5 minutes until the bell....what to do??

What do you do when you have 5 minutes until the bell?   You can't just let the kids go home (though, sometimes it would be SO nice to do ;) ) and breaking out the books to start a new lesson is out of the question, so you need to have some little filler activities to do with them.  Here are a few things that I do to help fill the time, but still have *some* educational basis.

1.  Mental Math

My kids LOVE this.  There is no paper or pencils allowed.  The only tools the kids have is their mind.  I basically give the kids a very long math problem, where they are doing multiple operations in succession.  For example, I will say, "5 plus 5, minus 8, times 2 equals...."   When I say equals, that is the students' cue to answer.  They may only raise their hand when I say equals.  The kid who raises their hand first gets to answer and then we start again.  Sometimes I make the problem really hard, sometimes really easy.  The idea is that they are using their brains and calculating everything without relying on pencil and paper.  It also is a great, educational time filler.

2.  Sparkle

spelling game
This is a spelling game.  The kids line up in a circle.  I give them a word to spell.  The first kid says the first letter.  The second says the next letter, and so on.  When the word has finally been completely spelled, the next kid says "Sparkle" and the kid after him is out.  Then the process starts over again until there is only one student standing.  We try to do this as fast as possible...sort of "Speed Sparkle" if you will. The kids love it...and it only takes a few minutes.

3.  What I Learned in 5th Grade

Mrs. Moorman   upper grade  Stephanie Moorman
Whenever we have extra time, I have my students break out their "What I Learned in 5th Grade" Sheets.  I give these to them at the beginning of the year, and as the year goes on, I periodically ask them to add to it.  Now, I do have to say that these sheets look pretty grubby now.  But that is ok.  Near the end of the year I plan to take each sheet, back it, laminate it, and include it in a yearbook for the kids.  So, grubby is ok...at least it is full of great things we have learned all year!  ;)    Here is a copy for you.  I actually made one for a few different grade levels (as I know there are many grade levels represented here)  Enjoy!

4.  Reading

This sounds like a no-brainer, but really, anytime we get a few extra minutes, I love to have the kids get out their library books and read.  We really do so little reading for enjoyment during the day, that any spare time we have is always used well when a book is in the hands of the students.

OK...so there are a few of the ideas I have on how to fill that extra 5 minutes.  What about you?  What are some thing YOU do in YOUR classroom to keep the class learning in those minutes before the bell?

5 minute time fillers   education


  1. My students love sparkle. We usually play it when we're lined-up to go home and waiting for the bell.


    1. You know, I never even thought about doing it as we are actually lined up! Fabulous!

  2. My kids love Sparkle too! We play it in a circle with a ball. We pass the ball like a hot potato, so they have to be able to spell quickly!


    1. I bet they love that! Thanks for sharing your alternative. My kids love to play silent ball too...so maybe they will love to play Sparkle Ball!

  3. Everybody loves sparkle!!! My daughter, who is in kindergarten, came home all excited this week because she "taught" the principal how to play sparkle. Too cute!
    LOVE the "what I learned ..." sheets - they would make a great addition to our portfolios! Thanks!

    Runde's Room

    1. The sheets really are a great record for the kids too. Would be perfect in a portfolio!

  4. These are great ideas! I played Sparkle with my student teaching class but with my tiny class having two different spelling lists... it isn't working so well. But maybe next year!

    If we have extra time, I usually whip out a book and read it aloud to them. Or we play vocabulary Silent Ball, where when they catch the ball, they have to define one of our vocab words. Or we stand in a circle and skip count!

    Marvelous Multiagers!

    1. I remember doing a skip counting game when I was in school. The 3s and 6s were so hard!

  5. I love playing sparkle with my kids too! Another game my students really enjoy is "uh, um, or like". I choose a completely random topic, like beach balls, and the student whose turn it is has to talk about this topic for 30 seconds without saying "uh, um, or like". They have a really hard time with this because what they are saying has to make sense! I can't even do it! If they pass 30 seconds, next time they have a turn they have to talk for 45 seconds. They can never make it pass 1 minute!

    1. That is a great idea! I bet it is so so hard for them to do. I will have to try this game out in my class. Thank you for sharing!

  6. I play a patterning game that my kids love.
    I call out a number of students by name and they have to stand in the order in which they were called.
    The students have to guess the pattern. It could be something physical like shoelaces or hairstyles or it could be something to do with their names.
    The kids love it, it takes no prep or cleanup and you can keep going for as long as you need until the bell goes.

  7. Love all these ideas! The five minutes before the end of the day are the worst, worst, worst time of the day for my class!
    Stories From Second

  8. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing! I am your newest follower! Stop by and visit me...


  9. Love the idea of Sparkle!

    I play SKUNK (my kids love it) or we guess numbers (I give one clue at a time) they also enjoy that.

  10. We do mental math as well. The kids love this challenge! They beg to do this..and even ask for more numbers in the list!

  11. We're big fans of Sparkle. We also do around the world, usually sans flash cards...I like to have them skip count instead. When I get to them, if they don't know the number, or say the wrong number, they're out.

    We also play Versus. It's not educational, but it's fun and they love it. I just say something like hamburgers or hot dogs, and they go to whichever side they prefer. They loooove it!!

    Across the Hall in 2nd


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