40 Games to Play at the End of the Day

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Anybody else’s end of the day complete chaos?!?  Just me?  Packing up, dismissals, cleaning up their areas, bus calls, announcements… oh yeah, and on top of that the students’ voice levels are at an all-time high.  I don’t know about you, but the end of the day is one of the most stressful parts of my day. It’s the end of the school day and I’m exhausted and also ready to go home.  Some days after I provided several verbal prompts, bell ringing, light flashing, etc. I just give up because the students continue to be loud and all over the place.  It wasn’t until I started playing games at the end of the day that all of this changed!

The students are so excited to play a game that I started using it as a classroom management tool.  Several students at the end of the day always ask to play a game. However, I always say the same phrase: “Once everyone is packed up, floors cleaned, quiet and in their areas – we can play!”

As is the case with many activities, the novelty wore off quickly playing the same game (or few) each afternoon.  Let’s face it the “quiet game” only gets us so far.  I knew I needed more, so I did what I knew best!  I reached out to our Teaching Trailblazers from our Fearless First Grade Teachers Group on Facebook to see what End of the Day Games other classrooms are playing.  Here is a fun-filled, packed list of 40 Games to Play at the End of the Day with your Students!

*** Please feel free to adapt any of the following games to not only best meet the needs of your classroom, but follow COVID guidelines that align with your district and classroom protocols.***

I think the greatest thing about this list is that it truly doesn’t JUST have to be done at the end of the day!  You can utilize these games throughout the entire day as brain breaks, transition activities, or even an afternoon for Fun Fridays!

End of the Day Game 1 ~ Secret Scrap

Are you looking for a creative way for students to clean up the room?  Well, let me introduce the new “popular craze”….. SECRET SCRAP!  Alright, so it may not be all that popular yet, but I know I am going to introduce this game to my class TOMORROW!

Rules are simple!  The student who picks up the item/scrap on the ground that you spot… wins!!!

2 ~ 4 Corners

Number the corners of the classroom from 1 to 4. Select one student to be “It”. That person closes their eyes while the rest of the students go to one of the four corners in the classroom. When all students are scattered and settled in a corner, the person that is “it” calls out a number. All the kids who chose that corner are out of the game and must sit down.

The students still playing choose a different corner and the player that is “it” closes their eyes again. This individual yet again calls out a number, and more students sit down. When the game gets down to four people or fewer, each must choose a different corner. The game continues until only one student is left. That student becomes “It” for the next round.

Sometimes if students are not closing their eyes to choose a corner or other students are yelling that they are “looking” it is time to get creative!  You can roll a dice to identify the corner, use a number generator program online, pick a number out of a bowl, or any other creative way you can come up with!

Game 3 ~ I Spy

“I SPY… with my little eye, something that is ______”.   Here is another game on this list that is just so adaptable!   You can stick with the classic by identifying the color of the item you are thinking about.  Other options include function, classification, inside the classroom/outside the classroom, story related, etc.

This is such a popular game that Education to the Core created an “I SPY” resource as its inspiration!

4 ~ Hangman

Academic or fun in nature, hangman is a GREAT option for the end of the day.   Rules are simple!  Think of a word or phrase and place that number of blanks on the board.  I go around the room and allow each student to guess one letter.  If the letter is in the word or phrase, then you write the letter in the blank space.  If not, then a portion of your drawing will be completed. I tend to not go for the original person drawing, but choose items with several parts like a UFO, animal, etc.  Not only do the students get to laugh at the “awful” drawing I do, but also it is always changing. Once the drawing is completed, then the game is over and the class will lose.  However, if a student guesses the word/phrase correctly or all the letters are guessed, the class wins!

I love this game because it is so easy to incorporate a theme or academic topic that you’ve been working on into the game!

5 ~ Beach Toss

Have you ever used a beach ball in your classroom before?  When the summertime rolls around, I run to the dollar store to buy a whole bunch of them!  Next comes the sharpie marker!  The options are truly ENDLESS when it comes to this activity! In each section of the beach ball, you write a question or fact to solve.  When you toss the ball to a student, whatever section they catch it on is what they answer (I typically do a thumb).  Great for the end of the day, during academics, or SEL lessons! 

You can bring comprehension into the game when reading a story by writing Identify: Main characters, setting, problem, solution, etc.  Math facts are easy to add to the ball or even some Social Emotional Learning opportunities to identify situations where they feel a certain emotion!

Game 6 ~ Silent Ball

Students stand together in a circle.  The game begins when the countdown begins…”3, 2, 1, silent”.  Students pass the ball to another person within the circle.  A player must sit down if:

  • They drop the ball.
  • The student makes a bad pass.
  • They talk or make noise.

Play continues until only one person remains.

7 ~ 1, 2, 3 Freeze

“1, 2, 3….Everybody Freeze”.   The statue game has never been any better!  Any movement and they have to sit down.   Don’t feel like yelling out the directions of when to freeze after a long day of teaching?   Here is a video to do it for you! Feeling a little festive with the holidays approaching?  Here is a Holiday Dance and Freeze video as well!

8 ~ Monster Squeeze

Monster Squeeze is a game that reinforces number recognition and the concepts of greater and less than.  To play the game you will need two print-out monsters (one facing left, one facing right) and a number line.

A student will identify a number from the number line.  I usually have the student write their number down on a piece of scrap paper.  Next, students in the class get a chance to guess the number.  The student who picked the number must tell the class if their number is lower or higher than the number guessed.

For example, the student picked the number “9” as their hidden number. One student in the class guessed a “2”.  The student said that their number is higher than 2 and placed the monster facing right indicating that their number is higher than 2.   Another student guessed 11, which in turn the student replied that it is less than 11 placing the monster facing left.    Play continues until the number is guessed.  That student is then the one to pick the next number!

Game 9 ~ “Doggy, Doggy, Where’s Your Bone?”

To play this game all you need is a bone!  Well… probably not a real one.  If your students are anything like mine…then they will probably end up hitting each other with it.  *shrugs*    So probably a paper version will suffice.

One student is chosen to be “it”.  They have to close their eyes or turn around.  Another student is chosen to “hide” the bone by either sitting on it, in their sleeve, or even desk.  Once the bone is out of sight, the whole class chants:

“Doggy, Doggy, Where’s your bone? Somebody took it from your home.  Guess Who!  It Might Be You!”  

Then the student who is “it”, guesses 3 times who is hiding the bone.

10 ~ Heads Up, Seven Up

Here is a blast from the past!   Gosh, I remember playing this game in elementary school!  Although, I am NOT going to tell you the year or time frame!

All you have to do is select seven students, which will stand in front of the room.  Tell everyone else to put their heads down on their desks and place their thumbs up.  Each of the seven students will walk around the room and lightly tap one student’s thumb down.  The seven students return to the front of the room.  “Heads up, seven up!” is said and all the students are able to lift their heads up.  The seven students that were chosen have an opportunity to guess which classmate chose their thumb.  If guessed correctly, they get to take that student’s spot as one of the seven.

End of the Day Game 11 ~ Sleepy Sheep

One student is chosen to be the “shepherd” and they get to sit in the teacher’s chair.  While there, they must watch over the “flock” of sheep (a.k.a. their classmates).  Whoever they choose as the quietest sheep gets to become the next shepherd.

One kid is a shepherd and they get to sit in my chair. Whoever they pick as the quietest sheep gets to become the next shepherd.  There are a few other versions of this game using various other animals like “Lazy Lions” or “Chilled Penguins”.   See if perhaps you could come up with a fun version using your school’s mascot!

12 ~ Scrambled Eggs!

Send one student out into the hallway for a brief moment.  Inside the classroom, “hide” one student (perhaps sitting in the cubby area, behind your desk or table).  Say “scrambled eggs” and the remaining students all switch spots sitting at different desks.  Bring the student from the hallway back into the classroom.  They try to figure out which student is hiding.

Feel free to set a time limit as well as the possibility of providing clues.  This is sure to be a crowd favorite!

13 ~ 20 Questions

Here is another game on this list that is just so adaptable.  You can choose an item in the room or think of an animal, character, or item from your lessons.  Students are allowed to ask 20 yes/no questions to you regarding the item (or you can change the rules depending on how many students you have – so every student gets to ask a question).

One educator had a great idea that the students cannot guess what it is until all students had an opportunity to ask a different yes/no question.  It involves the class thinking creatively and how to form appropriate yes/no questions.

Game 14 ~ Scattegories

All students will need for this game is a whiteboard or piece of paper.  Write a letter on the board and provide the students with a category.  Set the timer and the students must write down as many words that begin with the identified letter within the category provided!

15 ~ The Floor is Lava

Have you ever heard of the “floor is lava” before?  The concept is a simple one.  Whenever the phrase “the floor is lava” is said, students have a 5-second countdown to get off of the floor.  Expectations are usually needed for this one of the dos and don’ts.  I allow my students to either remain seated on their chairs or even sit on their desks safely with their feet off of the floor.  However, they are not allowed to stand on their chairs or desks.

Game 16 ~ Swat

My students LOVE when I bring out the giant fly swatters!  I also love this game because not only is it engaging for my students, but I can use whatever skill that is needed for practice!   From math facts to nonsense words, the possibilities are endless!  In two teams, one student at a time from each team stands in front of the board with the fly swatter.  The teacher calls out a word or math fact and the first student to “swat” the answer on the board gets a point for their team.

17 ~ Simon Says

Simon Says is another classic that I just couldn’t forget to include on this list!  Students must follow the directives of “Simon”.  However, listen closely because if the directive doesn’t begin with “Simon Says”, then the student shouldn’t do it because “Simon didn’t say”.

18 ~ Sparkle

My students are OBSESSED with this game!  Honestly… I’m not upset about it either!   I LOVE to use my unit’s spelling words for this game, but you can also use vocabulary words, sight words, past spelling lists as well.

All students are standing in a line or behind their seats.  You provide a word to spell.  Straight down the line, each student provides a letter to spell the word in order.  If they misspell or don’t know the next letter, they must sit down.  Once the word is spelled correctly the next student says “Sparkle” which will make the next student in line have to sit.  This is an M-U-S-T “sparkle” in the classroom!

Game 19 ~ Hot Potato

In a circle, students pass a soft item or ball around while music is playing.  Once the music is paused, whoever is holding the item is “out”.  The game continues until one student is left.

20 ~ Night at the Museum

Students in the room must pose and freeze like statues.  The judge or teacher walks around the room and chooses the best one.  Whoever is the best statue is the judge for the next round.   Creativity with their poses is a must for this challenge!

End of the Day Game 21 ~ Line Up, Line Up!

Ready for the end of the day with some time to spare?  Do you have your students line up prior to leaving or walk them out to the bus area?  Or just want to test your students’ non-verbal skills?   Here is the game for you!

Have your students line up with a given task:   Examples include, Tallest to shortest, Birthdays in order from January to December, Last year teacher, etc.   However…NO TALKING!   Students are not able to talk or yell out how to line up.  It is up to them to use their non-verbal skills like gestures, fingers as numbers, head nods/shakes, etc.    Time for them to work together as a team to see if they can line up correctly and quickly.

22 ~ Rock, Paper, Scissors

Here is the perfect ‘social distancing’ game for the end of the day.  With a nearby peer, students play rock, paper, scissors.  Keep tally mark score.   Remember the rules:  Rock beats scissors, paper covers rock, scissors cut paper.

23 ~ Guess Who?

Can You Guess Who, do you have a clue?”  Here is a slightly altered version of Number 13.  Choose a student in the classroom.  Students take turns asking yes/no questions using adjectives only.  See if the students can guess who you are thinking about!

Game 24 ~ Buzz

In this math version of “Sparkle”, #18, students must count in order by 1s.  However, whenever the student gets to a number of 10, they have to say “BUZZ” instead of the number.  If they say the 10 (10, 20, 30, 40, 50….) they’re out.  If they say “BUZZ”, then the next student in order is out.  Play continues until the last person is still standing.  How far can your class make it?!?

25 ~ Heads Up, Seven Up

Hey!  Wait for a second…  Wasn’t this already mentioned on this list?  I just scrolled back up and saw it on number 10!   Before you make a comment saying that there were only 39 games on this list hear me out.

This is an entirely different version that I JUST heard about.  So I wanted to include it in this list again because it was a cool version that is so different from what I played as a child myself.

First, all the students will put their heads down on their desks and extend one of their thumbs. Then, the teacher secretly chooses one person as “It.” This child moves around the room quietly touching the thumbs of six other people. If a person is touched, they go to the front of the room. When six have been chosen, “It” yells, “Seven up!” Everyone raises their heads and tries to guess which of the seven people is “It.”

What version are you familiar with?  This one or number 10?  Now I want you to comment with that answer!  🙂

Game 26 ~ Apple Pie

Here is another one on this list that my students just absolutely adore!   Choose one person to be “it”.  They stand in front of the room facing the board/wall with their back towards the rest of the class.   Choose another student that is sitting in their seats to say the phrase: “Apple Pie”.  However, they must disguise their voice.  Perhaps a high-pitched voice is needed or a deep ‘monster voice’.  The options that the students will come up with are just hilarious!  The student standing will turn around and get three guesses of who the ‘mystery voice’ was.

27 ~ Skip Counting

Here is another fun math game on the list. Practice skip counting by 2s, 5s, 10s.  Write down the largest number you get to until someone either makes a mistake or dismissal occurs.  See if the students can “beat their high score” next time!

28 ~ Telephone

As a heads up, students must be close enough to whisper to each other.  So you may want to hold on to this one until the pandemic is over.  

Players must sit in a circle or line to begin.  The first person in the line is told a word or phrase.  They in turn whisper that word or phrase to the next person.  The game continues until it reaches the last player in line.  The conclusion of the game is when the last person says the word or phrase out loud so everyone can hear how much it has changed!

Game 29 ~ I Have, Who Has?

Education to the Core has the perfect resource that could even fit into this category of End of the Day Game!  Our, I Have, Who Has resource covers a variety of ELA and Math topics.  Each student will receive a card.  The “I have the first card” goes first and play continues following the prompts on the card until the student with the “this is the last card” is identified.

30 ~ Would You Rather?

This game was a lifesaver during distance learning! So much fun that we have carried it over to use in the classroom. You can easily on the spot come up with questions such as “Would you rather eat pizza every day or McDonald’s?”. But we’ve also included a link to some cards that you can pre-make ahead of time.

End of the Day Game 31 ~  Trivial Pursuit

In this version, you can use Brain Quest cards. I have the Brain Quest boxes for Kinder, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd! They are jam-packed with questions that are perfect time-fillers. You can differentiate so everyone can have a chance to be right!

32 ~ Mirror Me

Have students form two lines, directly across from one another.  So that they are in pairs standing in front of each other.  One line at a time must form a pose.  When prompted the person in the opposing line must mirror that same pose.  Then the roles are reversed allowing the other line to choose the pose and the other mirror.

33 ~ Directional Activities

See how well your students can follow directions!  I know I pull this game out whenever I notice students are having a hard time following multi-step directions…which unfortunately is more often than I would like to admit.  My students love to draw so I made a game out of it.  I describe a scene and they must draw it.  Seems simple right?   It is, but you can make it as challenging as you like.   Once the students get used to the game add in some colors.  I like to start off with a simple direction first and add in multi-step directives as we progress through the picture.

Looking for a starting point?  Check out these Directed Drawings for some inspiration!

34 ~ Countdown

Select 2-3 random vowels and 4-5 random consonants.  Your students will have 30 seconds to come up with as many words as possible, using only the letters on the board.  Set a timer and whoever gets the most words (spelled correctly) wins this round.

35 ~Name That Tune

Time to pull up Youtube or your favorite clean music streaming app/site.  Play a few moments of a song.  See if students can guess what it is hearing the first few notes.  You’ll be surprised at how many songs your students may know even from your childhood era!

Game 36 ~ Finish The Lyric

Going off of #35, I thought why can’t I take this and bring the “Finish that Lyric” television show into my classroom!?!  See if your students can finish the lyrics to their favorite song.  Start the tune and pause it allowing your students to finish the lyric.

37 ~Charades

Allow students to come up with characters, animals, people, etc., and write them down.  Collect the responses and see if a student can act out one of them for their classmates to guess.

38 ~ Race to the Finish

I promise this game has NOTHING to do with running!  In two teams, one player from each team comes up to the board.  Provide a word (spelling, vocabulary, or sight word) to them.  The first one to write the word on the board, spelled correctly, gets a point for their team.

One important rule for my students is that it MUST be legible so don’t go too fast that you cannot read what it says.

Game 39 ~ Yoga / Movement Activities

Yoga Stretches ~ One of my favorite sections in our CORE Binder is Yoga. The kids love the superhero poses, and the animal poses the best!  Challenge your students with this game…combine End of the Day Game #20 and #32 into one fun mindful game!

40 ~ Minute to Win It!

Based on the game show, Minute to Win It, there are numerous “mini” games challenges to complete.  You can have students work individually, in small groups, or the whole class to compete in any of these ‘minute to win it’ games.

Some challenges include:

  • Speed stacking paper cups
  • Rolling a coin between the tongs of a fork
  • Building a tower out of spaghetti and string
  • Getting an Oreo from your forehead to your mouth without using your hands
  • Balancing a ball on a ruler

Did your favorite game make the list?  Or do you have a great End of the Day Game to add to the list?  Make sure to reach out to us in the comments to tell us your favorite End of the Day Game!

Special Thanks to our Teaching Trailblazers who offered up some of these fun and engaging games!   Thank you so much Kristen W., Adrienne L., Lori G., Kay T., Kerrie K., Amelia T., Brenda P., Brittany G., Sarah H., Kelli G., Linda J., Lindsae T., Maureen D., Angela M., Elizabeth C., Sheryl F., Suzy K., Choleia S., Maxine J., Amber W., Robert B., Michelle C., Kathy Y., and Gayle M.!  

Written by – Christopher Olson

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Welcome! I’m Emily, Founder of Education to the Core. We are all about helping K-2 teachers by providing unlimited access to affordable printables for every subject area.