five minute fillers

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4 of the best five-minute filler games

It doesn’t matter what time of year you read this, there is always five minutes to fill in a day.

five minute fillers
five minute fillers
five minute fillers
five minute fillers
five minute fillers
five minute fillers
five minute fillers
five minute fillers
five minute fillers

It might be that assembly or collective worship ran late and you can’t fit that final activity into your perfectly planned lesson, or even worse it finishes earlier than anyone can possibly have predicted. You might have a slot of time at the end of the day that you use to reinforce phonics, SPaG or time tables. It might be your snack time. There are always moments that need filling before crazy behaviour threatens to take over.

Stand by for 4 of the most versatile five-minute fillers. I’ve tried and tested them all with my own kiddos and know that you and your students will love them too! They are all versatile so once the game procedure is secure you can use them in a variety of ways to embed or reinforce Phonics, Spelling, Grammar, Number bonds, Times Tables, Fact families, and new vocab!

Beat the teacher:

  • Every child needs a whiteboard and pen, and the adult needs a large whiteboard all the kids can see.
  • An “independent” adult (or child adults referee better most of the time) calls a tricky* word and everyone, including the adult, writes the word 5 times once in each corner of the board and once in the middle. Use this adult to also adjudicate, when necessary, it can get passionate during this game!
  • Remember to remind them they need to write neatly and clearly.
  • If teacher finishes first, teacher scores a point, and if any student finishes first, the kids win a point.
  • I recommend that the teacher spells the word out loud as they do their writing, to aid the children who need more support also if they struggle with speed/scribing then discreetly tell them they only need to write twice/three times as deemed appropriate.

five minute fillers

Tricky word wars:

  • Sit the learners in a circle, or go round room if more convenient!
  • 2 children stand next to each other and adult calls an appropriate tricky word (or use number facts, number bonds, times tables, name the word class….)
  • Whoever spells it (or answers) correctly first wins, and stays standing. I normally play this with them shouting the spelling, but it can be done with a whiteboard write and show first.
  • Their opponent sits down and the next child in the circle/situation becomes the challenger. Play continues as before.
  • Engage others by telling them to write the word on a whiteboard at the same time so they can check their friends’ spellings.
  • If a child wins 5 times in a row they receive a reward (sticker / something in line with your school system), and stand down so that you have 2 new students for the next spelling.

five minute fillers

20 questions:

  • Remind children that a question needs to find out new information. If someone else has asked the same question we shouldn’t ask the same one!
  • Adult is “Quizmaster” and counts down how many questions have been asked and what information has been revealed.
  • One person thinks of a noun or number.
  • Everyone else has 20 questions (as a group) to discover what the noun/number is.
  • This game practices question words, sentences and listening to peers!
  • Repeat as time allows.

five minute fillers

Act it out.

  • You need to create 2 set of cards (I often used post-it notes or scraps of paper) – one pile of adverbs and one pile of verbs. It works best if you ensure they are all different words.
  • Make sure the two piles are face down.
  • On their turn children need to select one note from each pile and act it out to their team without speaking!
  • If they guess it in 1 minute the guesser and actor both win a point!
  • Keep taking turns!

five minute fillers

How do you fill those precious five minutes? Do you have games that you use to plug gaps as five-minute fillers? Let me know in the comments, sign up for my regular educator newsletter or email me direct at

five minute fillers


*anytime you see tricky word you can also read it as: common exception word, sight word, Dolce list word, red word or high frequency word!

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