Purposeful Time Fillers

Purposeful Time Fillers

As a supply teacher, it is always handy to have a few extra activities up your sleeve just in case a lesson runs short. Having a few fun but purposeful activities which help consolidate children’s literacy or numeracy skills, or promote discussion, is a practical way to use additional time. If you ever find yourself with time to spare, here are some activities you could try with your classes.


The Money Word Challenge – Even though it is a word challenge, this activity will test your pupils’ maths skills as well as their spelling. On the whiteboard, quickly assign each letter of the alphabet a value; for example, A = £12, B = £3, C = £21 and so on. Set a few questions on the board such as, ‘What’s the most expensive word you can make?’, ‘Can you find a word that equals £42?’ and ‘How much is the word ‘league’ worth?’, and see what they come up with.  

Sell it – Choose an object from the class and in small groups children should come up with as many uses for that object as they can. The more absurd, the better! Children may want to note their ideas down on a scrap piece of paper or a mini-whiteboard before presenting them to the class. Encourage them to use descriptive and persuasive language; an example would be something like, “This fantastic, soft-haired paintbrush has over 100 uses! Not only can this be used for your artistic endeavours - but its durable bristles could also be used to dust your antique ornaments and are still gentle enough to brush your pet hamster.”

Who am I? – This common, family party game is a perfect class activity. It can be played in different ways depending on the subject or topic you’re teaching. Select a volunteer from the class to come to the front and be the guesser. Jot down something on a post-it note linked to your lesson, such as a number or a literary device, and stick it on the guesser’s forehead. It is then over to the rest of the class to lead them to guess “who they are” by answering their questions (yes or no answers only).

Online smartboard activities – no login required

Hit the Button

Children love to get competitive with this maths activity. Hit the Button offers timed maths games linked to times tables, number bonds, and square numbers. Depending on the classroom setup, children could come up to the smartboard and select the answers themselves, or divide the class in half and you select the answers while each team battles it out to hit as many correct answers as they can within the time limit.

Watch Newsround

This is a great activity for pupils across all key stages. Current issues are usually presented in a balanced way and is easy to digest for children and teenagers. The main broadcast lasts around 6-8 minutes and usually includes some interesting, light-hearted news towards the end. Allow some time afterwards for pupils to raise any questions and to discuss whichever topics pique their interest.


Aimed at primary school children, Arcademics hosts a range of maths games and useful spelling and grammar games. Just like with Hit the Button, these games are fun to play as a whole class and offer a selection of maths and literacy focuses.


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