End of Class Activities
One of the worst things that can happen to a teacher is finishing a lesson early and having nothing planned. Time seems to slow as students get bored. The energy and tension in the room rise. If the teacher looks away for even a second all semblance of control is lost.
No matter the grade level or subject taught it is important for a teacher to be prepared for this situation. Having an arsenal of activities at the ready can prevent students from getting too wild and causing mischief. Here are a few activities that, with minimal preparation, can save you from a nightmare:
1. Brain Quest Question Decks
If you have been in a school at all in the past twenty years you have probably seen a Brain Quest Question deck (about $7-$10 on amazon). These decks contain a multitude of grade-appropriate questions that cover topics such as math, history, geography, science, and English.
Individual students can raise their hand and give the answer, but it can also be fun to have students play with teams. Prizes such as candy can help student engagement but other free prizes (such as leaving the class first if you answered a question correctly) can also help student buy-in.
Many of the questions are aimed at students who are on grade level so having a range of decks can be a good idea to reach students with all abilities.
2. Kindness Letter/Email
Have your students write a kind letter to somebody at the school. This is a great way to not only teach them the proper way to write a letter but also, how to show gratitude and kindness to others. Most students probably need an outline and staff list to help them get started but if you make this a common practice, they can eventually become pro letter writers!
3. Student Information Cards
This activity takes a little bit of prep work but is fun for all ages. At the beginning of the school year have a student fill out an information card with their name and fun facts like the student’s favorite color, favorite subject in school, favorite ice cream flavor, favorite musical artist, favorite animal, favorite television show, etc. When you have extra time at the end of the class pick a card and read off some of the person’s favorites and have the class guess whose card you are reading. Make sure you tell the class that if they know their card was picked to stay quiet.
Throughout the year you will need to get rid of cards for students who move away and give new cards to students who enter your class but other than that it is a pretty easy time filler.
4. I Spy
Sometimes a classic game of I Spy is the way to go. You can play this with the entire class or have them play in small groups. No matter how you play make sure you set clear rules like “everybody has to see the chosen object from where they are sitting” to prevent meltdowns.
Riddles are a great ways to keep students occupied at the end of class. There are many riddle websites like Funny Riddles, Pocoyo, and cheap riddle books you can buy online. Make a personal collection of riddles that work for the age group you teach and build it as time goes on. Feel free to offer students prizes for correct answers to enhance student engagement.
6. Emoji Math
If you have social media you have probably seen emoji math problems floating around. For those who don’t know what they are (lucky) you are given a series of simple math problems but the numbers in the problem are substituted with emojis. Based on the number in the answer you have to deduce what number the emoji represents.
There are many websites such as Solvemoji that have premade visuals but feel free to make your own. Making your own can be nice because you can make problems that are specific to the students’ math level. By the way, this can work in any class, not just math!
7. Would You Rather
Playing a game of Would You Rather is a fun way to burn those last few minutes of class and get to know your students better. You can make up your own questions or go online and find a website that has some fun questions already made. Save questions you like in a notebook or on cards for future use.
You can play Would You Rather in many different ways. One way is to read out the question and have students share their choice with the class. You can also break the class into groups and have them discuss what they would pick amongst themselves. Another great way to play Would You Rather is by getting the students up and moving! If they pick option one have them move to one side of the room and if they pick option two have them move to the other.
8. Silent Reading
Having students silent read won’t make you the most popular teacher but sometimes you need a few minutes of quiet. Many schools require students to carry around a reading book but if your school doesn’t it might be a good idea to have some subject related magazines or light reading material available (some great options for all ages include world record books or fun fact books).
Another classic game that can fill time is Hangman. Make sure you set limits on how long a word or phrase can be and make sure to remind students to pick something appropriate (it does not go without saying). Have the person at the board pick students one at a time to guess a letter. If the student at the board keeps picking the same few students, step in and say that the teacher gets to pick who guesses the next letter.
The last option on this list is Pictionary. This simple game can be a hilarious distraction at the end of class. Make a list of words for students to chose from or use a Pictionary Word Generator with varying levels of difficulty. You can play this in a team format or have a single student draw for the whole class.