My fantastic five minute activities

I like to call them 5 minute activities -  they are small, fast, interesting and exciting to get your students’ attention and focus instantly. These 5 minutes will make your students ask for more - seize just 5 minutes to make the most of every class.

These  activities can be done at the beginning or the end of the class. They can be used to pep up sagging interest. Any topic can be introduced and revised, any concept revisited and strengthened. They can be done as individual, pair or group work.  They are sure short energisers as I have experienced with my students.

I have posts on these 5 Minute Activities in my blog Akila's English Class, which I started during last year’s pandemic.

1. Diamante Poems

A Diamante is an unrhymed seven-line poem. The lines are structured to form a diamond shape. ‘Diamante’ is the Italian word for diamond.  Writing Diamante poem is a 5 Minute activity guaranteed to bring fun and joy to any class room.

The seven lined poem follows a specific structure which gives it a unique diamond shape:

Line 1: one noun - the beginning subject of the poem

Line 2: two adjectives that describe the subject in line 1

Line 3: three -ing verbs related to the subject in line 1

Line 4: four nouns: two about the subject in line 1, two about the subject in line 7


Line 4: two phrases: one about subject in line 1, one about the subject in line 7

Line 5: three -ing verbs related to the subject in line 7

Line 6: two adjectives that describe the subject in line 7

Line 7: one noun - the ending subject of the poem

Word count on each line: 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1

Where Line 4 is the link between the two nouns in line -1 and line – 7

Structure of Diamante poems

There are the two variations of Diamante poems.

1. Synonym Diamante – begins with a noun and ends with a synonym of the noun.

2. Antonym Diamante – begins with a noun and ends with the antonym of this noun.

Diamante poems can be used to

1. reinforce definition and use of Noun, Adjective and –ing verbs / Gerunds 

2. compare and bring out the similarities between two nouns

3. compare and bring out the contrast between two nouns

4. enhance vocabulary

5 minutes to prepare:

1. Recapitulate the various parts of speech – Noun, Adjective and Verb

2. share examples of  diamante poems

3. brainstorm the common points of the Diamante poems such as

          a. number of lines

          b. parts of speech used in each line

          c. the 4th line which links nouns in line 1 and line 7

d. the shape of the poem and the relevance of the name – Diamante

5 minutes to engage:

1. Construct a Synonym Diamante poem using simple nouns like sports, cricket

2. Make a list of adjectives and verbs (-ing form) related to sports, cricket3. Students can construct the Diamante poem using the list of words

An example of Synonym Diamante poem on Sports, Cricket


                                                  indoor, outdoor

                                          competing, sxoring, winning

                                             team, stadium, bat, ball

                                            running, bowling, batting

                                                     balls, stumps


The same process can be used to construct Antonym Diamante Poems

Example : Sun, Moon


                                                     Bright, hot

                                             Blazing, shining, burning

                                           Lights day, illuminates night

                                           Reflecting, cooling, floating

                                                      Silver, cool


Pair work : Students can be paired and the noun in the 1st and 7th line taken up by each one. Setting a time limit they may construct their portion of Diamante and the resulting poem can be read out in the class. 

Click the link for more topics for synonym and antonym Diamante poems. 

2. Cryptograms

Challenging, interesting and highly stimulating, Cryptograms are a great teaching tool in an English language classroom.

This 5 minute activity is sure to challenge students into thinking really hard to unravel the encrypted proverbs. There are many interesting coding and decoding techniques. I have used the popular and easy substitution technique where an alphabet is substituted with another and so on. Once the encryption code is revealed, decoding is a cake walk. As the students get the hang of encoding and decoding, this 5 minute activity can be a regular feature in any class room.

Students may create their own codes with numbers, figures or any other interesting technique to challenge their peers and learning can happen in a happy and joyous way. In my blog post on Cryptograms I have posted 15 proverbs. Here I am sharing 5 as preview.

Proverbs in plain text

1. Actions speak louder than words.

2. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

3. A picture is worth a thousand words.

4. Beggars can’t be choosers.

5. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

click the link to download 15 proverbs in plain text

Encrypted proverbs

1. Mofuaze ebqmw xagpqd ftmz iadpe.

2. M vagdzqk ar m ftagemzp yuxqe nqsuze iuft m euzsxq efqb.

3. M buofgdq ue iadft m ftagemzp iadpe.

4. Nqssmde omz’f nq otaaeqde.

5. Nqmgfk ue uz ftq qkq ar ftq nqtaxpqd.

click the link to download the 15 proverbs in encrypted text 

click this link to download key to alphabet substitution

3. Vocab Bingo

Using Bingo as a 5 minute activity is a very interesting and creative way to teach useful vocabulary.

Tambola, or Housie is a popular game in India. It is known as Bingo in the United States of America and is played slightly differently. The game is fun to play and easy to learn. This well-known and interesting game is often used in English classrooms to enhance vocabulary.

In the following 5 minute activity Bingo is used to teach a dozen useful adjectives. 

Vocab bingo on adjectives

 How to play 5 Minute Activity

Step 1: 

Students will create their own bingo cards by drawing 3x4 grid as we have 12 adjectives. (This can be given as home task so that students come prepared with the Bingo sheet).The grid will be filled with the given 12 adjectives.

Step 2: 

Then the teacher can choose the adjectives one by one and give the clue - meaning of the adjective and the students cross out the adjective that they think is the right answer.

Variation of step 2:

The clue read out by the teacher can be synonym / antonym of the adjective and the students cross out the adjective that they think is the right answer.

Winners may be the first to complete 4 corner adjectives correctly,  the first to complete individual rows correctly, or the first to complete the entire dozen correctly.

Click the link for follow up activities and Variations to this 5 minute Vocab Bingo activity

Note :

* Students may be asked to draw grids in their notebooks so that the Bingo sheet/card need not be printed.

* Teacher can fill the Bingo Grids with whatever vocabulary is being used blackboard/smart board and students can just copy them.

* When students consciously use the vocabulary learnt, they may be rewarded with smileys, stars, or anything else that they would enjoy showing off.

click the link to download blank Bingo sheet

Visit Akila's English Class for more!

Happy Teaching!

By by S.Akilandeswari

No votes yet

Submitted by Sajit M Mathews on Thu, 03/25/2021 - 11:47


Wonderful ideas and activities! Thanks a lot. 

Research and insight

We have hundreds of case studies, research papers, publications and resource books written by researchers and experts in ELT from around the world. 

See our publications, research and insight

Sign up to our newsletters for teachers and teacher educators

We will process your data to send you our newsletter and updates based on your consent. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of every email. Read our privacy policy for more information.