The Last Minute Lesson Plan: Custom Bingo Saves the Day

We teachers have all been there at one time or another- scrambling to put together a last minute lesson plan.  And when I say last minute I mean it- literally less than 60 seconds. You know the culprits that keep us on our toes and our wheels spinning like sixty: A fellow colleague had to leave early and you get called to cover their class. Or a fire drill left you with 15 minutes left and 25 eyes staring at you demanding, Now what???  You have got to come up with something or be prepared for mutiny.

Sometimes, we even bring it upon ourselves.  Creativity hits you like a dodge ball from behind on, say, Reptile Awareness Day (yes, it’s for real, October 21 to be exact). You think, “Wouldn’t it be fun to ditch that well-planned lesson I had on prepositional phrases and do something related to reptiles?!?

Here are my top 3 lesson plans that I can pull together no matter the time, class, or grade level.


Take a blank sheet of paper, fold it in a myriad of ways and next thing you know, you have a utilitarian activity that can be used in as many ways as you can think of to fold a piece of paper.

Subbing for the history teacher last minute??? Fold the paper so that there are six boxes and BAM!  You now have an activity for creating a timeline for the Revolutionary War.

15 minutes left in reading class due to the severe weather drill?  Two folds create three boxes and VIOLA!   Now you have a beginning, middle, and end summary graphic organizer for the story you just randomly picked from your third grade classroom’s bookshelf.

One piece blank paper, so many possibilities.  Love it!

The Flower Game

Okay, this is my own creation and has stood the test of time and a diverse student population. It requires no advance planning, less than 5 minutes to set-up, and can be used with any subject.  Best of all, it is super fun and the kids LOVE IT!

Set Up

You can get the flower cards here.  Draw a large 2 by 3 grid on the chalkboard.  Set up the “gardens” by labeling each grid space A-F.  Draw six flowers in each space.   I like to draw six asterisks for quick flowers. Give each student a blank piece of paper. Split the kids up into six different teams, 3-5 kids per team.  Name each team to match one of the garden letters (Team A, B, C, etc…).  Have students count off by 3s, 4s or 5s so that each team member has a different number and record this number on their paper (so they don’t forget).

To Play

Ask a question.  After all the students have had a chance to record their answers, you randomly call a student number (based on when they counted off previously).  All the kids who have that number stand up.  You reveal the answer and the students that have the correct answer get to pull a card and do whatever it says. The fun truly lies in the flower cards. The Flower cards will tell kids too do things such as add or destroy flowers in their garden or a neighbor’s garden. Ask another question and let the fun continue!  The winner is the team left with the most flowers.


I have yet to experience a grade or subject that does not succumb to the fun and engagement that only bingo can offer. Any topic, any math concept, any holiday can be the subject for a bingo game.  You can create your own using the foldable concept from above or, you can use a site like Bingo Card and create as many unique cards as you need in three easy steps AND in under 60 seconds.  It even generates a random cut-apart call sheet for you.

Best of all, there are over 1000+ bingo games spanning every conceivable topic. All subjects including science, history, math, English and reading skills like site words as well as languages like Spanish, and French are all available for quick access.  There are even fun activities like ice breaker bingo, scavenger hunt bingo and cards for different decades and holidays.  24 words and a printer, and you look like you have been planning for hours instead of seconds.

So take a deep breath, find your coverage class, recover from that safety drill, or even your own creative detour.  You got this.

Click here to quickly create custom bingo cards for your classroom.