I’ve posted before about using word puzzles in end-of-the-year activities, and I thought this would be a good time to take another look since the last days of school are right around the corner for so many teachers. One thing that I really like about word puzzles is that they are so versatile – they can be used in whole class activities, contests, fillers for spare minutes, and fun,individual assignments. The other reason why I always kept going back to word puzzles is because puzzles get kids thinking!
I’ve used a number of kinds of puzzles in various resources that I’ve made, but puzzles are also easy to make and use yourself. Here are some of my favorite kinds:
Riddles require students to make inferences, but in a fun format that kids don’t see as work! Find a few online (Inference Riddles is a link I’ve often used.), or create your own summer-themed riddles. Here is one.
What creature am I?
I live in salt water.
I can be large or tiny.
I float with the ocean currents.
I come in many colors and may be transparent.
You probably wouldn’t be happy to see me at the beach.
What creature am I? A jellyfish.
Rhyming word pairs , known as hink pinks, hinky pinkys, terse verse, and more, are fun for kids, make them think, and of course are a good review of one of the elements of poetry. There are easy to create, too. Just think of a word, and then give students one clue to the meaning of the word and one word or group of words that rhymes with it.
A quick internet search will provide you with plenty of examples to show your kids. I found this example on a site called Poetry Power.
What do you call a pig in an earthquake?
Analogies can be fun,too,especially if presented as a puzzle rather than an assignment. Here is one summer analogy.
mousetrap : cheese :: fishing pole : _______
Alliteration, another poetry element, can also easily provide some fun puzzles. Just think of two words that go together and begin with the same sound, and give students one clue and the beginning letter. Silly clues work fine here, as well with some of the other puzzles. Here’s an example.
What two “s” words might describe your shoe after you just fell in the water?
Answer: Soggy Sneaker
Unscrambling puzzles relate to spelling or content vocabulary objectives. To make an unscrambling puzzle, scramble the letters in a word and give the students one clue to the word’s meaning. Here’s one more example.
RRAIETL – This is something your family might need if you try to take too many things along on your vacation.
An ongoing contest between teams was one of my favorite used for word puzzles. Keep an ongoing scoreboard, and play a few rounds whenever the opportunity presents itself. Kids can also create their own word puzzles of each type to share with the class.
You’ll also find sets of puzzles already set up for classroom use in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
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