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5-Minute Fillers: Observation and Thinking Skills

Volume 28

Build a Parent Newsletter in Five Minutes a Day
Builds reflection and main idea skills

At the end of each school day, take five minutes to gather students before they leave for home to write on a special chart the "News Headline of the Day." What was the highlight of the day? What did students do or learn that was special or different? Write a few sentences about the headline you chose. By doing this

  • Students will have something to say when parents ask "What did you to today in school?" and
  • You will have all the content you need for creating an end-of-the-month newsletter to communicate class highlights with parents!

Mystery Picture
Builds observation and 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 bad experience you had taught you a valuable lesson? What lesson did you learn from the experience?

Collect a variety of pictures that clearly show things. Cut a sheet of paper that fits exactly over the picture except that you have cut a small circle or square out of the paper so the students can see a hint of what the picture is; only a small part is revealed. Gather students for a group meeting. Show the covered picture. Students should study the picture closely. If they have an idea what the picture under the paper is, they should take a slip of scrap paper back to their desk, write a description of the picture, and return to the meeting. Who is the first student to correctly guess the Mystery Picture? How many students guess correctly?

You might provide five pictures that reveal just a small clue. Give each picture to a group of students. Students who know will write what the picture shows. Rotate the pictures between the groups. Does anybody identify all five pictures? How many students are able to identify three or more of the pictures?

Coupon Madness
Builds math computation and money counting skills

This activity involves a little up-front preparation, but if you create 25 envelopes (one for each student), then this activity can be used to fill five minutes 25 times!

Cut store coupons from the Sunday paper or from mailed advertisements. Divide the coupons into stacks of five. On each coupon, write in bold marker the original price of the item pictured on the coupon. (Your best guesstimate will be fine.) Put the five coupons in an envelope.

The students' job is to figure the total cost of the five items for which they have coupons. To do that, they must subtract the value of the coupon from the original price you penned on the coupon. Then they total the cost of the five items. You might include in each envelope an index card on which you detail the cost of each of the five items after their coupon deductions and the total cost of the five items so students can check their own work; or you might keep an answer key and have students bring you their calculations to correct.

Extending the activity: You can use this activity again and again. If your students sit in assigned seats, you might number the envelopes and hand them out in sequence starting with envelope #1. The next time you use the activity, simply hand out the envelopes in sequence starting with envelope #2; that way, each student will get an envelope they have never seen before.

More 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. Jam is to toast as gravy is to _____.
a. potatoes
b. cheese
c. salad
d. French toast

2. Dog is to paws as horse is to _____.
a. gallop
b. shoes
c. hooves
d. pony

3. Trunk is to tree as stem is to _____.
a. flower
b. grass
c. ladder
d. branch

4. Train is to freight as ship is to _____.
a. water
b. cargo
c. deck
d. shipment

5. Sun is to rise as day is to _____.
a. dawn
b. break
c. set
d. dream

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