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5-Minute Fillers: Writing, Vocabulary Skills, and More

Volume 14

What I Learned Today
Builds reflection and writing (journaling) skills

"What did you learn in school today?" Your students' parents will never get a shrug in response to that question because at the end of each day you will challenge students to think of one thing they learned that they didn't know the day before. Call on several students to share what they learned. By making this activity part of your daily routine, your students will have a ready-made answer when their parents ask "What did you learn in school today?"

Tip 1: Students might keep a "What I Learned Today" journal. At the end of the school year, they will have a keepsake record of what they learned.

Tip 2: You might let parents know that they should feel free to ask their children "What did you learn in school today?" -- because the kids should have a ready reply!

Wheeling Words
Builds spelling and vocabulary 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 appointed principal of your school? What changes would you make? Why?

Organize students into teams for this Wheel-of-Fortune-type spelling or vocabulary review game. Draw puzzle boxes on the board to represent the number of letters in a word. Give a clue about the word. (Example: noun) Team 1 rolls the dice and guesses a letter. If the letter is in the word, write the letters in the appropriate puzzle boxes and award the dice total. If the letter is wrong, Team 2 gets a turn. Students may "buy a vowel" for 5 points.

Vocabulary Memory Game
Builds vocabulary and memory skills

Organize students into pairs. Provide 20 paper slips or index cards for each pair. Students write on each slip one of ten vocabulary words and their definitions. Students shuffle the cards or slips and turn the cards upside down in five rows of four cards. Player 1 turns over one card, then another. If the two cards are a matching word and definition, the player holds those two cards. If they don't match, Player 2 takes a turn. Play continues until all matches are made.


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.

the world

dice dice



Answers: 1. All over the world; 2. paradise (pair-of-dice); 3. one on one; 4. just between you and me