We’ve all had those moments in our classroom where we’ve planned the absolute perfect lesson that will fill the entire time we’ve set aside…and then your kids end up whizzing through it or it completely falls flat, leaving you scratching your head, frustrated, or exhausted! Or, maybe your kids get a case of the wiggles and just need a quick break!
Sometimes you just need to fill in that time without having to do any prep! Look no further. Keep reading to read about some of our favorite no-prep activities that are sure to keep your students entertained and engaged. Whether it’s for five minutes or an hour, these easy-to-do activities require nothing more than what is already in your classroom!
Related: Math Worksheets for 1st Grade
You know when you have a little bit of time between a lesson and recess? Or kids are finishing up lessons at different times? You can’t start a new lesson because there isn’t time or some of your students aren’t even done with the original lesson!
Well, the B.A.T. Books are the perfect thing to fill in the gap! B.A.T. stands for Brain’s Always Thinking! Each book is filled with Math and Language Arts activities that stretch brains a little bit more!
These books, which can be easily prepped well in advance, are kept inside of students’ desks. If they get a free moment here or there, you can simply say, “Pull out your B.A.T. Book!” Students can hop around activities to find they are interested in working on.
Want to try it? Go check out this sample of the 1st-grade book!
Let’s see if directed drawings check all the boxes. No-Prep? CHECK! Minimal materials needed? CHECK! Stress-free for teachers? CHECK! Fun for kids? CHECK, CHECK!
Directed drawings are a great way to help students explore the creative process, while also requiring very little energy from the teacher. Amy Lemons loves using directed drawings as Fun Friday activities, early finisher tasks & activities, or just even as a time filler. You can also pair drawings with your favorite read-aloud so that you are integrating reading with art. The best part?! You’ll be fostering creativity in your students and encouraging them to create something unique!
Makerspace Story Station
No-prep activities are the perfect solution for busy elementary school teachers who need more time to create elaborate lesson plans. Not only do no-prep activities save time, but they can also be fun and engaging for students. Trina Deboree from Trina Deboree Teaching and Learning shares some examples of low-prep or no-prep activities you can use in your elementary classroom immediately!
From scavenger hunts to puzzles, there are many ways to get your students excited about learning without spending much time on preparation. For example, you could set up a treasure hunt where kids must solve math problems as clues that lead them to the prize. Or why not give your students a paper puzzle and see how quickly they can assemble it?
Trina’s favorite low prep activity is a Makerspace story station. All you need is a story with a solid problem, odds, and ends from your classroom, like blocks, pipe cleaners, or even trash, for kids to create solutions to the problem in the story. Grab a free Makerspace Story Station that focuses on Grit here. Creative challenges like this can help keep their minds active and engaged while still having a great time.
Dry Erase Fun!
Marcy from Saddle Up for 2nd Grade works with a lot of teachers to implement guided math. One reason that holds teachers back is all the prep but guess what? It doesn’t have to be as complicated as it sounds.
One of the best parts about math is that there are so many no prep activities that you can do using materials and manipulatives that you already have laying around your classroom.
Grab some dice and a dry erase board and you have an instant math center. Roll dice to generate numbers for addition and subtraction, place value, counting coins, and so much more.
Marcy even has a FREE 2nd grade math activity guide that includes over 70 no prep activities for every single standard. Everything she shares can be done using math manipulatives or other items you have in your classroom. This comes in handy when you need quick ideas for small groups or math centers.
We have all been there. We are inching to the end of a lesson, and we see the wiggles start to happen. We all need a break from time to time, even as adults. On her blog, Mrs. Richardson’s Class, Amanda shares a FREE list of 11 brain breaks that are perfect for any K-2 classroom! From crossing the midline, to claming exercises, to a classroom with a small space, there is something for every type of classroom and every learner! The best part is that they are no prep–just read from the list and get to moving your body!
The Back to Back Game
If you’re struggling to fill time, but want to keep the academics moving, Leigh from The Applicious Teacher loves playing The Back to Back Game.
To play is simple, and 100% NO PREP! All you need is a whiteboard and two markers. To play, split your class into two teams. Then, have two players go up to the board and stand back to back. Each student writes a number on the board between 1-9. Then, a caller says the sum (for younger students) or product (for older). The student who guesses the other student’s number first wins! Then, the loser picks the next person to go up. This simple game is perfect for reviewing addition or multiplication facts! You can click here to see more amazing ideas from Leigh and sign up to gain access to this game idea and more in The Applicious Resource Library.
When we get close to the end of the school year, we become highly aware of all of the skills our students have not yet mastered. Every minute counts! Stephanie from The Simple Classroom has four NO-PREP review games that hit on dozens of skills at once. Each game can be played whether you have 5 minutes or 25 minutes to fill.
These games are highly engaging, but require absolutely no pre-planning or prep work on your part. Just use materials that you already have in your classroom! Students will be practicing skills and growing, every minute of the day. Read about the games here.
Related: Want ZERO prep math games delivered to your doorstep? Check out Math Centers in a Snap here!
Every minute of class time is valuable and it’s the little things that can really make a difference. When Tammy from The Owl Teacher needs to fill a few minutes of class time, she likes to use those spare minutes to engage students in a little math quest to reinforce important concepts that students need reviewing.
What is math quest? Math Quest is an engaging and interactive way to practice important math skills with a “create your own adventure” type of twist! Just throw the activity up on your whiteboard and travel through the paths solving the math problems and collecting clues! You can click here to learn more about Math Quests from Tammy.
Quick Phonics Drills
Do you have a few spare minutes in the classroom but not enough to start a new lesson? Angela from The Daily Alphabet has the perfect solution – quick phonological awareness drills! These drills help phonics instruction stick and offer a quick yet effective way to review crucial concepts. The best part is that these drills require no preparation and help to make phonics instruction stick!
Angela shares a free phonological cheat sheet on her blog that provides examples of these quick routines you can implement today!
Math Choice Boards
It’s so important to encourage students to think outside of the box when working on math skills. Not everything has to be drill based. That’s why Ronnie from A Teacher’s Wonderland created math choice boards. Math choice boards are perfect to encourage students to think outside of the box. They can be used as an enrichment activity for students who finish their work early, or as a challenging task for those needing an extra push.
The boards are ready to print at the beginning of the unit and can be given out to each student so they can track their progress throughout the unit. There’s also a matching worksheet that comes with each box, so no extra preparation is needed – just print and go! To learn more about choice boards, you can read about it here.
Do you have any favorite five-minute fillers? Let me know!