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5-Minute Fillers: Reading Skills and More

Volume 17

In the News!
Builds spelling, vocabulary, and news reading skills

Each day, hang a few of the day's most important news stories -- with their headlines removed -- on the chalkboard or bulletin board. At the end of the week, arrange students into two teams and play a Wheel-of-Fortune type of game using the missing headlines as the phrases the students must guess. After each headline is identified, have the team that did not guess the phrase find the corresponding news story. Choose a member of that team to explain the news event to the class.

A Collaborative Mystery Story
Builds storytelling and writing 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 your parents told you they wanted to adopt another child your age? What would your reaction be? Why would you react that way?

Write the first sentence of an original mystery story on a blank journal page. The story starter should be both intriguing and vague: "The murder happened at midnight"; "The house throbbed with the ghostly presence"; "Let me tell you about that night!" Ask each student to add a sentence or a paragraph to the story -- depending on the age of the students. (Provide a checklist with the journal, so the last student to add to the story will realize that he or she must write the conclusion.) When the story is complete, turn off the lights and read it aloud.

Animal Mix-Up
Builds creativity skills

After a lesson on animals, have your students create a new animal by mixing and matching the features of several of the animals studied. For example, after studying African animals, students might combine an elephant's ears with a giraffe's neck, a zebra's body, and a tiger's tail -- a tigraffphant! Encourage students to name their animals.

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.

Answers: Apache, Navajo, Cherokee, and Mohawk are all groups of Native Americans