How to fill that extra 5-15 minutes at the end of class



We’ve all been there:

“That lesson didn’t take as long as I thought!”

“I ran out of time last class but now I have 12 more minutes in this class! What the heck??!!”

It’s Thursday afternoon and the clock is ticking by so slowly, yet ironically, your lesson ended way too soon. When you taught this same lesson last period, it worked out perfectly.

Don’t you hate it when that happens?

And of course, it’s your crazy class and now you’ve got 12 minutes to go.

Dang it! You were going to have that review game copied but the old-fart copy machine was jamming again and so you really don’t have anything just right there ready to use.

12 minutes is long time, especially with this class, know what I mean?

Yes, you’re supposed to have a plethora of extension activities ready to go, but that’s just not always the case. There won’t always be one more thing to give the kids if or when they all finish something early, and you won’t always have those extra copies made ahead of time or that game ready to use just yet.

What to do, what to do… Have I got a solution for you!

Use my two links here…


Pinterest: Images for Thinking and Writing 


Pinterest: Quotes for Thinking and Writing


…to get the most out of those extra minutes of class time that you don’t know what to do with. 

Here’s how it works (i.e. How it totally saves your sanity!) —

  1. Say to your class, “I’m so excited we finished early today! Hey, I’m going to show you something really cool and get your opinion on it! My other class didn’t get to do this, so are you ready?”

  2. Head over to your computer. Say to the kids, “Ok, so give me a sec to bring this up… It’s online and I just need to get it up on the screen for you. Stay quiet for me so I have time to show you this!”                                         

  3. And then go to either this link: to show really cool-looking quotes that are great for kids to discuss, or go to this link for amazing images (totally school-appropriate, just great for discussion):

  4. When I do this, I literally show my class the whole thing and just scroll down until the kids start telling me “Stop on that one!” Then I click on the image or the quote and we start talking about it.

  5. Whether it’s an image or a quote, you can use these questions to prompt the discussion if the “flow” is off a little with your kids:

  • What do you notice about the colors being used?

  • How do you think the author or artist came up with this?

  • What is the overall message that image or quote is trying to convey? (impromptu theme and author’s purpose mini-lesson!)

  • How does this relate to us today?

  • What is the mood of the quote/image? (impromptu mini-lesson on mood!)

Depending on your students—and every class is different with its own dynamic—you could spend those last 12 minutes on one image or quote, or you could end up going through a bunch of them.

If you had a pretty good discussion and you feel like it, you could even have the kids pull out some scratch paper and copy the quote followed by a personal written response to it after you’ve discussed it.

If it’s an image, do this after a class discussion: have them describe in writing what they’re seeing in their own words and then make a list of adjectives (woah— adjective mini-lesson!) that conveys the mood of the image (mood—another little mini-lesson!).

That could make for a nice way to end class without just giving up and praying for the bell to ring! 

These links are perfect to refer to when it’s too late to start a new topic or concept, and plus you don’t want one class to end up ahead of another class because that’s just a planning nightmare sometimes. 



Either way, this easy little no-prep activity is a great way to keep the class going even when you’ve finished your planned lesson for the day and you have nothing really left to do. 

I mean, the worst thing you can do is try to get a set of papers graded while the kids go crazy… And you know that’s just about the time the principal or some visitor from central admin will decide to stop by to check that you have your objective posted for the day. 

Try it out, let me know what you think, and keep those links handy because I’m always adding to those two boards and you’re welcome to follow me there and use it to help you and your students, too!

One more thing, though… If you find that more often than not only SOME kids are finishing early while a lot of others still really do need more time, I have a solution for that as well. Check out this blog post about what I do with my kids who finish early while others still need to work. It’s one thing to simply say “read your library book until everyone else finishes,” but that’s not always feasible. So for a plan that solves the whole “What do I do when I’m done” fiasco, read this and sign up for the free activity that goes with it! 

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