Do you wish you had more time to prep for your lessons? Or not known how to fill an unexpected bit of time at the end of class? Maybe you’ve had to sub at the last minute for a sick colleague. Whatever the case, bookmark these five classroom activities you can prep in five minutes or less.
1. Hot seat
- All you need to prep for this activity is a list of vocabulary words the class has been working on.
- Break the class into teams of 3-4 students and ask each team to produce a piece of paper and a pen, and choose a representative. Respresentatives must sit with their back facing the board. The teacher chooses a vocabulary word and silently writes it on the board.
- Now each group must describe the word to their rep. Once a student with their back to the wall has guessed the word, they write it down and raise their hand for the teacher to check. The first group to guess correctly wins!
- Turn this into a fun review game by playing multiple rounds and keeping score.
2. Running dictation
- This activity incorporates all skill areas and takes just two minutes to prep.
- Select a text your students have been exposed to—I usually like to grab a reading text from earlier in their coursebook. Print a few copies of the text and stick them on a wall with Scotch tape. (If space allows, put them a little way outside of the classroom to make the game more physical.)
- Ask students to pair up and decide who will be the reader/speaker (Student A) and the listener/writer (Student B). Each pair must have a piece of paper and a pen.
- Tell the Student A’s that their job will be to read and memorize the text a sentence at a time, then return to Student B to dictate what they have read. Student A’s are free to go and come back from the text as many times as they’d like, but they may not write anything!
- Explain that the Student B’s must write down everything their partner says and should be sure to ask about spelling, capitalization, punctuation, etc.
- The teacher monitors during the activity. As pairs finish, they inform the teacher, who will check for accuracy.
3. Speed conversation
- This is a great activity because it works with every topic! To start, either pick a random topic or choose to work with the week’s assigned theme.
- Now, break students up into small groups and ask them to write 3-5 questions related to the chosen topic. (The questions should be information questions rather than Yes/No questions.)
- Once a group has their questions, they can send one member to write them on the board. It’s important not to repeat a question, so students and teachers should be taking note of what is being written. Once all questions are on the board, review as a whole class to correct any errors and check for understanding.
- Now, have students pair off and sit directly across from one another (I usually use one table and have them sit around it making sure that everyone is sitting across from someone). Give them 3-5 minutes to discuss any questions from the board that they would like. They do not need to discuss all the questions, they may talk about them in any order, and can take as long or short as they’d like on each one.
- Inform the students that when the time is up you will say “switch” and at this point everyone needs to change their seat one to the right.
- You can do several rounds of this especially if you have an odd number of pairs. If you have a very chatty class, feel free to make the discussion time longer.
4. Class error correction
- This activity takes no before class preparation.
- During a conversation activity or writing exercise, monitor the students’ work. When you hear or see something incorrect, make a note of it.
- At the end, write some of the mistakes you have heard on the board (keep students anonymous!) and have pairs come up with the corrections together.
- Later, review as a whole class. I actually like to do this activity in conjunction with speed conversation a lot of times!
- This is a fun way to generate lots of vocabulary and boost creativity.
- Have students break up into groups of 3-4. Each group should take out a piece of paper and a pen.
- Ask each group to write down all of the letters of the alphabet from A to Z vertically, one on each line. Give students the topic for the day/week and give them a time limit (vary this depending on level).
- Students must identify a word starting with each letter of the alphabet related to the topic. Once students are done, you can review as a whole class to verify their answers.
- To make it more challenging, and a bit competitive, keep score and tell students that they won’t receive points for answers another group has. This will lead them to come up with some very creative answers!