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5-Minute Fillers: Spelling, Puzzles and More

Volume 33

Hink Pinks
Builds spelling, vocabulary, and thinking skills

When you have five minutes to spare, challenge students to think up hink pinks. For example:

a party at a convent = nun fun
a married rodent = mouse spouse
a "hip" monster = cool ghoul
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 found a magic lantern? The genie will grant you three wishes. What will you wish for? Why did you make each of those wishes?

You get the idea! Students must come up with a rhyming pair of words and then write a definition that will reveal that word pair to their peers. Which students will come up with hink pinks that stump their classmates?

For more ideas and resources, see the Hink Pink Activity page.

Tic Tac Toe
Builds a wide variety of skills

This versatile and fun activity can be used to reinforce any skill. Simply create a transparency that has on it a tic-tac-toe grid. Project that transparency image on a wall or screen. Use solid shapes (circles and squares, for example) as markers as you play this game.

Pennies (circles) and wooden Scrabble tiles (squares) make useful markers.

Divide the class into two teams. One team will be the "Circles" and the other team the "Squares." Decide the skill or topic you will reinforce during the game and pose a question about that skill or topic to the first person on the Circles team. (Examples: You might pose a spelling word, a math computation, a state name for which you want students to identify the capital) If the student gets the answer correct, he or she earns a Circle and can place it anywhere on the tic-tac-toe grid. If the student gets the answer wrong, the question moves to the first person on the Squares team. The question moves back and forth until a student gives the correct answer and earns a shape for his/her team. Play ends when one team gets three shapes in a row on the tic-tac-toe board.

Forward and Backward
Builds spelling and thinking skills

Challenge students to come up with as many words as they can that spell actual words when written forward and backward. For example, ton written backward spells not; stop spells pots; and rail spells liar. Who can come up with the most word pairs that are correctly spelled?

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.
  • HAUL

Answers: hula, ballet, limbo, and hustle are all dances

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
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