Published 19th April 2016


We all know that sinking feeling when we realise we still have five more minutes before before the end of the class and our activity has just finished, or that moment when we realise we don’t have enough time to start the next activity which means we still have five minutes to kill before the break. Often it can be enough to have a general chat about homework or the weekend or anything, but sometimes those five minutes can seem to drag on for an eternity.

So here are five activities which shouldn’t take you longer than five minutes and which you can use as stand-alone activities for those times when you need them most.

News of the day

Give each student a minute to think and then each student must tell the class about one thing that has recently happened in the news. It can be local news or news from their country or city or international news and on any topic.


This can be done in teams or individually. Draw on the board the categories of Place, Person, Food, Occupation, Adjective – or whatever categories you choose. Randomly choose a letter and the students must race to find a word for each category beginning with that letter.

For example: Romania, Richard Gere, Rice, Rugby player, Red.

Numbers in my life

Each student must write down five numbers that relate to their life in some way, but without explaining what the significance is. In pairs or groups the other students must guess what they mean. Encourage your students to be creative.

For example:      1 = I have 1 child

3 = I have had 3 cups of coffee today

4 = I have been learning English for 4 months

9 = what time I will go to bed tonight

If I wasn’t here

Go around the class and each student must say what they would be doing and where they would be if they weren’t in class that day.

For example:     If I wasn’t here I’d still be in bed.

If I wasn’t here I’d be reading my book on the beach.

If I wasn’t here I wouldn’t be speaking English.

20 Questions

Think of a person, place or an object. The students must ask you questions to figure out what the object is, but the questions can only be yes/no questions. If they do not know what it is after 20 questions you can think of something else. If someone correctly guesses the object, they have a turn to think of something.

So the next time you find yourself treading water while you are watching the clock, try one of these activities and let those five minutes be productive instead of wasted time.