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5-Minute Fillers: Math, Puzzles, and More

Volume 23

Spelling by the Numbers
Builds spelling, research, and sequencing skills

Assign each letter a different value, a number from 1 to 26. Write the week's spelling or vocabulary words in number form on the board, an overhead, or work sheets to distribute. For example, C=17, A=22, and T=4, so cat would appear as 17, 22, 4. Set a time limit. See how many words students can figure out before the time is up. Give a small prize to the first person who spells all words correctly.


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 best friend totally forgot to do his or her homework and asked to copy yours? What would you do? What would you say?

Teacher Wins

Builds listening skills

Divide the class into two teams. Explain that all the students are on one team and the teacher is the only member of the second team. Announce to students that you plan to win this activity -- and listen to them groan! Tell them that you are about to read a passage from a book; vary the length of the text according to the age and abilities of the students. When you finish reading, you will ask questions about the passage. The students win a point for every question they answer correctly. The teacher earns a point each time the students are wrong. (The teacher might also earn a point if the students say anything other than the answer to a question. For example, if the students call out an answer without raising their hands, the teacher gets another point. Or the teacher might throw in a question that does not relate to the piece that was read. For example, the teacher might ask, "Mario, what are you going to be for Halloween?" If Mario falls for it and answers the question aloud, the teacher wins another point. These extra rules will add to the fun and make this a pretty quiet game!)

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: Antarctica, North America, Australia, and South America are all continents

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2004 Education World