# 5-Minute Fillers: Spelling, Crtitical Thinking, and More

Volume 29

Connect the Cups
Builds critical thinking and analytical skills

You will need to prepare in advance a Styrofoam cup for each pair of students in your class. Use a small sharp blade to cut the cups in half along the horizontal. Some cuts might be jagged in shape, some more rounded. Some cuts might be high and some low. Some cuts might be combinations of different kinds of cuts. Give each student one half of a cup. Then give students five minutes to find the person who holds the other half of their cup. Cup halves must fit together perfectly!

Spelling-as-a-Team Game
Builds spelling 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 be any age other than the one you are right now? Would you want to be younger? Older? What age would you be and why?

Organize students into groups, and provide each group with a set of alphabet cards, one card per letter. Students will divide the alphabet cards among themselves. Tell students you will call out a spelling word and a point value for that word (based on its difficulty). When the word is called the groups go to work to spell the word. The student who holds the card that represents the first letter in the word must call out the letter and place it on the desk in front of his or her group members. Then the person who holds the second letter does the same thing Play continues until the word is spelled.

Note: If a letter is repeated in a word, the student who held that letter must call out that letter again. Players can leave a space to represent to place where that letter belongs.

The first group to correctly spell the word (all cards must be on the desk in order) earns the points. At the end of the game, the group with the most points wins the game.

On the Spot!
Builds memory and pattern recognition skills

Prepare in advance a work sheet that has three rows of dot patterns set up like the ones below:

 O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O

You will probably be able to fit five or six groups of the dot patterns above on a work sheet. Once printed, cut the work sheet into strips and hand each student a strip that has three rows of the five repeated patterns.

To make this activity more challenging for older students, create more difficult patterns.

You will also need to have five sheets that reproduce in large size one of the dot patterns above. Color a series of the dots in each of those large patterns. For example, you might color the dots where each X appears below:

O X X O
X O O O
O O X X

Now you are ready to show the first pattern. Display the pattern for 15 seconds. Then put the pattern away where students cannot see it and ask them to replicate the pattern by coloring in each of the colored dots on the first group of dots on their work sheet. Repeat the activity five times by sharing five different colored dot patterns for students to study. Then have students exchange papers with a classmate, display the five large dot patterns on the board, and let each student correct their classmate's work. How many students were able to replicate all five patterns from memory?

Then have students return papers to their owners and provide a second, and then a third, row of patterns to color.

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.
• TEMP RUT
• ROBOT MEN
• SO A SNOB
• CAT LINER

Answers: trumpet, trombone, bassoon, and clarinet are all musical instruments

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®