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5-Minute Fillers: Thinking Skills and More

Volume 15

Details! Details!
Builds skills such as following directions and describing details

Arrange students into pairs. Provide one student in each pair with a drawing of an arrangement of geometric shapes or with a relatively simple photograph, art print, or poster. Ask the student who has the drawing to describe the picture to his or her partner in detail; the other student should draw the picture without looking at the original.

I Dig It!
Builds creativity skills

Display a variety of household items, such as a hula hoop, an eyelash curler, a floppy disc, an ice-cream scoop, and so on. Explain to students that the items are artifacts recovered from the site of an ancient city and that they are to act as archaeologists studying those items. Encourage each student to determine how the items might have been used and then to describe the lives of the people who might have used them. Compare students' descriptions and discuss how each reached his or her conclusions.

Think It Through!

Builds critical thinking 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 could take a holiday vacation to anyplace in the world? Where would you want to go? Why?

Read students the following statement by Darwin: "The price of butter depends on the number of old maids in the area." Discuss what that statement might mean. Then read Darwin's entire statement: "The price of butter depends on the number of old maids in the area because old maids keep cats, cats eat mice, mice eat bees, bees pollinate clover, cows eat clover, the more clover there is, the less it costs the farmer to produce milk, butter is made from milk, therefore the price of butter depends on the number of old maids in the area." Read students the following statement: "For the lack of a nail, a kingdom was lost." Ask students to explain the connection between a nail and the loss of a kingdom in the same way Darwin explained the connection between old maids and the price of butter. At the end of the day, write the entire For Want of a Nail statement on the chalkboard and encourage students to compare it with what they wrote.

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. Milk is to cow as wool is to _____.
a. grass
b. sweater
c. bottle
d. sheep

2. Pen is to author as brush is to _____.
a. carpenter
b. plumber
c. painter
d. sweeper

3. Pitcher is to baseball team as drummer is to _____.
a. band
b. drumroll
c. thunder
d. drumstick

4. Fight is to arena as gamble is to _____.
a. casino
b. slot
c. cards
d. table

5. Ponder is to problem as dream is to _____.
a. sleep
b. future
c. nightmare
d. daydream