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5-Minute Fillers: Math and Anagrams

Volume 7

ZIP Code Math
Builds computation and research skills

Create addition and subtraction problems using ZIP codes. The two-factor ZIP codes should result in an answer that is another ZIP code. For example: 60601 (Chicago, Illinois) + 10469 (Bronx, New York) = 71070. Challenge students to calculate the answers and use a ZIP code directory to determine the name of the place that corresponds to the answer. (Answer: 71070 is Saline, Louisiana.)

Resource: City, State, ZIP Code Look-Up

Capital Bingo
Builds geography skills

Create a set of bingo cards with the name of a state or country in each square. Keep the cards handy and use them to play Capital Bingo. Call out the names of capital cities, and students mark the corresponding countries or states. Be sure to check the winner's card.

Variation: If you aren't studying capitals, adapt the bingo format to something you are studying -- math facts or vocabulary, for example.

State Abbreviation Match-Up
Builds geography and abbreviation skills

Pose the following question to students to start a lively discussion, or use is as a prompt for a quick journal-writing activity:

What if you could predict what your life would be like in 20 years? Where will you be, what will you be doing, and who might you be doing it with?

Count out index cards equal to the number of students in your class. Write the full name of a state on the first card and the abbreviation of that state on the next card. Continue until you have written a state name or abbreviation on each card. Place a card face down on each student's desk. Then instruct students to turn over their cards. Give students two minutes to find the person who has the state name or abbreviation that goes with the card they hold.

Anagram Puzzles

Anagrams are a terrific tool for stimulating students to think critically. Write the four phrases below on a board or chart. The letters in each phrase can be rearranged to spell a word. The words all have something in common. Challenge students to figure out the four words and what the words have in common.

Adapt the activity for younger students: To make the activity easier, tell students what the words have in common or arrange students in pairs to solve the anagram puzzles.

Answers: parrot, falcon, cardinal, and hummingbird are all birds