Basket of Tricks – 5 Minute Time Fillers for the Classroom

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Written by Holly (Teach Starter)

Time is precious! Especially when teaching young minds.

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If I was asked when I was teaching what is one thing I need more of, I would have said time!! There is never enough time in a school day! My days were always jam packed with educational goodness, that’s why when 5 minutes opened up – it really threw me!

What do you do with this time? There isn’t enough time to start anything new or get students engaged in work. But, you don’t want to waste this precious opportunity of time where you could teach or reinforce topics with your students.

That is where this basket of tricks comes in handy! No thinking required, grab a resource and have some focused fun with your students.

I picked up this basket from Kmart, but any small storage box will do the trick! Like what I did there? ?


What’s in My Basket of Tricks?

You can obviously pick and choose the best resources that fit your class and their capabilities. I find little word problems, domino cards, and match-up games are great mini activities you can do with the whole class. I will explain this later in the blog. Other games such as BINGO are great, but I used to find, especially in the early years, this would often take 5 or more minutes to set up. You need quick and easy activities you can start straight away!

In my box of tricks I have the following:


Some Ideas

Jumbo Playing Cards

These are a great size for whole class games that you can use to focus on number concepts.

Divide your class into two groups, and have them stand in straight lines facing you!

The person at the start of each line goes first. You hold two cards up, the person who adds the values shown on both cards and yells out the total first is the winner and get’s a point for their team.

Then, that pair head to the back of their team’s line and you do the same thing for the next students in line.

You can alter this activity to multiplication or other maths concepts to make it harder for older students.


Whiteboard Markers

The object of the game is to guess the other player’s number before they guess yours.

To play, two students come up to the board and stand back to back (hence the name).

This allows for the students to write on the board, but blocks their view of the other person’s number.

The two students write a number of their choice on the board. You can play with numbers as high or as low as needed for your group of kids.

Another student states what both numbers added together equals.

The students then use their understanding of maths facts to figure out what the other person’s number is.

The player to say the other person’s number first wins the round.


Dominoes / Match-Up Cards

We have a range of dominoes cards and match-up cards that cover a number of different topics.

A fun whole class activity is to give each student a domino card and as a class, they need to work together to link the dominoes.

Students could stand in a circle and lay the dominoes cards in the middle! A very interesting whole class activity! This will show your leaders from your followers!

Using match-up cards you can hand them out and the students then need to find their match-up partner.


Maths Word Problem Cards

We have a range of word problem cards that you can print and have readily available in your basket of tricks.

You could read one of the word problems to the class and have students try to work out the answer on some show-me boards.


I’m Thinking of a Number

The teacher can start by saying – ‘I’m thinking of a number between 20 – 80’.

The students then have 20 questions to ask to try and work out what number it is.

You could even do ‘I’m thinking of a Fairy-Tale character’.

Once the teacher has had a go, students can take turns to be the leader! Simple, easy – yet effective!

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