"Some painters transfer the Sun into a yellow spot; others transfer a yellow spot into the Sun."

-Pablo Picasso






Go Towards the Light


Time-Filling Activities


 There are many times in the teacher's day, between classes or before specials, when there’s no time for a new lesson but lots of time to fill in.  Try a few  short lessons, quick activities that fill time without wasting it!


 Teach poetry while students wait in line.  

Prepare enough index cards for each member of the class. Write the full name of a state on the first card and the abbreviation of that state on the next card, and so on. Place a card face down on each student's desk. Then tell the students to turn over their cards. Give students one minute to find the person who has the state name or abbreviation that goes with the card they hold.

Match states with their capital cities.

Brainstorm ideas for class projects.

Practice math facts or spelling words.

Ask each student to name three things he or she learned that day.

Ask a student to name a noun that begins with D. Have the next student name a noun beginning with H, and so on.

Ask students to name all the "red" words they can think of.

Start students with a noun. Example: house They write that word at the top of a sheet of paper. Say "Go!" and students will extend their list by writing a noun that begins with the last letter of the noun before it. The activity continues. The person with the longest list of nouns at the end of four minutes is the winner.

 Students might keep a "What I Learned Today" journal. 

Use a standard set of bingo cards for this activity. Instead of calling out numbers, call out math problems that equal those numbers. For example: If you are to call out N-32, call instead 8 X 4, 16 + 16, or 45 - 13. Students must do the math before they mark their cards. Be sure to check the winner's card. The bingo format can be adapted to almost any topic of study.

Challenge teams of students to identify the state (s) from the clues you give. For example: This is the largest state. (Alaska) It is known as the "Evergreen State." (Washington) These four states meet in one corner. (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah) This state has more than 11,000 lakes. (Minnesota) It produces more than half the pineapples grown in the United States. (Hawaii) It is the "Gem State." (Idaho) The lowest point in the United States is found in this state. (California).

Write a letter of the alphabet on each of 30 index cards. Randomly distribute a card to each student. Give students one minute to write on the card a verb that begins with the letter on the card. Then students tell their verb words. Students pass their cards to the next student, who has a minute to write a different verb for the letter. When students are stumped or write words that are not verbs, they must leave the game.

Organize students into small groups. Provide each group with a piece of paper that has written on it the name of a common gadget or utensil found in the home. (Examples: blender, CD player, electric can opener.) Give each group five minutes to write clear directions on how to use the item without mentioning what that item is. When time is up, call on one person in the group to read the directions. Can the other groups guess the object?

This activity works well for individual students, pairs of students, or small groups. Give each student or group an index card with the name of a common object written on it. (Examples: helicopter, alligator, toilet paper, sweater, fishing pole.) Challenge the student(s) to create a slogan for the object on the card. Students can vote for their favorite slogans.

Also, list: countries, proper nouns,musical instruments, action verbs,feeling verbs, animals, famous people in a given category.

Write several short, grade-appropriate words on the board, but omit one or more consonants from each. Have students name consonants that might complete each word puzzle. Some examples with possible responses: _ag (bag), ma_ (map), ga_h (gash), di_ch (ditch), _othe_ (mother), _ur_e (purse). Ask students to work in pairs or groups, and award a point for each word puzzle they solve.

 Cut out words from the headlines in newspapers and magazines. Mix them up. Divide the class into small groups. Distribute the same number of words to each group. Give students two minutes to create as many sentences as possible from their pile of words. Students should record sentences as they go so they can reuse the words.

Create addition and subtraction problems using ZIP codes. The two-factor ZIP codes should result in an answer that is another ZIP code. For example: 60601 (Chicago, Illinois) + 10469 (Bronx, New York) = 71070. Challenge students to calculate the answers and use a ZIP code directory to determine the name of the place that corresponds to the answer.

Students create a multiplication or division problem and have a classmate call out the answer.

Complete an open ended story.

Look at a picture and write about it.

Describe an interesting experience you've had.

Create a new animal, using parts from many other animals.



Top 5 songs

Top 5 TV shows

Top 5 movies

Top 5 favorite foods

Then alphabetize the above lists



All nouns in room

Models of cars

Things that have two wheels

Cities in U.S.

Ice Cream

Breeds of dogs


Foreign countries

Name all the colors you know.

One kind of food beginning with each letter of the alphabet


Write down one good thing about each of your classmates.

Read a story, have the students guess the title.

Display an object or picture in class and have the children come up with as many words as 

they can to describe it.

Put something in opaque bag, sit in a circle, and send bag around. Let the students feel objects. 

List the guesses on the board.


Cities in their home state

Characters from books and stories

Proper Nouns

Kinds of flowers



g f f