I imagine most of us have been in this situation before: you plan a great lesson, it is engaging, challenging, and every student completes the work. Then you look at the clock and there’s 15 minutes left to class. Well that happened to me not too long ago; the lesson and activity that took one group of 7th graders the whole period to complete was finished by the other group with about 15 minutes left to class.
So I had an unexpected amount of time to fill at the end of class and especially since this is the last class of the day, I thought an interactive and fun review game was in order rather than moving on to the next lesson ahead of my other 7th graders.
Part of their upcoming test was going to include map skills, so I took out a bunch of different types of maps (including some random ones I have of Belgium shaped like a lion and some exploration era maps with sea monsters in the water), and I put them out on my front table and the girls divided into two teams of 8 for a family feud-ish style competition.
One girl from each team came to the table and I said things like “find the political map, find the map that has a peninsula on it, pick up the map showing the eastern hemisphere, which map is the distribution map and what does it show,” etc and whichever team picked the correct map got a point. They got another point for correctly explaining why they chose that map. Whichever team had the most points by the time I ran out of questions (which would hopefully be just before afternoon announcements) would get to chew gum or have a lollipop in class the next day. Well let me tell you, that got them REALLY excited and focused on the game, and once we started they were engaged and reviewing until the end of class.
That method admittedly takes some prep and thinking on your feet (certainly for the questions since I didn’t have those planned ahead of time, but afterwards I wrote a whole list of them in case I needed to do a similar review with a different group another day), but I happened to have the maps on hand already (over the summer I had printed them as 5x7s for an activity with my geography kids)
If you don’t have maps like that on hand, these are some other activities my students have enjoyed over the years when I’ve needed a time filler (but they don’t need to know it wasn’t in my lesson plans, haha):
1. Have pairs compete to incorporate the most vocab words from the unit thus far into historically correct sentences (spoken or written).
2. Class can be divided into two teams, make flash card (or task card) review questions and answers and swap cards with the other team (I hold on to the answer cards to keep the kids honest). Then they compete to answer the all cards correctly and whichever team does it the fastest can get an extra credit point or two on the test (to each teacher their own of course).
3. In pairs, students make anticipation guides for the next day’s lesson based on prior knowledge, swap them with another pair, and see how they do.
4. As a bonus idea, if you have an inflatable globe or globe type ball, you can toss it to a student and when they catch it, they have to name the country their left index finger is touching. Then they name another country that starts with the letter the country they already identified ends with (i.e. Denmark–Kenya). Then they toss it to another student and repeat the above.
5. Another bonus idea is to have the students each act out a vocab term or person from the unit charades style for their classmates to guess what it is and provide an identification for it.
What is one of your go-to ways to fill unplanned “free” time at the end of class?
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