Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

What Do You Do When You Have A Few Minutes Left In Class?


The next post in my “What Do You Do?” series will be:

What Do You Do When You’ve Finished Your Lesson, But Have Five or Ten Minutes Of Classtime Left?

Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments section of this post prior to June 1st, and include how you’d like to be described.

Previous posts in this series have been:

What Do You Do When You’re Having A Bad Day At School?

What Do You Do To Keep Students (And You!) Focused Near The End Of The Year?

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. I teach Geography, so the last 5-10 minutes of class time is always well spent reviewing maps. We grab atlases and compete to see who can find a random country the fastest. The first one with their finger on the country and their hand in the air wins. It’s easy and requires no advanced preparation, but has long-lasting results.

  2. I have a book of 5 minute mysteries. We read aloud and students use their inductive and deductive reasoning skills to try to solve the mystery.
    I also have all of the review games that I’ve developed over the year for our interactive whiteboard. They are always readily on hand to open up and use to go back over previous units of study.
    There are also some fun vanity license plates to decipher here ( The kids love the challenge!

  3. I play critical thinking games or read out brain teasers. I also have a student submitted (pre read) joke/riddle box.

  4. I teach fifth grade so sometimes it’s just as simple as pulling out something we’re working on and you have some time to work on it. But the kids love it when we get out the Brain Quest, or Trivial Pursuit Cards. Another good time filler we do is math facts around the world style.

  5. If I’m working with computers I get the students to “post” a highlight, lesson learned, or question on
    In the classroom I love bubble basic facts practise on the Smartboard, throwing the koush(that’s definitely spelled wrong) at the circles to reveal the fact, and then the answer.

  6. I teach 3 subjects, but this doesn’t matter because they all need the review. I like to review the day’s topic with real-world applications. When I taught Area the application was painting. If you want to paint the classroom three colors what are the colors and a close approximation of the amount paint you would need? Some are still trying to figure out the amount of paint!

  7. I te3ach project based differentiated instruction so there are always diverse projects going on-but an idea I love to try and work in is using the classroom blog site

  8. Hi Larry,

    I have several options (to keep things from getting stale 😉

    1. Vocabulary Review – students go back through their books- previous units or through my conversation control sheets and look for highlighted words and make example sentences.

    2. Vocabulary Review – students take two words from their lessons today and tell me how they anticipate activating these new words in English conversations during the coming week.

    3. Feedback – how are we doing? What have we learned so far/ in the lesson today / how can we apply this knowledge to our real lives?

    Sorry, you got three – take care
    (Author of SimplyConversations & Blogger)

  9. I have a few things I might do if I have some extra time at the end of a class. My favorite is to read to them. Even seventh graders love to hear a story. On Friday, while we were waiting for the parents to arrive for our field trip, I started reading “The Phantom Tollbooth” to them. Within thirty seconds of starting, you could hear a pin drop in my classroom!

    Of course, the fact that it’s so much fun for me to read out loud and do the voices and put on a little performance, has absolutely nothing to do with it. 🙂

  10. We work on a quick Renaissance program called Math Facts in a Flash to practice math facts on computer. I read aloud math brainteasers and make up my own. I challenge students to come up with long “incredible Equations” for the number of the school day-How many days have we been in school? I read aloud from whatever read aloud chapter book we have going at the moment.
    Or since I teach second grade all boys, we may take a one minute organize your desk or locker break.

  11. I teach high school, so if it is only 5-10 minutes, I let them chill. Everybody needs some downtime, and many schools have eliminated breaks during the morning and afternoon.

    • I also teach high school (science) and with the intensity and volume of content of the academic subject taught, I can’t imagine allowing the students to “chill”. I can always capture their interest with a SCIENCE DEMO of the DAY (related to the topic presented). Occasionally with 5-10 minutes left we close our books and brainstorm new vocabulary or even play a quick game of vocabulary challenge. Whatever I choose it keeps them going to the very end.

  12. One of the thinking routines from Project Zero (highly recommended reading !)
    eg Connect Extend Challenge. How does today’s learning connect to what you already knew? How did it extend your thinking further? What challenges/questions do you still have?

  13. I love to bring out instruments (if I have any) and sing songs. Sometimes the songs are related to content, other times, they are fun songs that we sing as a class.

  14. I teach fifth grade. Here are some of the things I do when I have five minutes of class time: 1) Pick sticks (random selection) for one minute speeches for table points. Some of the topics include such things as, tell all the uses you can think of for chewing gum. They aren’t allowed to say what the topic is, the class has to guess. Another might be, convince the class that you would be a good president. I have over 100 topics on laminated papers prepared, so they never have the same topic in a year.
    2) Spelling sparkle to review spelling words.
    3)Watch a segment from (all clips are five minutes or less) professionals showing their job and relating how math and science help them in their profession. (Free)
    4) Watch a clip from My school purchased a membership for me, but you can have a trial with an email account for one week without purchasing. Excellent learning tool.

  15. As a first grade teacher I’ve always got a book or two ready to read. Other options include various ways to practice math facts, playing spelling sparkle, or telling a story that we each add on one by one.

    • Hi Jenny, please tell me what spelling sparkle is? I teach third grade and would love to hear a new way to study spelling words.

  16. I teach 7th grade go and most of students get done at varying times, so on most days I send them to my free time page. It has tons of quasi education fun stuff for them to do. It keeps the fast workers occupied and allows the slower ones time to finish up.

  17. I teach classes of over 30 teens and usually assign some homework, so if I finish everything I’d planned before the bell goes off, I usually encourage them to start working on their homework so that they don’t need to go about it at home. If they have tests on other subjects after my lesson, they usually request permission to use that time for reviewing, and I let them. While they do whatever they’ve chosen to do, I walk around and try and start some casual conversation with those of them I haven’t had much chance to interact during the lesson, especially if they seem not to be using their time in any fruitful way… 😉 it’s just light-hearted chat on any topic of their interest, not on the point of the lesson!


  18. Remind me to 2 years ago when I was teaching biology.. In last few minutes, I ask my student about their activities in campus or home…also about their boy/girlfriend.. I make a last minutes as relax as possible caused I want to also be their friend..

  19. I love to play the Princeton Review Vocabulary Minute for my students. There are always 4-5 words that go with the theme of the song. Whether it is a greek/latin/french root, or a list of synonyms, the students like to sing along and try to remember the words and meanings at the end (for a small treat, usually… cap eraser or m&m). Sometimes, for the really good ones that we play over and over, I’ll catch the kids singing them on their own, or even asking me to play them.

  20. I let them go early.

  21. I teach 3rd grade math, so on days when we have a few minutes left (rare), we play little math games that don’t require cards, pieces, or any kind of equipment. “Math around the World,” or a “Multiplication Bee” or something like that. The kids enjoy it because it’s a game, and it helps to drill their basic facts.

  22. As a third grade teacher teaching South Carolina History and ELA I use the last 5 min. for a review of South Carolina Facts. Each week my students have 10 SC social studies facts that they have to know by Friday. So each day I review. I also take that time to read to my student.

  23. I usually plan 5 minutes to clean-up the science classroom each day. Rarely do we just have free time at the end of class. On the rare occasions we have any free time, I allow students to bring up any science related question and we talk about how to solve it (or where to do research online that might have a plausible answer.)

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  28. I teach hign school students. It helps them a lot when I get their attention and ask them to say what we exactly did during the session. A kind of review in their own words to get feed back…

  29. I teach high school art. Whenever students have any sort of downtime, they work in their sketchbooks. It’s a nice no-mess, easy-to-whip-out-on-a-moment’s-notice kind of activity. I use sketchbooks as an ongoing assignment throughout the year as both creativity development and artwork inspiration. I provide 5-minute drawing/writing prompts every day in the beginning of class as well as various activities they can choose from to supplement their own independent drawings. Subs also like having this as a backup option because students can work on it for just a few minutes or the whole hour, and can never say they don’t have anything to do. Assignment resources can be found here:

  30. I teach elementary general music, and my class time at the end is as follows (and varies according to the class dynamic)

    Kinder -gr. 2: I’ll read a rhyming book, or one with ‘sounds’ the class can create. I also have movement CD’s that I’ll play and they’ll sing along, and act out the actions accordingly.
    K – gr. 4: Freeze Dance…I control the stereo, pausing the music to ‘catch’ kids still in motion. I like to use famous ‘classical’ pieces that they should be introduced to, IMHO…
    Gr. 3/4 – 5/6: silent ball (except for the music as above, or if they are really charming, an appropriate song of their choice!) — sometimes the older kids want to play freeze dance as well…

  31. I am a student! Last five mins are for muck up! I will sit here for the last three minutes here at this computer typing this!

    I am bored. I will type slowly,

  32. Im a student, and we always write what we learned that day in our composition books

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