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10 Zero-Prep Fillers

July 2, 2019

There are few feelings more uncomfortable than reaching the end of a lesson plan, glancing at the clock, and discovering that the bell won’t ring for another 10 or 15 minutes.

Here’s a list of 10 fillers that will make those extra minutes fly by. (And best of all, you won’t need to run to the teachers’ lounge to make photocopies!)

  1. Have students look around the classroom and write down all the objects that begin with the letter b. Set a timer for two minutes and make it a competition to see who can name the most items. Let the winner choose another letter and play the game again.
  2. Ask students to describe their country’s flag as you draw it on the board. If you have a multicultural class, pair students with someone from a different country. Have them describe their flags to each other.
  3. Put students in groups of three. Direct students to choose something in their wallet, purse, or backpack and tell their group members about it. They should say where they got the object, how long they’ve had it, why it’s important to them, etc.
  4. Erase the board and have students call out any new words and expressions from the day’s lesson that they can remember. Then have students rank these vocabulary items based on how useful they think the items are.
  5. Write a four- or five-letter word, such as tooth, on the board. See if students can change just one letter to make a new word. For example, you can change the first t to b to form the word booth; then change the h to s and you have the word boots. Challenge students to make ten new words.
  6. Tear a piece of paper into several slips, which you’ll distribute as needed during the game. Sit in a circle with your students. Draw a simple object on one of the slips. Show the picture to the student on your left. Have that student whisper the name of the object they think the picture depicts to the person on his/her left. That person should then draw a picture of the word they hear, and so on.
  7. Have students sit in a circle. Choose a category of nouns, such as animals. Call out a word from this category: bird. The person on your right must say an animal that begins with the last letter of this noun: d (e.g., dog).
  8. Tell students that you have a friend named Mrs. McGillicutty and that this friend likes many things, but there are some things she doesn’t like at all. It is their job to figure out what makes her fond of certain things—they all have double letters in their names. Give students a few examples: Mrs. McGillicutty likes cheese, but she doesn’t like crackers. She likes soccer and she adores volleyball, but she doesn’t like sports. Then have students ask you questions about things Mrs. McGillicutty likes and doesn’t like. (E.g., Does she like dessert? Yes, she does. Does she like chocolate? No, she doesn’t. Does she like apple pie? Yes, she does.)
  9. Give students a few minutes to think about a mistake they have made while speaking English this week. Ask them to write down a sentence that contains this error. Have them show the sentence to a partner and see if their partner can correct it.
  10. Write a fairly long word on the board such as dictionary. Students must make as many words as they can from the letters in the word (e.g., a, dart, any, day, city, yard, tidyration).


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Comments (3)

Geoffrey R.(Teacher)

Excellent! some really cool ideas! thank you and let's have more...Please!

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Pamela M.(Teacher)

Great ideas! Thanks ;)

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Pamela Williams(Guest)

Love it thanks!

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