Sponge Activities: Use Them to Optimize Your Time!

Sponge ActivitiesSponge activities are probably very familiar to the teachers (or former teachers) among us.

Typically used in the classroom, I think that we can all use sponge activities to make the most of our time! But before I share my ideas, here’s a description of sponge activities and how they are used by teachers.

 This description gives an excellent overview of what sponge activities are all about:

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.

Sponge Activities and YOU!

So, you are probably thinking, “That’s interesting, but what does it have to do with me and my time?”

Well, how about developing some sponge activities for yourself?  They can be a big help when you are shifting gears between tasks, for example:

  • You might consider using Reflection Points as sponge activities.  Looking back before moving ahead is an excellent way to stay grounded and find the best path forward.
  • Or how about a quick exercise break as a sponge activity?  There are few better ways to refresh yourself before reconnecting with your work!

I suggest also creating a collection of tasks that can be done quickly and ticked off your To-Do List in the time you have between larger tasks.  These tasks should be easy to complete – and they have the added boon of offering a sense of accomplishment that can be energizing (especially when working on longer-term projects).

You’ll create your own list, but the tasks shouldn’t take more than 5-minutes and might include things like:

  • Checking and categorizing your e-mail for future reference;
  • Unloading the dishwasher;
  • Making a quick visit to one of your social networking sites and adding a post or responding to one  (you may well want to use a timer for this!);
  • Replying to an e-mail or two;
  • Folding some laundry;
  • Prioritizing your to-do list;
  • Checking on-line for a dinner recipe;
  • Taking the dog for a brief walk … etc.

Do sponge activities sound like something you’d use?  Or have you already incorporated them into your time management repertoire?

What kinds of activities do you use?  We’d love to hear!


  1. Thanks – that’s an interesting way to group a number of activities that we can tuck in our busy schedules to enhance quality of life. Also, there are a number of isometric and core exercises that can be done any time without anyone noticing – at a stop light, for example.

  2. Thanks, Alison – I appreciate your comment and love your ideas for additional activities!

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