review of vocabulary, and can be adapted for any topic at any level.  All you have to do is pick a category (ie: fruits, things each student likes, supplies you can find in a backpack, words that describe your family, etc) and have each student (or pair) come up with 5 (or how ever many words you choose) that fit that category.  At the higher levels, you can even give them a letter all of their words have to begin with (similar to the board game Scattergories by Hasbro).  My students really enjoy this activity and love sharing their answers, and it can fill as little or as much time as you can think of categories.

Another great time filler is paired flyswatter or Matamoscas.  This one does require a little prep ahead of time.  I have a lot of matamoscas games you can purchase on my TpT store, or you can make your own version using www.wordle.net for free.  I simply pair my students up, give each pair one copy of the flyswatter sheet, and two different colored markers, crayons, highlighters, etc.  All you, the teacher, have to do is call out terms for the students to find.  Whoever finds the term first gets to mark it with their color.  At the end of the game (which can last anywhere from 5-15 minutes, depending on the number of terms and how familiar your students are with the game), the student who has marked the most terms "wins".  Since I usually make this activity a grade, I give the winning student an extra 5 points on the game, but you could also give candy, a homework pass, or whatever other prize works well for your classes.

One of my favorite time fillers is a quick game of I have, Who has?  This does require you to make/buy and print out the cards ahead of time, but once you make a set and laminate it, it will last for years.  I also sell some of these in my store, but they are very easy to make using whatever vocabulary you want your students to practice.  The first time you play this game, it will take a little longer because a lot of students aren't really sure what they are doing, but once they are familiar with the game, you can play a round (including passing out and collecting the cards) in under 3 minutes.  This is another activity my students beg to play and they really love trying to beat their time.  I post all the times for all the classes to see, and they love to see how they stack up against my other class periods.  When I play this with my classes, I have them all start out standing up, and then they sit once they've read their card.  This helps me keep track of who has yet to read their card, and it also gives them the opportunity to move around a little bit.

A great communicative activity is to give the students a few questions to ask each other and answer.  These can be specific to what you are studying right then, or they can be review topics.  I love to give them very open-ended questions like "¿Cómo eres?" or "¿Qué te gusta hacer los fines de semana?" that give them lots of options to use different vocabulary.  You can have the students stay in their seats and just ask the people around them, or have them get up and circulate.  Whenever I can, I have the students get up so they're not sitting the whole period.  You can also have this be a teacher-centered activity where you ask the questions and call on a few students to answer.  I prefer this activity to be student-centered, simply because in most classrooms, students have a lot of opportunities to answer questions, but not to ask their classmates questions.

The final time filler I want to share is a tried and true favorite: individual whiteboards.  I have a pretty streamlined procedure in place for distributing and returning the whiteboards and supplies, so that doesn't eat up much time.  You can have the students answer questions on the boards, translate, play hangman in pairs (practices alphabet and vocabulary!), etc, but my favorite (and my students' favorite as well) is to draw a picture based on what I say in the target language.  I love this activity because it avoids translating into English, it's fun, and you can make some very creative and funny pictures for them to draw, which can help them remember the vocabulary better.  You can use this drawing activity to practice prepositions of location (The dinosaur is below the monkey), verbs (The principal rides his bike in the park), colors (The orange pig reads with the blue giraffe), body parts (The alien has three heads, five feet, one eye...), etc.  There are endless possibilities for whiteboards.  One tip - I use kids' socks as erasers, and I store the markers inside the socks, so there's no begging for a certain color and they're a lot easier to distribute.  At first, the kids balk at socks, but I make sure to tell them that they've never been worn before, which helps.  They really enjoy wearing the sock on their non-dominant hand and swiping when they erase :)  They are so funny!

How do you fill those extra minutes at the end of class?
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9 comments:

  1. I love the white board and sock idea! :) I have been debating on the whiteboard idea for a while now..and I think I'll end up giving in soon.. :)

    -B

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    1. You should totally give in! My kids love whiteboards!

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  2. I love the sock idea! I use card stock inside of a sheet protector for my white boards and have a pom pom glued to the end of each marker, but I like this a lot better!

    My students love the game Escalera. I draw two ladders on the board. I call out a vocabulary word (or a verb and subject, etc.) and each team has one student come up to the board and the first one to write the word correctly in the space between the bottom rungs gets to leave the word there while the other team has to erase. The first team to reach the space above the top rung wins.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Escalera, ProfeSpain8! I am definitely going to try that out!

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  3. I use white boards a lot - love love love using them - and the sock idea is GREAT! I will have to give it a try!

    Love these filler activities, might have to try a few of them out :)

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    1. I love using the socks for erasers, and so do my kids (once I explain that the socks have never been worn haha). Let me know how the fillers go for you, Frau Leonard!

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  4. I use white board too for so many things. They are so versatile and the little ones love using them!

    *yay for being your newest follower...drop by =)

    Just Wild About Teaching

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    1. I completely agree. I strongly believe that every new teacher should have a class set of whiteboards and markers. There's so much you can do with them!

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