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5-Minute Fillers: Language, Math, and More

Volume 32

Puzzling Palindromes
Builds language and spelling skills

Introduce the idea of a palindrome to students. A palindrome is a word that is spelled the same backward and forward. For example, mom, pup, and racecar are palindromes. Challenge students to come up with as many palindromes as they can within a timed period. You might let them use their dictionaries. Who will come up with the most?

You might even introduce the idea of entire sentences/statements being palindromes! For example:

A Toyota
A nut for a jar of tuna.

You can find many more palindrome sentences at Jim Kalb's Palindrome Connection Web page.

Following are the list of palindrome words we were able to come up with:
aha, bib, civic, dad, deed, deified, did, dud, eke, eve, ewe, eye, gag, gig, hah, huh, kook, level, ma'am, madam, mom, mum, noon, nun, peep, pep, pip, pop, pullup, radar, redder, refer, repaper, rotator, rotor, sees, sis, solos, stats, tat, tot, and wow.

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 a distant relative died and left you in charge of dividing up his $1,000,000 estate among all your family members? How would you divide the money?

Palindrome Numbers
Builds math computation skills

Have students

  • Choose any 3-digit number.
  • Reverse that number to create its palindrome.
  • Add together the palindromes.
  • Take the sum of the two numbers and add it to its palindrome.
  • Take the sum of those two numbers and add it to its palindrome again.

What do you notice about the third sum you came up with? It is a palindrome! Challenge students to test this idea. Is it always the case? Do you always end up with a palindrome sum at the end of three computations that begin by adding palindromes?

Sample computation:
Start with 362.
Reverse the number to create its palindrome. (362 becomes 263.)
Add together the two numbers. (362 + 263 = 625)
Take the sum of the two numbers and add it to its palindrome. (625 + 526 = 1251)
Take the sum of those two numbers and add it to its palindrome. (1251 + 1521 = 2772).
Your third sum, 2772, is a palindrome!

Sentences From A to Z
Builds spelling and thinking skills

Write the following sentence on a board or chart:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Tell students that this is a very unique sentence, and ask them if they can tell you why that is so. After giving students time to consider your question, share with them that the sentence uses every letter in the alphabet. (Some letters are used twice.) Challenge them to write another sentence that accomplishes that same goal! Who will write the shortest sentence that includes every letter of the alphabet?

These sentences are called pangrams. You can see more examples at Fun With Words: Pangrams.

Analogy Puzzles
Analogies are a terrific tool for stimulating students to think critically. Write the following analogies on a board or chart. Challenge students to select the appropriate conclusion to each analogy. Have students share their responses and the reasoning behind them. Correct responses are shown in bold italic type.

1. Library is to books as bank is to _____.
a. paper
b. robbery
c. money
d. teller

2. Rose is to vase as water is to _____.
a. lake
b. tub
c. ice cube
d. flow

3. Up is to down as top is to _____.
a. under
b. beneath
c. behind
d. bottom

4. Plumber is to pipe as mason is to _____.
a. foundation
b. stone
c. plaster
d. wire

5. Columbus is to Santa Maria as Gilligan is to _____.
a. Mrs. Howell
b. S.S. Minnow
c. skipper
d. hurricane


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