More Sponge Activities for the Classroom

See previous post for description of what sponge activities are and how they can be used to enhance learning in the classroom.

  • Choose a category such as food, movies, or places, and challenge students to think of one for each letter of the alphabet.
  • Select a category such as famous people. Have one student say the name. The next student must name another famous person whose first name begins with the last letter of that person’s name. (for example, George Bush, Harriet Tubman, Nancy Reagan).
  • Ask students a number of questions such as: Is there anyone whose phone number digits add up to 30? Or Whose birthday is closest to the date when man first walked on the moon (or any other date you have been studying)? Or If you add the ages of everyone in your family, who has the highest number? Who has the lowest?
  • Create a spelling chain. All students stand. Give them a spelling word. The first person says the first letter, the second gives the second letter, and so on. If a student gives the wrong letter, he or she must sit down.
  • Play “guess the characteristic.” Ask several students who all have something in common to stand. The class, including the students, must guess what they all have in common, such as they all have shoes with no laces, they all walk to school, or they are all in band.
  • Do a daily edit to start or fill small spaces of time. These become writing skill mini-lessons. Lift an incorrect sentence directly from students’ writing or create one including errors that students are commonly making. You may wish to focus on one skill at a time. Print the incorrect sentence(s) on the board or overhead. Have students edit the sentence and write it correctly in a section of their journals or a special notebook that can be used for reference. Follow up at some time during the day with a class discussion so the students can finalize their corrections and see that there may be more than one way to solve a writing problem.
  • An especially effective daily edit that promotes more interesting writing is Expand a Sentence. Give students a very simple sentence (e.g., The child ran.). Include insert marks where you want students to add words and underline words that they may change to something more exciting. Model an expansion for students the first time you do this activity. The new sentence may become: The very excited young lady raced wildly down the street with her red braids flying straight out behind.
  • Keep a supply of board and table games that require strategy and thinking. Use them for special fill-in times like rainy day recess. Good examples are Scrabble®, Monopoly®, Boggle®, and Chutes and Ladders®.
  • Collect word searches, crossword puzzles, kids’ pages from Sunday comics, and Mad Libs. Laminate them for wipe-off and reuse.
  • Save about-to-be discarded paper with at lease one blank side (computer printouts, old dittos, faded construction paper, etc.). Use for free-drawing time. Also encourage students to free-write; many of them also improve creativity and expertise in drawing with practice.
  • Derive many words from one. Copy on the blackboard a multi-syllabic word taken from a theme or topic of the day. Ask students to write as many words from this as they can in a specified time. Only letters from the original word may be used. This activity can be done in small groups or individually.
  • Set up a magnetic board center for sponge activities. Divide the board into “yes” and “no” columns. Prepare a magnetic name tag for each student by gluing tagboard squares with the student’s name onto a piece of magnetic strip (available at fabric or sign stores). On the board pose daily questions which involve either a yes or no answer. Have students place their magnetic name tags in the appropriate column. Discuss responses.
  • Read a short story, poem, essay, news article, talk to the class. Have students write a short first impression of it. Compare student responses.
  • Play “Three-in-a-Row.” Make game boards from 81/2″ x 11″ (22 cm x 28 cm) pieces of tagboard, cardboard, or index paper. Divide each game into nine equal squares. Provide X and O cards (five of each) for each game board. (Be sure the cards fit into the squares.) Two students use one game board; one using X cards and the other using O cards. Use this game for reinforcement or review. When a student responds correctly to a problem or activity, he/she places a card in the squares. If incorrect, the player loses a turn. The first player to achieve three in a row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally is the winner.
  • Incorporate a “Brainteaser Time” into your day. Choose from a selection of brainteaser activities or have students make up some of their own. These can be presented to the class as part of your daily sponge activities.

Know a sponge activity that works great in the classroom? Help add to this list by sharing your sponge activities in our comment roll!

Sponge Activities

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. Sponge activities are also useful during transition periods while the teacher needs to reteach several students or to nudge someone into finishing. They are the activities or assignments that are made to “soak up” those wasted minutes when students may otherwise get out of control.

Sponge activities can be used to refocus students on something they have previously learned. For example, “Use your textbooks to write down the names of the three explorers that we talked about yesterday and when they explored.

Or they might be something like a puzzle, question, or a problem to solve that is used to challenge students and keep them busy while the teacher takes care of his/her required paper work. You might challenge your class to a question a day like, “Why is the sky blue?” It gives students a chance to make suppositions about something they will (or may) study later.

Good sponge activities give students an opportunity to review, talk, or write about something they have learned. Sponges are best if they can be posted for the students to read when they are ready to complete the activity.

Super Sponge Activities

  1. Play 5 x 5. This is easily accomplished by making a grid of 25 squares. Choose five categories. Place one at the top of each box. Then randomly choose five letters and place one on each box down the side. Have students call out words that fit each category. This is really handy when working with a theme that you wish to review.
  2. Charades is a fun sponge, especially to use as a review. Use spelling or vocabulary words, titles of books by authors the class has studied, or activities going on in school. Put these on slips of paper and place in a container. Let individuals or groups of students choose one and act it out.
  3. Read aloud to your class! Keep some funny, short stories or a book of limericks available for a quick read.
  4. Play “baseball.” Choose a skill that needs to be reviewed. Draw a baseball diamond on the board. Choose a scorekeeper. Divide the class into two teams. Determine which team is up first. Ask each player a review question. If the player answers correctly, have him or her run the bases by marking the diamond base on the board. A run is scored every time a player touches home base. If the team misses three questions, the other team is up.
  5. Try some rhythms. Clap or tap out a rhythm and then have students repeat it. Vary the patterns and the lengths, making them increasingly more challenging.

Click here for more sponge activities.

Bulletin Board: Memorial Day

Bulletin Board: Memorial Day Teacher Created Resources

I think it is very important that we remember the brave soldiers who gave their lives for our country on Memorial Day. I wanted to create a patriotic bulletin board for Memorial Day, but my board dimensions did not fit a flag. I decided to create a “Remember Our Heroes” themed board. I made a sky background and created a U.S.A. flag using, red, white and blue paper. The flag is a red background paper with white stripes, cut and glued on top of it. I traced and cut 50 stars, and glued to the blue background.

Bulletin Board: Memorial Day Teacher Created Resources

The students made the soldiers using drawing paper for the body, hands and head.  We cut shoes and belts out of brown construction paper.  The hats were cut out larger than the head so we could fold them around the head and then fold up the brim.  To get the camouflage look on the uniform, we sponge painted them brown and green. We added a flag sticker on the soldiers’ hands.  The students put eye stickers on and drew the rest of the face.  I added “Remember Our Heroes” using Fancy Stars Funtastic 4” Letters Combo Pack, and brought the bulletin board all together with Patriotic Scalloped Border Trim.

Shamrock Potato Print Stamps

Shamroc kPotato Print Stamps-Teacher Created Resources

Kids will need a teacher or parent to assist them in creating this charming St. Patrick’s Day craft.


  • Potato
  • Shamrock cookie cutter
  • Knife
  • Pencil or Pen
  • Green Paint
  • Styrofoam or thick paper plate
  • White construction paper

Shamrock Potato Print Stamps-Teacher Created Resources

Let’s Do it!

  1. Teachers or parents help the kids cut the potato in half.
  2. Use a shamrock shaped cookie cutter to create the shamrock shape. If you don’t have a shamrock cookie cutter, draw an outline of a shamrock on the cut surface of one half of the potato.
  3. Teachers or parents, carve away some of the potato around the outside of the shamrock outline. Be sure the shamrock shape clearly sticks out from the rest of the potato.
  4. Pour some green paint onto a Styrofoam plate.
  5. Dip the potato into the paint and stamp onto the white construction paper to make a shamrock design.

More Ideas:

Make Shamrock People & Stories
Bring your shamrock potato print stamps to life by making  “shamrock people”. Add googly eyes and draw on a nose, mouth, arms, and legs.  Have students use the stamp 4 or 5 times on white construction paper, draw on faces and tell or write a story about the shamrock people.  Kids will love adding silly faces and using their imagination to come up with creative stories about the shamrock people.

Experiment with Different Materials
Experiment with stamping the potato prints onto different types of paper, such as thin, thick, and porous. You might also wish to experiment with stamping different types of materials, such as fabric, wood, and plastic.

Use a Sponge
Alternatively, you can create shamrock potato print stamps using a sponge. Simply outline a shamrock shape and cut.

For more St. Patrick’s Day projects and crafts, see Art for All Seasons