5 minute games to play in class?
September 4, 2011 7:29 PM   Subscribe

What are some great 5 minute long games to play with students at the middle school level?

Often times lessons will end a few minutes before the bell, or another teacher will ask for me to wait a few extra minutes before changing classes. I can go over the notes from class, but I'd love to have some great 5 minute long types of games to play with the students (12 to 14 years old).


1. Preferably no extra material is needed
2. Fun enough that we could play it once a week
3. Can end quickly if need be
4. Super fast start time (like 15 seconds)

Charades and all those variants are usually better in the 10 to 15 minute or longer category.

posted by fantasticninety to Education (20 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: 2-minute mysteries? They're not all middle-school appropriate and it's hard to predict how long they'll take, but you can find some good ones. The idea is you as them basically a riddle, and they can ask yes-or-no questions to try to figure out what happened. Here's a list of some. They're also called lateral thinking puzzles, googling will come up with many many more.
posted by brainmouse at 7:34 PM on September 4, 2011

Best answer: I don't know if it would sound interesting to your students, but you can't go wrong with 20 Questions. It's fast, everyone knows the rules, there's a clear goal, and people of varying deductive skills can engage with it.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:35 PM on September 4, 2011

(And if you feel it's too long, make it 10 and give them a couple of hints up front.)
posted by Mikey-San at 7:35 PM on September 4, 2011

"Death By" was a fun one we used to do in drama class.

Pick a category of things (animals, colors, breakfast cereals, etc), then go around the room and have everyone add to the list of things alphabetically (e.g. alligator, baboon, camel...). If the kid says "uhh," "umm," or otherwise hesitates before blurting out his answer, that kid has to silently act out a "death by" of your choosing. Sounds a little morbid, but it should be something silly (like "death by homework" or "death by goldfish"), never anything like death by a weapon. The resulting play is generally pretty hilarious (depending on how much the kid gets into it).

The game is meant to be quick-paced, and you can definitely get through a round in 5 minutes.
posted by phunniemee at 7:41 PM on September 4, 2011

Best answer: Ever heard of "Who is missing?" - This one was big when I was a kid.

Basically, you pick one student to be "it". With that student facing the wall/out in the hallway/whatever - quietly choose a student to hide and have the rest of them change desks. After that, bring in the student that was "it" and try to have them guess which student is missing.

Another game that I played in school a lot had no name, but it was simple. You pick five students and show them a small object. Have them face the wall/whatever and hide it. After hiding it, its their job to find it.

There's a good list of games here as well.
posted by HermanoBluth at 7:45 PM on September 4, 2011

Hangman, but not with dictionary words. Perhaps films, books, or something from the day's lesson?
posted by vidur at 8:06 PM on September 4, 2011

have you ever played apples to apples? I feel like there should be a way to make that work for middle school. Maybe you have the kids make the cards at the beginning of the year, and then pass them out each day/week?
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:10 PM on September 4, 2011

My students really loved silent ball. Basically you get everyone to mill about the room, and then we play a "hot potato" sort of game with a small ball/squeeze toy. You can't talk, laugh, or make any sort of noise, or you're out. Drop the ball or make an uncatchable throw is also out.

It's not exactly a great piece of educational exercise, but I generally teach students a bit younger than 12-14, and this works on non-verbal cuing as well motor skills.

We also did 20 questions, which they liked, but not as much. Finally we did the game where you say a city/province/country and the next person has to quickly find another place starting with the last letter of the previous place. (Eg., Winnipeg - Georgia - Andora)
posted by iftheaccidentwill at 8:30 PM on September 4, 2011

Heads Up 7up!
posted by radioamy at 9:04 PM on September 4, 2011

We do Silent Ball too -- it's great. For added hilarity in some classes I used to let them stand on the chairs, then sit when they were out. They wobble more that way and it's harder not to laugh.

Wink murder is fun too -- choose one student to be the detective and send them out of the room, then choose a murderer. When the detective comes back and rejoins the class (sitting in a circle), the murderer starts sneakily winking at random students, who then "die" dramatically. The detective has to figure out who is doing the winking.

A less morbid one is a rhythm-based one -- same idea with a detective but instead of a murderer, everyone plays a simple beat (knees-clap, knees-clap) and the chosen student surreptitiously changes the beat or the action (eg change to fingersnap-clap-knees). Everyone has to follow their lead and the detective has to work out who is changing the beat.
posted by tracicle at 2:05 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oooh, another funny one: it's called "I love you honey". One student sits up the front. One at a time students come up and say to them, "I love you honey, won't you please smile?" and the main person replies, "I love you honey, but I just can't smile." The idea is to put on your silliest voice or make your craziest face to make that person smile -- if they do, the asker becomes the main person.
posted by tracicle at 2:09 AM on September 5, 2011

Fruit salad: everyone sits in a circle in chairs and is allocated a fruit name. There should be two of each fruit, roughly opposite each other. One person stands in the middle and calls out fruit names, one by one. If you're an apple, and the person in the middle calls 'apples!', you have to get up and switch chairs with the other apple before the person in the middle takes their chair. Whoever's left standing becomes the new person in the middle. And at some point, the person in the middle can call 'fruit salad!' and mad seat-grabbing ensues.
posted by lovedbymarylane at 6:24 AM on September 5, 2011

This happens to me every couple of days and I usually do Shout Outs. I announce that we have time for three or four shout outs, then choose three or four students that gave raised their hands. Those students stand up and give positive feedback to one or more of their classmates.

"I have a Shout Out for Kara because she finished a book today" or "I have a shout out for everyone for working really hard today" are examples of what we generally get.

Kids love the positive reinforcement from their peers and it ends the class on a high.
posted by brynna at 7:16 AM on September 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Play Detroit To Tokyo, but with vocabulary from your topic (or recent lessons, or whatever word set you want to use): in this game each player suggests a word that starts with the last letter of the previous answer.

So Detroit to Tokyo to Omaha to Alaska...or for American History, Yorktown to New Deal to Lincoln's assassination to No Child Left Behind...
posted by wenestvedt at 7:26 AM on September 5, 2011

When I taught middle school math, I got a list of short-answer questions that were likely to be on the standardized test, then used that last few minutes to call out questions and let the answerers get their stuff and start lining up at the door so they were the first ones out when the bell rang.
posted by CathyG at 8:02 AM on September 5, 2011

I have used a ball of paper as a quiz game, ask a vocal or quiz question related to what you are working on then toss to someone to answer. The kid answers and then asks a new question before tossing to someone new.
posted by Jayed at 8:11 AM on September 5, 2011

Best answer: A fun reinforcement game is to have the kids play "Quiz the Teacher" by going through their notes and asking you questions.

Trivial Pursuit questions are always fun.
posted by kinetic at 6:37 PM on September 5, 2011

Splat! I've played this with kids ranging in age from 4-14 and my goodness they love it.

All the kids stand in a circle. One kid goes in the middle: he is the Splatter.
The Splatter is always right; nobody can argue with the Splatter.

The Splatter throws an imaginary pie at any kid in the circle and says "splat!"
This gesture should sort of look like a high-five.
The Splatter can be slightly tricky about this (turning suddenly so it's unexpected, etc).

The kid who had the pie thrown at her immediately ducks (so the pie doesn't hit her). She doesn't say anything.
The two kids on either side of that kid must immediately turn towards each other and throw imaginary pies at each other (over the head of the kid who ducked). They must both say "splat!"
These two reactions (the ducking and the side-splatters' splatting) must be as fast and simultaneous as possible.

If one of the reactors was slow or made a mistake, then the splatter points at that kid and nicely says "sorry, you're out!"
You can make up funny nicknames for the mistakes to make the kids laugh. For instance if the wrong kid splats, that's a mistake and you can gently tease them and call them a "happy splatter". If a side-splatter forgets to say splat, they're a "silent splatter". or the ducker doesn't duck, they're a "sleepy splattee", or the ducker says splat, "splatty ducker!" Make it funny so they all giggle.
No arguing with the splatter, the splatter is always right.
Not every turn must end with someone going out- if all three reactors are perfect, they can all stay in.

If you're out, you leave the circle and watch from behind.
Do not rearrange the circle- leave awkward gaps in it. This makes it harder because suddenly the side-splatter might not be directly beside the kid who ducks. But the side-splatter must still be the kid "beside" the ducker. As more people leave the circle, this might mean the side-splatters are very far away from the ducker, although still technically "beside" them. It's tricky!

Continue splatting til only two kids are left.
Now those two kids must stand back to back.
Ask all the kids to choose a secret word. Say it's "kangaroo".
The Splatter begins to tell a made-up story. As the story continues, the last two kids slowly walk away from each other, facing back to back. They're listening for the secret word.
The Splatter can be tricky and put in words that sound like the secret word... "Once upon a time Johnny went to the zoo and he saw a KKK....koala! And a KKK...cat! And a KKK...Kangaroo!"

When the Splatter finally says the secret word, the two last kids must immediately spin back to each other and Splat each other!
Whoever is faster wins the game!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:55 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Kids love the positive reinforcement from their peers and it ends the class on a high.

Counterpoint: this sounds like a nightmare to me now and would have been even more unspeakably humiliating (regardless of weather I was the shout-outer or the shout-outee) in middle school.
posted by Rinku at 10:10 PM on September 5, 2011

Response by poster: Some excellent ideas here, all of them. I selected as "best answer" the ones that I'll be trying first. However, there really is no hierarchy and I wish to thank everyone for contributing. I feel there's already enough variety here to last me the year...and make class just a little less boring for the students with those few minutes remaining :)

posted by fantasticninety at 1:58 AM on September 6, 2011

« Older Down at heel   |   Denver CPA Needed Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.