The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

Teachable Moments: Using Quality Time Fillers

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Teachable MomentsWhen I was studying to become a teacher, one thing that impressed me most about my mentors was how these teachers purposefully used bits and pieces of time for effective learning. I am talking about those precious minutes ranging from 5 to 20 minutes that happen “just because.” They may happen daily, weekly, or unexpectedly. I found myself thinking how the value of quality time fillers adds up over a period of time. It became one of my goals to use effectively these precious bits of time during a school day.

Why are bits and pieces of time important?

1. Educators can use bits of time to recall prior knowledge, build on previously learned skills, or apply concepts already learned—all important to retention and memory. Caine and Caine suggested that spatial and rote memory types are enhanced with these opportunities.

2. Many students, especially those with short attention spans, thrive with having short chunks of instruction embedded into a day that primarily consists of longer lessons and tasks.

3.  It is an opportunity to focus on target areas that will benefit or enrich students’ learning.

4.  Used creatively and efficiently, time fillers effectively enhance the regular curriculum.

Getting the most out of quality time fillers

  • Be purposeful: Assess how this mini-block of time will best serve your students.
  • Be prepared: Have everything ready so that each student can access what they need in less than a minute.
  • Focus on one type of skill or topic: This dedicated time will have an impact.

Some time-filler ideas:

1. Evan-Moor Thinking Skills develops critical, creative, and logical thinking skills in concise, imaginative activities:

2. Evan-Moor “Daily” titles provide review and practice of math, language arts, science, and social studies in 10–15 minute activities.  Daily titles include:

3. Art project kits stored in individual zip-lock bags like weaving projects or paper crafts such as this paper tube animal project or paper weaving project.

4. Music ideas:

  • Total Physical Response such as dancing, clapping, singing, and chanting
  • Music theory such as learning about rhythms or notes (e.g., clapping rhythms)

What are some ways you have effectively met the needs of your students using teachable moments?


Image of contributor Marti BeeckMarti Beeck started her career in education as a parent volunteer in her three children’s classrooms. Her teaching experience, including adult school, intervention, and the primary classroom, was inspired by her background in psychology and interest in brain-based learning. Marti currently works in the field of educational publishing as an editor.

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  1. Pingback: Lesson Roundup: Activities for the End of the School Year and Summer Learning | The Joy of Teaching - An Evan-Moor Blog

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