No Prep Back Pocket Games for Kids

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No Prep Back Pocket Games for Kids


Less than 10 minutes left to fill? Have a group of children that need to move or focus on a different activity? Sometime activities just don’t go as planned and you have 5-10 minutes left to fill.  Here is a short list of my top go-to back pocket games that I use.  They require little to no materials and little to no prep.

My full list of over 30 activities that can be used virtually anywhere that kids will love are available on my store. Link to product at bottom of this post.

I always over plan because I try to avoid having 10 minutes to fill if an activity I planned finishes early. Having a collection of back pocket games that I can pull out and quickly use helps me with classroom management.

The activities have also become something that my students look forward to and enjoy.

Some of the activities are active and will get children up and moving. Other back pocket games simply fill a few minutes with a thinking/concentration activity.

Sometimes you just need a group of children to sit down and quietly focus on something together.

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I find that there are lots of active brain break games that we have access to online. I wanted to create some back pocket activities are simple, and screen free.

Below are a few of my, and my students, favorite back pocket games. I hope they give you some ideas to take to your group of children – and to help you fill those few minutes.

What’s Missing?

If I have a bit of time, I will quickly gather 5 items from around the room or have 5 volunteers choose one thing each.  Literally anything will work – a small ball, a card, a crayon, a small car, a block.  It is not hard to find 5 small things in a classroom.

If you are outside, you could use things as simple as a leaf, a rock or even a shoe!

I set the items out in front of me, while children sit in a circle around me.  They concentrate on the object and try to remember what the objects are. 

I ask them to squeeze their eyes closed and I remove one object. 

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What’s missing?

They then open their eyes, and when they have figured out what’s missing they give me a thumbs up.

Often we have to try this out a few times to get everyone in the habit of not shouting out the missing object.

It makes me smile though because kids are just excited that they are able to quickly recognize the missing object.

I typically give everyone a minute or two to think about what is missing. After this time, they all call out what was missing and then we do it again. 

Sometimes I may challenge them and remove 2 objects. Or I move around the remaining objects before they guess. 

This is a great memory game and children are very focused to be able to show what a great memory they have. This back pocket game is definitely requested by my students on a regular basis.

Find This. Find That.

This is another simple game, and kids always love it. To start I call out something for children to find within the room.  It may be something red, purple, smooth, hard, alive, from nature, circular, something that starts with the letter ‘B’ etc. 

Children walk to find an object that fits the description.

Once they have found something they hold it up, or simply touch it and wait for the next descriptive word to be called. This game can also easily be played outside.

Tricky Fingers

I usually use a long piece of string for this activity, but if you don’t have one, you can do the activity without.  I attach a bead onto the string and then tie the string so that it makes a circle.

The bead has to be loose enough so that it easily slides around the string. 

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Sitting in a circle, I pass the string out so that everyone is holding some of the string. One person leaves the circle so they cannot see who starts with the bead.

One person starts with the bead, on the string, in their hand. 

When they return, they stand in the middle.  The bead gets passed from person to person while trying not to be seen by the person in the middle. 

The person in the middle gets 3 guesses as to who they think has the bead. 

The goal is to get the bead fully around the circle without being caught.

In the Pool, Out of the Pool

I have used this activity for primary and junior grades and it is great for gym class.  This works best outside, but works on the carpet in a room too. 

Children line up facing forward, shoulder to shoulder. 

When I call “in the pool”, children jump forward.  When I call “out of the pool”, students jump back. Sounds easy, right? 

It gets tricky when you call “in the pool” and they are already in. If a child jumps ‘in’ when they are already in, then they are out.

It’s a great listening activity and always a favorite.  It also works well to switch what you call based on any inquiry the class is working on.  For example, during a frog inquiry, we jumped “onto the lily pad”.

A Simple Read Aloud

I always have a book or two with me for all the times I need my group of children to sit and be quietly engaged. As a teacher, you can never go wrong to have a book on hand.

Brain Breaks Games / Back Pocket Task Cards

Since compiling all of the back pocket games and activities that I used, I have created a printable collection of over 30 activities. I printed, laminated and then attached them to a ring.

I always have them with me when I teach or am with a group of children. No matter where I am, I know that I always have lots of things to keep the kids busy and engaged!

I hope that you can use some of these.  It’s interesting that they are meant to be back up activities, but often end up being the most fun!

A full collection of 32 activities are available for purchase. Click the image below for more information.

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