Nearly every day a teacher has a few minutes "wait time" — not enough time to start something new, but too many minutes to do nothing (other than watch helplessly as the kids go bonkers). Here, on the first day of each month, I will describe a time filler that my former students liked to do, as well as some I heard about from teachers throughout the country. Nearly all of these time fillers can be adjusted to fit the interests and capabilities of your grade level.
I love getting new time fillers that I can pass on to others. If you have a time-filler that your students enjoy, please use the Contact button at the top of this page and tell me about it. And finally, let me know if I have permission to publish your name. I like to give credit where credit is due, but that choice is yours.
This activity is (to my knowledge) the only Time Filler that I didn't pick up from someone else. I don't remember when or why I started using it, but I'm guessing it may have been on an indoor recess day or some other occasion when I figured I'd had about enough noise for one day. In first grade we did only addition and subtraction Mute Math, but when I sub in older grades we also multiply and divide.
When you first introduce this game you'll want to explain the word "mute," and use the opportunity to replace common misconceptions regarding deafness with factual information.
In this game the teacher gives and the students answer math computation problems using only "sign" language. There are two objectives: Total silence, and fun. I'll try to describe the signs I use, but if you come up with something better — GO FOR IT.
Add: Make a cross using the index finger on both hands
Subtract: Hold the index finger (from either hand) horizontally
Multiply: Make an X using the index finger on both hands
Divide: Hold the index and middle finger of one hand horizontally, and poke the tip of the index finger (representing a dot) from the opposite hand through the opening.
Equals: Hold the index and middle finger of one hand horizontally
Cheer for Correct Answer: Raise one arm, swing it around three times as if it were a lasso, and then punch the air. Kids absolutely love this silent cheer. You may occasionally want to suggest a Silent Cheer at other times throughout the day/week.