Backup Activities

Having backup activities can be a real lifesaver in the classroom. As a newer teacher, it was always a great fear to have time left over in a lesson. I had begun teaching a brand new class of students with no previous English experience in the summer.

Teaching in TaiwanThe first couple lessons were very basic, and it turns out there is only so long and so many ways to teach a group of older students the alphabet before they get a little restless. At the same time, I had a group of very young students who had little interest in learning anything at all. Or the time I had only two students who were considered ‘handfuls’.

What do you do if one student finishes an assignment before the rest? What do you do if you run out of things your lesson plan tells you to finish? What do you do if the students lose interest entirely?

I had a box or a folder that was full of different items I liked to call my ‘fallback folder’. Here are some ideas to create your own!

Vocabulary Flashcards

Whether your school provides flashcards or not, you can always print off pictures and quiz the children on their vocabulary. There are so many ESL games to be played with vocabulary cards as well—put the on the board for races or throwing games, put them on the floor for stomping, or speed through them for the lightning round. They are useful for phonics and spelling as well! Ask the students to silently spell the vocabulary words in teams, ask them what part of speech they are, ask them what vowels they hear and whether they are short or long. The possibilities are endless!

They are useful for phonics and spelling as well! Ask the students to silently spell the vocabulary words in teams, ask them what part of speech they are, ask them what vowels they hear and whether they are short or long. The possibilities are endless!

Music

There are plenty of songs for every occasion and class ability. Print off some lyrics and teach the kids a new song! Some of our books had accompanying CD’s with fun sing-along songs with them but they get pretty tiring quickly.

It’s always fun to supplement a lesson with a new song, a traditional song, a modern song, a classic, or holiday jingle. I’ve heard plenty of people tell me they learned their new language by listening to music or watching a certain show—let the kids listen to music as they work on their assignment!

Dice

There are always games you can play with dice. You can simply play an adding game to review numbers. Dice give games another element to think about—you can supplement games on the board with numbers, you can allow the students to roll for points or categories, or you can roll the dice yourself to determine teams or student turns.

You can also put some playing cards in your box for the same effect—students love learning and playing card games!

Word Searches/Coloring Sheets

If students finish their work early and correctly, I would allow them to do something fun! Pick out some word searches or coloring sheets with stories and characters on them for the students to relax a little while still using their creativity and smarts! If there is a lot of time left and all the students did well on their assignment, I would quiz them all with fun brain teasers or riddles—they wouldn’t leave class before they knew the answer!

There are plenty of ideas and games to supplement your class if there is a little bit of time left. Along with those ideas, my fallback folder saved the day many times! Hopefully, these ideas can help you create a fallback folder of your own!

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