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5-Minute Fillers: Language, Puzzles, and More

Volume 16

Daffy Definitions
Builds vocabulary and creativity skills

Choose a word that is unfamiliar to students. Ask each student to write a definition of what they think the word might mean on an index card, and collect the cards. At the end of the day, read a list of possible definitions that includes a variety of students' written definitions and the actual definition of the word. Ask students to choose the correct definition.

So You Want to Be a Millionaire?
Builds calculation and money counting 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 were asked to tell the most valuable thing you have learned so far in school? What would that be? Why is it the most valuable thing you have learned?

Present the following problem to students: "You have won the state lottery. You have the option of accepting your winnings in a single check of $1 million or by spreading your payments out over a month. If you choose the second option, you will be paid 1 cent on the first day, 2 cents on the second day, 4 cents on the third day, and so on; the amount you receive each day is derived by doubling the amount received the previous day (for 31 days). Which option would you choose?" Encourage students to first estimate the amount of money they would receive if they chose the second option and then to calculate the actual amount.
(The actual amount is more than $21 million. Which would you choose -- $1 million or $31 million?)

Speaking the Language
Builds foreign language skills

For world language students, make a brief tape of one or more segments of a radio or TV program in the language being studied. Depending on the level of the students, you might include talk, music, commercials, news reports, and so on. Also create a transcription of the tape. Use the transcription to prepare work sheets in which students must answer questions about the segment(s) or fill in missing words. Ask students to listen to the tapes and complete the work sheets.


Picture puzzles such as the ones below are a terrific tool for stimulating students to think critically. Write or draw the following puzzles on a board or chart. Challenge students to study the puzzles to see if the words -- and the way they are written -- give them clues to the common expressions the puzzles illustrate.



3. __________ drive


Answers: 1. Buckle up; 2. big deal; 3. line drive; 4. elbow