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5-Minute Fillers: Spelling, Math, and More

Volume 22

Detective Spellcheck
Builds spelling and observation skills

Write 10 words on the board. These should be words the students already know. (This week's spelling words might be good words to use.) Go over the list of words with students. Then instruct them to lay their heads on their desks. When their heads are down, erase one of the words and rewrite it with a spelling error in it. When you announce "Go to work, detectives!" the students can raise their heads and try to figure out which word is misspelled. You can have students raise their hands as soon as they figure out which word is misspelled, or you can have each student write the correct spelling of the misspelled word on a sheet of paper. Correct the papers for a spelling grade.

Times Takeout
Builds multiplication 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 play one musical instrument that you do not know how to play now? What instrument would that be? Why would you choose that instrument?

This is a fun game to play as students learn the times tables. Write on the board a string of five numbers. All of the numbers should relate to one of the times tables except one number. For example, you might write the numbers 2, 3, 9, 12, 24. All the numbers are products of the 3X tables. The number that students should "take out" is the number 2. You might do this as an interactive call-out game that alternates between two teams of students, or you might do it as a pencil-and-paper activity in which every student participates.

Poison Word
Builds reading aloud and paying attention skills

Next time you're doing a round-robin reading activity, try this as a prompt for moving on to the next reader: Look in advance at the text to be read aloud. Choose a word that appears frequently in the text (at least once every few paragraphs). That is the "poison word." Whenever a student comes to the poison word in text, that's the signal for the next reader to take over. This activity keeps kids' attentive, since they are not reading a paragraph or a page; they are never quite sure where the reading will stop or start!


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.




death life

Answers: 1. Ants in your pants; 2. three-part harmony; 3. scrambled eggs; 4. life after death

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
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