Saturday, 26 April 2014

Five favourite go-to filler activities

These are for when your lesson finishes sooner than planned or when you feel like doing a random fun activity. No preparation required.

  • Word association. Give an example of how it works, then do it as a whole class activity, either working round in order or moving randomly from pupil to pupil. Stress that they should not plan words in advance and that they are allowed to pass. With the right class they can do it in small groups or pairs. This works at all levels.
  • Fizz-buzz. This is the number game where you count up from 1, saying Fizz for multiples of five or numbers with five in, and Buzz with multiples of seven or numbers with a seven in them. Best with beginners and low intermediates.
  • Aural anagrams. Read out anagrams to the class. They may be based on a particular topic. Points for the individual or team which guesses the word first. Pupils may write down the letters or just keep them in their heads. Good for any level.
  • "Just a minute". Pupils work in small groups. Individuals try to talk for a minute without hesitating (i.e. drying up), repeating or deviating from the topic. Best for good intermediates and advanced. You can give easy topics to intermediates and harder ones to advanced level students. This can be great preparation for an oral exam.
  • Strip bingo. Give a topic. Pupils write a list of words down a strip of paper. Each time you say a word at either end of their list they must tear it off. The winner is the person who has no words left. Note that the teacher must say words more than once and keep an eye on the progress of pupils. Best with beginners or intermediates.


  1. I used to do word scrambles, and it was hard to do off the top of my head. Wouldn't anagrams be hard to come up with on the fly for the uninitiated? Otherwise I love these--would even like to try anagrams, if I could figure 'em out. PS, strip bingo was SO not what I thought it was gonna be! :p

  2. Anagrams are easy. Teacher just notes down a word, the picks out letters to read aloud (ticking them off as you go). Meanwhile pupils try to figure out the word. It's good for letter and vocabulary recognition with near beginners.

  3. I like Voila-Presque-Pasdutout.
    I start by thinking of a number and writing the number of spaces on the board: ____ _____ ____
    (My number is 548) They guess 145,
    I answer: Pas du tout, voila, presque because the first one isn't there at all, the second is fine, and the third is in there, but in a different position.
    They guess 543; I answer voila-voila-pas du tout. And so on until there's a winner. Good practice for big numbers and listening.

  4. I like that idea, Deborah. Thanks for posting it.

  5. Word tennis done in pairs is another good one. Could be on theme of lesson or any area of vocab or verb tennis with more advanced group using tenses.

  6. Yes. I have a post on this blog about tennis conversations. Thanks for leaving a comment.