Prepare ahead of time: activities to fill free time during lessons

Whether you’re starting out in education or you’re making the move back in, time filling activities are great tools for any supply teacher to have prepared ahead of time.


You may find that the lesson plan hasn’t been finalised or the work hasn’t taken as long as you thought, either way, if you’re prepared ahead of time then there will be minimal disruption to the pupils and their learning?


That’s why this month we wanted to explore some of the most popular time-filling activities that you can use during your placement.


Writing a communal story


If you have time to spare and you’re thinking about getting all your pupils involved, then writing a communal story is something to consider. Start with one sentence on the board, and then ask each pupil, in turn, to come up and add another underneath.


Not only will make all pupils feel included; it also helps to teach them about grammar, tenses, creative thinking and teamwork. The longer this goes on for, the more creative they become and the more likely they are to apply this thinking to future lessons.


Alternative book covers/blurbs


Another activity you can use to fill time is to get your pupils to write alternative books blurbs or get them to draw an alternative book cover. Make sure you pick a well-known book, or give them an overview of what it includes before setting the task.


This helps them to use their creative skills, whilst giving them the flexibility to take a project and form it in their own way. If there aren’t any books to spring to mind, then you could replace it with a popular film, or something that’s happening in the news instead. Rather than a book blurb, they could write a magazine article or film review.




Taboo is a great way to improve teamwork and creative thinking. Split the classroom into two teams (one half vs. the other) and get one child to stand with their back to the board.


You could draw a picture on the board, and then set a timer. The pupil’s team need to then describe it to them, without saying exactly what it is. For example, if you draw a monkey, they could describe it as “likes to eat bananas”. You could award points for each correct answer, or just use this activity as a bit of fun.


20 Questions


An old favourite with adults and children alike, 20 Questions is another activity that helps pupils to develop analytical skills and enhance their technical questioning.


Remember to set out ground rules for this game though. The rest of the class can only ask questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”, and they could potentially only have five “are you a…” questions before the first pupil wins a point.


Alphabet Association


One of the best ways to encourage competition and get pupils to develop their memories is to play the Alphabet Association game. Once again, split the classroom into two, pick a letter of the alphabet and get them to write down as many words as they can on a topic.


This could be countries, animals, recipe ingredients or famous people. Whatever you choose, make sure you set out some ground rules. This game can get noisy; so make sure they know that if they start shouting and become disruptive, they will lose points.


White Board Slam


This time-filling activity is ideal for helping your pupils increase their vocabulary and encourages competition. Start with a word that you’ve chosen on the board, preferably with four letters.


Challenge your pupils to come up with another word by changing only one letter. Once again, you could split them into teams so that individual pupils don’t get singled out. The aim is to see how many new words they can come up with, without repeating any that have been written down already.


Further reading


For more information on how to enhance your teaching and improve your time with an education recruitment agency, take a look at the articles listed below:



In summary, if you’re able to prepare ahead of time and take in some time-filling lesson plans, your day will be a lot smoother and more enjoyable. The pupils’ education won’t be impacted, and you’re going to be encouraging further learning through fun activities.


Are there any that you’ve used recently that you think we should know about? Do you have a particular go-to when it comes to filling time at the end of the lessons? We’d love to hear from you, so make sure you let us know in the comments below.


Remember, if you need help, support or advice during your placement, then our team are here for you. You can get in touch with us here, or reach out to us on our Twitter and Facebook profiles.

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