10 Fun Time Fillers For Substitute Teachers

Picture this: you step into a classroom, ready to guide and inspire young minds. But what happens when unexpected gaps of time appear, like sneaky puzzle pieces missing from the grand picture? Fear not, for time fillers are here to save the day!

Time fillers are the secret ingredients that transform moments of idle restlessness into bursts of laughter, learning, and excitement. As you organize quick-witted discussions, brain-teasing puzzles, or captivating storytelling sessions, you’ll witness the classroom transform into a hub of creativity and collaboration. These moments of unexpected time become opportunities for meaningful connections, where curiosity flourishes, and students eagerly delve into new realms of discovery.

So, in order to foster an engaging and productive learning environment, summarized below are a few interactive time fillers that are not only fun but educational that can transform even the smallest pockets of time into endless possibilities.

Making the most of the classroom time: Creative time fillers For substitute teachers 

1. Word Search

Word search puzzles allow students to involve in an activity that is not only educational but also relaxing and entertaining. For this activity, teachers need to prepare word search puzzles related to the subject matter, so that students stay in line with their learning without wasting time and compromising on the fun factor.

Word Search


  • Hand out the word search puzzles and pencils to each student or pair of students.
  • Explain that they need to search for words horizontally, vertically, or diagonally within the grid.
  • Encourage students to circle or highlight the words as they find them.
  • Set a time limit or allow students to work at their own pace.
  • Afterward, go over the answers together and discuss the meanings of the words found.

2. Guess Who?

Riddles or puzzling questions can set the tone of the classroom by engaging the students in critical thinking and problem-solving. This activity is all about figuring out the identity of any object or a famous person, whether from history or the present. It can be related to the concept being taught by framing questions surrounding that topic. Let’s get started!

 Guess Who?


  • Choose a famous person or anything related and write down clues about their identity. Include information about appearance, function, importance, or usage in the case of an object and if you’re choosing a famous person then you can include information about their achievements, historical significance, or appearance.
  • Begin by giving the first clue to the students.
  • Encourage students to ask yes or no questions to help narrow down the possibilities.
  • Provide additional clues as needed and guide the discussion.
  • The first student to correctly guess the person wins, or you can play until the entire class figures it out.

3. Mad Libs

This activity will let students exercise their unique storytelling abilities along with imaginative power. Prepare a story with missing words and students need to fill in the blanks with nouns, verbs, and adjectives to create a funny and unique story. Let’s see how creative they can get!

Mad Libs


  • Hand out the Mad Libs worksheet or create one on the board with blank spaces for different parts of speech.
  • Explain the different parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives) if necessary.
  • Have students take turns providing words to fill in the blanks, going one by one, or filling them in all at once.
  • Once all the blanks are filled, read the completed story aloud as a class and enjoy the hilarious results.

4. Fun Facts

Did you know that learning can be both fun and informative? This activity is all about sharing interesting and educational facts related to the subject. Start by sharing a fascinating fact, and encourage students to contribute their own fun facts. Let’s uncover some surprising knowledge together!

 Fun Facts


  • Begin by sharing an intriguing fact related to the subject or a specific topic.
  • Encourage students to raise their hands and share their own fun facts.
  • Acknowledge each student’s contribution and ask follow-up questions to deepen the discussion.
  • If time permits, you can turn it into a game by awarding points for the most surprising or thought-provoking facts.

5. Would You Rather?

Get ready to make some tough choices! This activity called ‘Would You Rather?’, presents a series of challenging questions to students for which students need to decide which option they would rather choose and explain their reasoning. Let’s dive into the world of dilemmas!

Would You Rather?


  • Pose a “Would You Rather? questions to the class, such as “Would you rather be able to fly or become invisible?”
  • Give students a moment to think and formulate their responses.
  • Ask for volunteers to share their answers and provide a brief explanation for their choice.
  • Encourage respectful discussions and allow other students to express alternative viewpoints.
  • Continue with a few more questions, ensuring that everyone gets a chance to participate and share their thoughts.

6. Collaborative Art Project

This activity will allow students to showcase their creativity and teamwork. They will be working together to create collaborative artwork. Each student will be given a small portion of a larger poster or mural to complete. When put all the pieces together, it will create a beautiful masterpiece!

Collaborative Art Project


  • Provide each student with art supplies such as markers, colored pencils, crayons, or paint, depending on the materials available.
  • Explain the theme or subject of the artwork. It could be something related to what the students have been studying or a topic of their choice.
  • Divide the larger poster or mural into smaller sections and assign one section to each student. Make sure the sections are approximately equal in size.
  • Let the students express their creativity and imagination within their assigned section. They can use various colors, shapes, and patterns to bring their portion to life.
  • Once everyone has completed their section, carefully assemble the individual pieces to create the collaborative artwork. Display it in the classroom or a common area for everyone to admire.

7. Brain Teasers

Brain teasers are fun puzzles that require critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They will get your brain working and provide a great opportunity to exercise your creativity and logical reasoning.

Brain Teasers


  • Prepare a collection of age-appropriate brain teasers, riddles, or logic puzzles. You can find them online or use books specifically designed for this purpose.
  • Hand out the brain teasers to each student or group. Make sure they have enough space to write their answers or solutions.
  • Specify a time limit for solving the brain teasers. It could be 10-15 minutes or as per your preference. 
  • Once the time is up, gather the students together and go over the brain teasers one by one. Ask for volunteers to share their answers or solutions, and encourage explanations for how they arrived at their conclusions. Discuss alternative approaches and highlight the most effective strategies.
  • Optional: Keep score or offer rewards: If desired, you can turn the brain teasers into a friendly competition by keeping score or offering small rewards for the individuals or groups that solve the most brain teasers correctly. However, ensure the focus remains on the learning experience rather than solely on winning.

8. Pictionary

Pictionary is a game that combines drawing and guessing. It’s a great way to test your creativity, communication skills, and teamwork. In this game, you will have the chance to showcase your artistic talents while your teammates try to guess what you’re drawing. Let’s get ready to have some fun!



  • Split the class into teams of three or four students. Ensure each team has a designated space to gather and discuss their guesses.
  • Prepare a list of words or phrases related to the subject you’re teaching. It could be vocabulary words, concepts, or topics covered in class. Select one word or phrase to start the game.
  • Have one student from each team come to the front as the designated drawer for the round. You can rotate the role of the drawer for each round to involve everyone.
  • Whisper or show the chosen word or phrase to the drawer from each team. Make sure the other team members do not see it.
  • Give the drawers a set time, such as one minute, to draw the word or phrase on the board without using any letters, numbers, or symbols.
  • As the drawer is drawing, the other team members must discuss and try to guess what the drawing represents. They can shout out their guesses or write them down.
  • If a team correctly guesses the word or phrase before the time runs out, they earn a point. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
  • Rotate the roles, allowing a new student from each team to become the drawer for the next round. Continue playing until you’ve exhausted the word list or until the allocated time for the activity is over.

9. DIY Flashcard Activity

DIY activities are a fantastic way to learn and understand concepts through hands-on exploration. In this activity, students will work in small groups to conduct a simple flashcard activity using materials readily available in the classroom. 

DIY Flashcard Activity


  • Provide a clear and concise explanation of the process of making DIY flashcards to students, including its purpose, materials needed, and the steps involved. 
  • Divide the class into small groups of three to five students. Each group will work together to make & design their flashcards.
  • Provide each group with the necessary materials. 
  • Instruct the groups to select the topic of their own choice and make the flashcards accordingly. Encourage them to make the flashcards in such a way that they can be used by the class afterward to review the particular concept.
  • Once the groups are done with their task, gather the class together for a discussion about the topic they chose, what keywords they’ve written on the flashcards, etc. Encourage them to use these flashcards with each other and see their effectiveness in memorization.

10. Story Starters

Stories have the power to transport us to different worlds, inspire our imagination, and let our creativity soar. In this activity, the teacher will provide the beginning of a story or a sentence prompt, and students have the opportunity to continue the story in their own unique way. Let’s dive into the realm of storytelling!

Story Starters


  • Begin by providing the class with the story starter or sentence prompt. You can write it on the board, display it on a slide, or distribute it on worksheets or handouts.
  • Encourage the students to relax, let their imaginations run wild, and think outside the box. Remind them that there are no right or wrong answers—this activity is all about unleashing their creativity and storytelling abilities.
  • Give students enough time to continue the story or complete the sentence. Depending on the complexity of the prompt and the age of the students, this can range from a few minutes to a longer period.
  • Invite volunteers to share their responses. Encourage students to read their stories aloud or present their completed sentences. Create a supportive and positive environment where everyone’s contributions are valued.
  • Encourage students to ask questions and provide constructive feedback to each other.

Effective time filler strategies for substitute teachers

As a substitute teacher, it is essential to have a toolkit of a variety of time fillers for keeping students engaged and productive. Given below are some effective strategies for time fillers that substitute teachers can use:

  • Be prepared: Always have a backup plan and carry extra activities or materials in case there is extra time to fill.
  • Know the schedule: Familiarize yourself with the daily schedule and be aware of any breaks or transition periods where time fillers may be needed.
  • Use transition activities: Plan short transition activities, such as a quick review or a brain teaser, to smoothly transition between lessons or activities.
  • Keep it educational: Choose time fillers that are both entertaining and educational, ensuring that they align with the subject or learning goals.
  • Encourage creativity: Incorporate activities that encourage creativity, such as drawing, storytelling, or role-playing, to keep students engaged and thinking outside the box.
  • Incorporate movement: Include movement breaks, such as a quick physical activity or a game of Simon Says, to energize students during breaks.
  • Use technology wisely: Utilize educational apps, online quizzes, or interactive websites as time fillers to engage students and enhance learning.
  • Foster teamwork: Implement group activities or games that promote teamwork and collaboration, encouraging students to work together towards a common goal.
  • Offer choices: Provide students with a few options for time fillers, allowing them to choose activities that align with their interests or learning preferences.
  • Reflect and adjust: Reflect on the effectiveness of different time fillers and adjust them based on student feedback and engagement levels. Keep a record of successful activities for future use.


In conclusion, time fillers are invaluable tools for substitute teachers to effectively manage classroom time and keep students engaged. By employing a range of strategies and activities, you can transform moments of downtime into opportunities for learning, creativity, and fun.

Remember to be prepared with a variety of age-appropriate activities and resources that align with the subject matter. Time fillers not only help fill the gaps but also foster meaningful connections, critical thinking skills, and a love for lifelong learning.

So, embrace the power of time fillers, be flexible, and make the most of every moment in the classroom. Your ability to engage and captivate students during unplanned downtime will leave a lasting impression and contribute to their overall educational experience.

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