Have a few minutes to spare in class?  Try this!

You know the feeling: the kids have wrapped up their work, or packed up their bag, or the librarian is running late picking the kids up…and now you have 5 minutes where you need to either keep the kids busy, or the boredom will set in, which of course leads to behavior challenges.

Here are my tried-and-true 5-minute activities for keeping kids occupied while in line, or to fill a few minutes, or even to give the children a chance to stand up and switch tasks to help them focus.

Red Cup Balancing Act Burst

I first saw this activity as I was doing my pre-service placement, and I was shocked how well it worked to get the wiggles out with the grade 5 class I was in.  Grab a disposable cup (like a red solo cup), with activities inside, such as squats, lunges, jumping jacks, etc.  You can even have the kids fill them in themselves.  Have the children gently bounce the cup in their dominant hand, trying to keep it in the air as long as they can.  If the cup hits the floor, have them perform the skill inside the cup. Then have them switch their cup with a friend and try the same activity with their non-dominant hand, or back and forth from left to right. No cups? You can also do this activity with crumpled up paper from your recycling bin.

Think Quick

Have the children find a partner and stand face-to-face with them.  Have them practice the following movements:

  1. High five with left hand (you will call this “ONE”)
  2. High five with right hand (you will call this “TWO”)
  3. Tap left feet together (you will call this “THREE”)
  4. Tap right feet together (you will call this “FOUR”)

Give the children a change to practice this slowly, calling out each number in order.  Depending on the age of the children, you can call out the numbers slowly at first and then more quickly, or mix up the numbers and the partners need to “think quick” to do the right action.  So, it could sound like “One!  Four! Three! One! Two! One!”

Hips, Shoulders, Neck, Pylon

Have the children get into partners and place a pylon, book, pencil case, water bottle, or some other easy to grab item between them. They can be sitting or standing.  Have them follow the instructions you call out by touching that part. “Hips, shoulder, neck …” etc. When you call out “pylon”, the children reach for the item between them and try to be the first to grab it. This works well with older students who tend to be more competitive.

Deck of Cards

Draw the 4 suits of a deck of cards on the board and draw or write one activity to be associated with each. For example, clubs are squats, spades are lunges, hearts are jumping jacks, and diamonds are push-ups. Have the children take turns choosing a card, and the children perform that many repetitions of the associated exercise. For example, if they pull a ten of hearts, as a group the children would perform 10 jumping jacks.

Square Breathing

This is a phenomenal activity for children to perform when they are sitting down and waiting for something to begin, to help them focus their attention. Have the children sit criss-cross, and draw an imaginary square in front of them in the air, they breath along with it as follows:

  1. Top of square – breathe in
  2. Left side of square – hold breath in
  3. Bottom of square – breathe out
  4. Right side of square – hold breath out

Perform as long as you like. I actually practice this one myself, as I have recently started incorporating more breathing activities into my day, and I find the visual of the square helps to keep me focused – try it alongside the kids!

Do you have any quick activities you like to do with your students in class?  Share by tagging us on social!  For more ideas, be sure to check out our YouTube channel or sign up for our weekly Burst emails.


Director, BOKS Canada