Professionalism updated February 23, 2011
On most days in the classroom, there are moments of perhaps five to fifteen minutes between planned learning activities during which some students have “nothing to do”. To avoid opportunities for classroom disruption and behavioural problems, it is important to be prepared when you find your students with time on their hands. Prepare a wide range of activities (high interest reading, books, mazes, word searches, etc.) in advance and make them part of your “Classroom Survival Kit”.
The following are some suggestions for activities meant to fill a short break. The intention is to maintain students’ attention by involving them in an interesting and enjoyable learning activity:
Here are some specific examples of activities you can use in the classroom:
1. Journal Writing/Discussions
Pose one of these questions to the students to start a lively discussion or use as a quick journal writing activity:
a) If you could be really good at something or have a special skill that you do not have now, what ability would you want to have? Why?
b) If you were asked to describe yourself to somebody who just met you, what 3 words would you use to describe yourself? Why did you choose those words?
c) If you had a magic lantern, what 3 wishes would you ask the genie to grant you?
Why did you make each of those wishes?
2. Fact, Fiction, or Opinion
Write the following statements on the blackboard (b.b.) or say them aloud. Have students identify each statement as fact, fiction, or opinion. The correct responses are shown in bold type.
a) Being Prime Minister is the hardest job in the world. (opinion)
b) Mercury is the planet closest to the sun. (fact)
c) The hippo is the largest land mammal. (fiction, the African elephant is)
d) Apple pie is the best tasting pie. (opinion)
3. Pix Puzzles
Picture puzzles such as the ones below are a terrific way to stimulate students to think critically. Write the following puzzles on the b.b. Challenge students to see if they can
decipher these phrases (The correct responses are shown in bold type):
a) r/e/a/d/i/n/g (reading between the lines)
c) NOON LAZY (lazy afternoon)
4. Analogy Puzzles
Analogies are a great way to stimulate students to think critically. Write the analogies on the b.b. Challenge students to select the appropriate conclusion to each analogy. Have students share their responses and the reasoning behind their answer.
1) Century is to 100 as decade is to _________.
2) Kitten is to cat as puppy is to __________.
3) Bank is to money as library is to ____________.
4) Author is to story as poet is to ____________.
5. Anagram Puzzles
Write the 4 phrases on the b.b. Have the students rearrange the letters in each phrase to spell a word. The words all have something in common. Challenge the students to figure out the 4 words and what the words have in common. (*You can adapt the activity for younger students: To make the activity easier, tell the students what the words have in common and/or have the students work in pairs to solve the puzzles.) The correct responses are shown in bold type.
a) cheater (teacher)
b) earn tip (painter)
c) can act unto (accountant)
d) dents it (dentist)
6. Forward & Backward
Have the students think of words that when written forward or backward are actual words:
7. Math: 21
Provide the students with 4 numbers. What mathematical operations ( - + x divide)
must be performed to those numbers in order for the total to be 21? This game can be adapted to include addition and subtraction only, or it can use all 4 operations.
a) give the students these numbers: 4, 6, 7, 12 (grade 2 – 4 say only + and -)
12 + 6 – 4 + 7 = 21 or (12+6) + (7-4) = 21
b) give the students these numbers: 2, 4, 13, 14
(13 + 14) – (2 + 4) = 21
8. Word Palindromes
A palindrome is a word that is spelled the same backward and forward. Have the students think of as many words as possible such as:
bib, pup, mom, racecar, dad, deed, did, eye, eve, gag, gig, kook, level, mum, noon, nun, peep, pep, pip, pop, pullup, radar, refer, rotor, rotator, sis, sees, solos, stats, tot, wow
9. Number Palindromes
- choose any 3 digit number (362)
- reverse that number to create a palindrome (263)
- add the two numbers together (362 + 263 = 625)
- take that sum and add it to its palindrome (625 + 526 =1251)
- take that sum and add it to its palindrome (1251 + 1521 = 2772)
**2772 is a palindrome! (The 3rd sum is a palindrome!)