Tips from the Field: Sponge Activities
- Published: Tuesday, 05 April 2016 10:36
A sponge activity is something that teachers give students to work on as they come in the room or to keep the students busy while the teacher takes care of necessary business, like taking attendance, getting the lunch count, or collecting notes and homework. They can also be used when students are waiting on line. Sponge activities have the dual role of not just increasing instructional time (minutes add up-topic for a future post), but also keeping students engaged and behaving well.
Here are some suggestions of sponge activities developed by teachers and shared with our school improvement specialists:
A Sound Idea
Make a tape of sounds from the environment on your phone. Have one with crickets chirping, cell phones ringing, water running, a thunderstorm, a kitty mewing. When the tape is played the students are asked to identify what the noise is. Keep a numbered list for your own reference so you don’t forget what’s on it. The younger children especially like this activity.
A transition activity I have useful in both 2nd & 4th grades is Silent Math. During the times your entire class is lined up and waiting, have one child start by using fingers and hand signals to give math problems. (Example: Hold up one finger (1), then make a plus sign (+), then two fingers (1+2). Lastly, put one hand above the other facing in opposite directions for the equal sign(=).) If a student wants to answer, he/she must raise their hand to be called on. They must give the answer using fingers and hand signals. The kids love it and it keeps the noise level down!
What Is It?
Put something in an opaque bag. Let students feel the objects without looking at it. After everyone has had a chance to think about what the object might be, list his or her guesses on the board. In order to eliminate certain guesses, have students list the properties of the object that they were able to ascertain from touching it. Narrow the choices down to those that fit with the descriptions
Pick a topic such as An Object in the Room, A Famous Person, An Animal, etc. One student must think of something in that category without telling the rest of the class. Everyone else must guess what the object is by asking Yes or No questions. The student that picked the object must ONLY answer Yes or No to the questions asked. The class has twenty guesses.
A Hoarse Horse:
(For a group in line, have them just tell 2 homonyms and what they are.
Line up Codes
Ask the children to get in line by alphabetical order. You could go from A - Z or try Z -A for a change. (Have children place themselves in alphabetical order by first or last names.