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5-Minute Fillers: Critical Thinking Skills and More

Volume 31

Funny License Plates
Builds critical thinking and analytical thinking skills

You've seen them -- unusual combinations of letters and numbers on license plates that require two or three looks to figure out what they say. Write a handful of them on the board and challenge students to figure them out. Students can write (spell out) the translations of these plates on a small sheet of scrap paper. See which students have the most correct responses.

  • ICUROK -- I see you are okay
  • CALQL8 -- Calculate (probably on an accountant's car)
  • 10SNE1 -- Tennis, anyone?
  • 0GRAVTY -- zero gravity
  • 23PAIR -- Tooth repair (a dentist's license plate?)
  • ML8ML8 -- I'm late! I'm late!
You can find dozens more of these on the Vanity License Plate Web page. Caution: Select carefully. Many of them are inappropriate for use in the classroom.
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 met a stranger and could ask them only two questions? What questions would you ask that would help you learn if they might end up being a good friend?

Chain Spelling
Builds spelling and thinking skills

Go right around the classroom with this activity. Start by calling out a word -- any word. The next person has 10 seconds to call out a new word that begins with the last letter of the word you called out. And the activity keeps going For example, if you call out chain, the next person might call out night, then the next person might call out table, then elephant, tree, egg, garbage How long can you keep up the spelling chain before somebody makes a mistake or someone runs out of time? Can you make it all the way around the classroom?
 

Variation: To make the game more difficult for older students, you might narrow the possibilities by providing a category. For example, all words called out will have to relate to a category such as
  • Words of 6 letter or more
  • Cities and Countries
  • Science Words
  • Adjectives
  • Famous People's Last Names

Connection Challenge
Builds spelling, thinking, and classification skills

This activity is a variation on the Chain Spelling activity above. Go right around the classroom with this activity. Start by calling out a word -- any word. The next person has 10 seconds to call out a new word that relates in some way to the word you called out. And the activity keeps going For example, if you call out house, the next person might call out roof, then the next person might call out chimney, then Santa, sack, potato, garden, seeds, watermelon How long can students keep making connections before somebody gets stumped or runs out of time? Can you make it all the way around the classroom?

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.
  • REFRY
  • OCEAN
  • A BAT SILO
  • EMU BRAINS

Answers: ferry, canoe, sailboat, and submarine are all forms of water transportation

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2004 Education World

 

03/19/2004


 

 

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