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Classroom Downtime Game: Coffee No Tea

Updated on June 28, 2011

No matter how much we teachers may plan a lesson, there are times we find ourselves with a few minutes to spare before the bell. Downtime games are a great way to manage your classroom when "formal education" has stopped for the day. They can be great learning experiences as the students build community within the classroom and have fun while critically thinking. Here is just one that can be entertaining and useful within and outside the classroom.

Basic Rules for "Coffee No Tea"

  • This is a game where students try to discover the mystery formula for what they can and can’t bring to the picnic. The answer is in the title!
  • Begin by saying “I’m going on a picnic and I can bring coffee but no tea.” Ask a student what he or she will be bringing.
  • Let students tell you what they will bring. If a student says they are bringing an item that has a letter T in it, tell them they can’t bring it, but give them another option of what they can bring.
  • Continue to allow students to tell you what they will be bringing. One by one they will begin to catch on to the pattern.
  • Encourage confidentiality! Don't let students shout out the rule and give it away when they discover it!

Sample Dialogue

Teacher: We’re going to play a game called “Coffee No tea.” I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring coffee but no tea. What will you bring Susie?

Susie: I’m going to bring hot dogs.

Teacher: No, you can’t bring hot dogs but you can bring a hamburger. What will you bring Johnny?

Johnny: I’m going to bring salad.

Teacher: Great! I’m going to bring mayonnaise but I can’t bring mustard. What will you bring?..

  • Students will get stumped trying to figure out why they can and can’t bring certain items.
  • If students are having serious difficulties, refer them back to the original prompt and title of the game, “I can bring coffee but no TEEEAAAA”, until students begin to crack the code that they can’t bring any item that has the letter T in it!
  • The game doesn't have to end that day. You can play it over multiple days and even throughout the entire year until every student has figured out the rule!

For additional Classroom Downtime Games, Check out my other Hubs!

Classroom Downtime Game: Who Has the Ball?


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    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 

      7 years ago from United States

      This is a great idea--so often these extra minutes are wasted. Having easy to play games makes the classroom time more fun and it also builds a lot of classroom spirit. I think it would help if you added more ideas of how this game could be played with variations.


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