Daily Brain Teaser Halloween Edition

Get it?
Pumkin carved by David Babcock (my son)

Fun with Spoonerisms

You can have a lot of spun with foonerisms. Kids love to stead rories with spoonerisms. They are also a wood gray to get kids to look at wow hords are put together.

A spoonerism is made when the initial sounds of two words in a phrase are switched. A great way to introduce a unit on spoonerisms is to read Shel Silverstein's last book (published from his notes, after his death) Runny Babbit. As always with Silverstein, the book is immediately engaging:
So if you say, 'Let's bead a rook
That's billy as can se,'
You're talkin' Runny Babbit talk,
Just like mim and he.
From there you can have students make up their own spoonerisms to share with classmates. You might try a spoonerism class story as well. Older kids will enjoy reading and decoding stories like The Pea Little Thrigs.
One small warning: If you are doing this with older kids, be careful. They love to push the boundries. Might want to double check some of those 4-letter spoonerisms.

Daily Brain Teaser #17

Tabitha is making a potion to turn all of her friends into bats on Holloween (don't worry, the spell only lasts for an hour) She has a recipe for the potion, but she needs to triple it to have enough for all her friends. Tell how many of each ingredient she will need to triple the recipe.

Bat Potion

17 newt eyeballs
3/4 cup powdered goat hooves
1 1/3 cups sour milk
48 yak hairs
1/2 cup bat guano

Cook over a hot fire for 4 hours, stirring every 17 minutes. Serve warm.

Recipe Tripled:
_______ newt eyeballs
_______ cups powdered goat hooves
_______ cups sour milk
_______ yak hairs
_______ cups bat guano

The Creative Classroom - Let's Get Down To It

Okay, now that you've come through the door, we are ready to get down to the floor.

For the most part, the floor of a classroom doesn't get much attention. It mostly just gets walked all over until we notice that there is too much stuff all over it and realize it is time to get our students to do some cleaning up. Here are some thoughts about the neglected floor:

Rugs are Nice They make the room more cozy. They cut down on noise. They add color. Rugs on floors are essential. Rugs on carpet are great too. At the very least, you should have a rug in your book corner and in your circle area. And while we are on that subject, I think you should have an area for kids to sit on the floor, even if your students are in sixth grade. It doesn't have to be all cutesy, but chairs can get tiresome and sitting on the floor is a nice way to break up the day and teach in a more intimate way.
  • For little kids get one with the ABCs, roads (like a map), or colorful pictures. The one in the picture is an English-Spanish one.

  • Older kids might enjoy the states or a checkers/chess board (but then you need the pieces to go with it).

  • A colorful welcome mat by your outside door is nice.

  • My first year teaching I was broke, but I did find someone selling brand new carpet sample squares at a yard sale for a quarter each. So I duct-taped a bunch of them together (on the back) in an interesting pattern for our Book Nook. Worked out great!

A Place to be Messy You might not be too keen on making paper mache dinosaurs if your room is covered in wall-to-wall carpet. Hopefully, you have some floor space for these messy projects, but if you don't, make some.

  • If you have a lot of cash at your disposal, you could cover a corner of your classroom in those plastic office mats (the ones people put under wheelie chairs to keep them from damaging the carpet).

  • If you are short on cash (uh, yeah, I'm a teacher, duh!) you could buy one of those bright blue tarps and tape it down with brightly colored duct tape.

  • In a pinch, get painting tarps (those really thin plastic ones). Not great, but they are cheap and big. Good for a one time project - get 'em messy, throw 'em out.

A Final Thought If you teach little kids, take a minute to get down on the floor (you probably do this a lot a lot during the school day. Try it when your students aren't around). Look around. This is the view your students have. Make sure it is a good one. Sometimes things that look fine from up above don't look so great from down below.

Next week, we'll be exploring desks, tables, and chairs, oh my!

Classroom Cooking

Any Book Literature Questions Grades 1-3

Daily Brain Teaser #16

Mr. Tuttle eats bugs.
He especially enjoys beetles and spiders
Today he ate 23 bugs.
Altogether, the bugs he ate had 162 legs.
How many of each bug did Mr. Tuttle eat?

Spiders __________


The Creative Classroom - Come on in!

You know how some classrooms grab your attention as soon as you walk in? You can tell immediately that this is a place where kids are excited about learning, where creativity is welcomed, and where ideas are shared. You probably already have that kind of a classroom,* but you are probably also always on the lookout for new ideas, hence the inspiration for this series.

This is the first in a series about how to add creativity and critical thinking to your classroom environment - the walls, the desks, the book area, and of course the door, which is where I am starting, because that is where every one come in!

On the Outside
If you teach in a school where you are allowed to decorate the outside of your door than by all means, do! Here are some ideas to consider:
  • The picture above features kid-generated ways to say hello. The class was celebrating the 100th day of school, so there must be 100 of them! Always great to incorporate student work. I think it gives students a feeling of pride and ownership in their classroom.
  • Doing a creative project in which each child's name is displayed is a great way to start the year. My favorite is the giant puzzle - cut a large piece of white butcher paper into enough jigsaw puzzle pieces so each student has one. Students (or you if they are very young) write their names in the center and then decorate any way they wish. Then they work together to assemble the puzzle and you put it on the door. Decorating stars with names is another nice approach.
  • How about having your students decorate the letters in WELCOME TO OUR CLASS (or the room number, or teacher's name)
  • When I had a classroom, I always posted a copy of Shel Silverstein's poem, Invitation on the door (I copied the original from the book and enlarged it on the copier). I think it sets a nice tone.
On the Inside
Kids spend a lot of time looking at the door. They line up there and wait quite a bit. They probably stare at it a lot in the few minutes before the recess bell rings, so why not give them something interesting to look at?
  • I didn't know what this door was at first. Turns out is a plant cell, because Kila Young's 5th graders were studying cells. How clever is that? Consider changing your door with your units.
  • Other interesting things to look at: optical illusions, brain teasers, or inspirational quote of the day.
  • Try a magnetic white board - write a daily or weekly student poll or would you rather question and have students move magnetic name tags to their choice.
  • Another idea for that white board - divide it into areas with a different emotion in each one (basic ones like sad, happy, angry, tired etc. work well). Have each student put his/her name strip in which ever space fits his/her current emotional state. Strips can be moved as emotions change. Gives you and your students a nice little window into the emotional climate of the class, and might even help you to alter your teaching style or lesson plan to fit how kids are feeling.
Don't forget to take a peek at the rest of The Creative Classroom Series
Please feel free to share your ideas and be sure and check back tomorrow when we move on to....the floor!
*I suspect that those teachers with ultra-neat classrooms, bare walls, and desks that are lined up in neat rows are not big fans of Minds in Bloom.


Daily Brain Teaser #15

Kayla has arranged her Halloween candy into 9 rows.
The first row has 7 pieces of candy.
The second row has 6 pieces of candy.
The third row has 7, the fourth 6, and so on.
How many pieces of candy does Kayla have altogether?

__________ pieces of candy

Blog Carnivals - Take a Peek

Two terrific Blog Carnivals Today:

Carnival of Homeschooling at Consent of the Governed is celebrating its 200th edition with an amazing party of links.

Carnival of Educators has its very first carnival at Notes from a Homeschooling Mom

Daily Brain Teaser #14

Willow is 3 inches shorter than Tara.
Tara is 2 inches taller than Dawn.
Dawn is 4 inches taller than Buffy.
Willow is 62 inches tall.
How tall is each girl?

Willow _________


3 Games to Play While Waiting for the Food

You are at a restaurant waiting for the food to come and your kids are...shall we say, a little squirrely. Here are some games to keep their hands and their minds busy!

Memory Quiz
  • Make a grouping of 7 or 8 objects from the table: sugar packets, silver wear, salt shaker etc.
  • Give the other players 10 or so seconds to look at it.
  • Have them cover their eyes while you remove one object.
  • Now the players get to guess which object is missing.
  • The winner of the first round gets to be the one to choose the item to hide for the next round.
One or Two?
  • This is a game for two players.
  • Place 7 sugar packets in a row.
  • Player one may take away 1 or 2 sugar packets.
  • Player two may also take away 1 or 2 packets.
  • Continue to take turns in this manner
  • The one who is left with the last sugar packet loses.
  • The loser gets to go first in the next round.
  • Watch your kids figure out the best strategy for winning.
Extended Tic-Tac-Toe
  • Draw a large Tic-Tac-Toe board on a napkin or the back of a place mat
  • Give each player 3 markers - these could be different color sugar packets, or different flavored jams.
  • Begin playing in the usual way. When a player runs out of markers, she must move one of her markers that is on the board to another space in the grid.
  • Play until someone wins.

200 Would You Rather Questions for Kids

More Creative and Critical Thinking Activities

Daily Brain Teaser #13

Find a pair of Halloween-themed rhyming words for each clue (this game is sometimes called Hinky Pinky, Rhyme Time, or Dictionary Fictionary)

Example: sugary snack = sweet treat

  1. scary evening _________
  2. chubby flying mammal ____________
  3. cooked bread for a spirit ___________
  4. graveyard sweeper__________
  5. wealthy spell-caster_________
  6. frightening sprite ___________
  7. where monsters learn ___________
  8. ogre on a walk ___________
  9. delicious preserved dead guy __________
  10. bleeding friend __________

Heart Maps Art Project

I found this great Heart Map project at Creative Literacy. I love this project because:
  • It is such a clear, graphic representation of what is truly important to the artist.
  • There is so much room for creativity - what a great display they would make!
  • Pretty much any age child can do this. In fact, it would be neat to see the same child do this project once every year or two.
  • They are beautiful!
Literature Questions Grades 1-3

Classroom Cooking Single-Serving Recipes

Daily Brain Teaser #12

Grandpa Joe is knitting mittens for his 4 grandkids.
He can knit one mitten in 45 minutes.
He started knitting at 9:30 in the morning.
He took a 45 minute break to eat lunch.
At what time did he finish making mittens for all of his grandkids?

Creative Strategy: If it isn't Working, Stop Doing it

It seems obvious. If it doesn't work, don't keep doing it. And yet, most of us continue to do the same stupid thing over and over again, even though it doesn' t work. We all know what Einstein had to say about that one,

"The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
And, he wrote that before personal computers were part of everyday life!
So, if it isn't working (the lesson, the diet, the classroom management strategy, the nagging, the software, the job, the lifestyle, the healthcare system, whatever...) try something else. Doing something different could require some creative thought and possibly a great deal of courage, but it could also reap life changing results.
Picture above from the book The Key: and the Name of the Key is Willingness by Cheri Huber.

Daily Brain Teaser #11

Boris owns The Beet Treat Snack Shack.
A small serving of beets costs $3.
A large serving of beets costs $4.
Yesterday, Boris sold 59 servings of beets and made $200.
How many of each size did he sell?

Small_______ Large_______

Wreck This Journal

Wreck this Journal by Keri Smith is a great way to lose your inhibitions, think very creatively, and have fun. It is very much about coloring outside of the lines. Each page invites you to do something you'd never normally do to a journal like...
  • Poke holes in this page using a pencil
  • Scribble wildly, violently with reckless abandon
  • Pour, spill, drip, spit, fling your coffee here
  • Give away your favorite page. Accept the loss.Tear this page out Put it in your pocket. Put it through the wash, stick it back in.
  • Cover this page using only office supplies (picture from Camp Creek Blog )
While researching this post, I discovered that Wreck this Journal has quite the fan base. In addition to many blog entries and several blogs devoted just to the book, there are also many YouTube videos in which people have shared how they have used their copy. There is also a nice interview with Keri Smith about creativity on about creativity.

I think it would be fun to complete a Wreck that Journal on your own, but it could also be a great group project. I am thinking of buying a copy and putting it on our coffee table. That way I, my two teens, and any guests we might have could contribute.

Any List Spelling Activities

More Literature Questions

Daily Brain Teaser #10

Richie and Joanie had an adventurous night. They talked to a ghost before they killed a vampire. They ran away from a zombie after they made friends with a werewolf. They ran away from the zombie before they talked to the ghost. In what order did they encounter each monster?





Daily Brain Teaser #9

Gary the Ghost haunts the graveyard on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Gertie the Ghost haunts the graveyard every fifth day.

Today is Wednesday, October 21 and both Gary and Gertie are haunting the graveyard.

What is the next date that both ghosts will be at the graveyard?

Give it a Rest: A Creative Thinking Strategy

Sometimes the best thing you can do when you can't solve a problem is to stop trying.
The brain needs time to rest, regroup, and to put everything you have been feeding into it together in meaningful ways. The perfect solution may pop into your head when you are focused on something completely different, or you may find the solution easily when you come back to your problem after a break.

So, if you or your students are stuck try...
  • Doing something different - going outside, playing a quick game, getting a snack.
  • Physical activity. Seems to clear the head. Sweat a little
  • Talking to others. Sometimes something someone else says or does (completely unrelated to your problem) triggers an idea that can help you with your problem
  • Watching the fire, or tabletop fountain, lava lamp, or screen saver. When you are looking at one of those mesmerizing things, the brain sometimes wanders into interesting places.
  • Listening to music...better yet, dance!
  • Doing an activity that only takes part of your brain, like folding laundry, knitting, or weeding.
  • Taking a nap (okay, maybe not in the classroom!). Sometimes ideas come in dreams or when you are in that half-awake-half-asleep phase.
  • Taking a long break. I find this especially helpful with writing projects. Things that just won't fit together or flow, suddenly do when I come back to a writing project after a few days away.
Have a story to tell about how taking a break worked for you, or an idea to add? Comments always welcome.
*MindBlossom: an idea
200 Would You Rather Questions
Any List Spelling Activities

Daily Brain Teaser #8

Use the number and initial clues to complete these time-related statements.

Example: 60 m__________ in an h_________ =

60 minutes in an hour.
7 d________ in a w_________
12 m_______in a y_________
60 s_______ in a m_________
24 h_______ in a d_________
100 y______ in a c_________
52 w_______in a y_________
10 y_______ in a d_________


20 y________ in a s_________
2 w_________in a f_________
1000 y_______in a m________

Try TriBonds

mail ~ shoe ~ lunch

What do these three words have in common?
TriBonds, or as it is sometimes called, the Game of Threes is yet another way to practice higher level thinking. Finding the common link that joins three words, that on first glance seem to have nothing in common, requires analysis and deductive reasoning. Just another way to help children learn to think out of the box, and yes, box is the answer to that first TriBond.
TriBonds can be relatively easy:
carrots ~celery ~ lettuce

Or much more challenging:

car tires ~ planets ~ crops

Depending on the age of your students. Here are some ways that you can use TriBonds:

  • Play the board game. Here is the kids' version
  • Make a worksheet in which students need to give the connecting word or concept.Or use these.
  • Have students come up with their own Tribonds. I have found the best way to do this is to come up with a common word and then try to find three words to go with it. You could all of your students' TriBonds into one activity for the whole class.
  • Keep a list of TriBonds (or the cards from the game) nearby for those extra few minutes between lessons.
  • Make them up as a game in the car, while waiting for the dentist etc.
  • Have a "Daily TriBond."
Here are some (kid's) TriBonds that are all connected by a single word to get you started:
  • book ~ cell ~ number
  • head ~ marching ~ aid
  • sauce ~ seed ~ core
  • camp ~ house ~ wild
  • town ~ work ~ base
  • board ~ out ~ house
  • work ~ rocky ~ rail
  • seat ~ fan ~ leather
  • house ~ day ~ lucky
  • rose ~ soup ~ dust
  • foot ~ snow ~ room
  • seat ~ box ~ pane
  • pad ~ trap ~ field
  • tug ~ motor ~ life
  • fall ~ fresh ~ bottle
  • plug ~ ring ~ phone
  • walk ~ game ~ diving
  • up, pack, switch
  • pig ~ light ~ fountain
  • brain ~ house ~ blue
  • snow ~ drain ~ sand
  • shelf ~ phone ~ mark
  • hard ~ top ~ sun
  • business ~ playing ~ index
  • mate ~ class ~ bath
  • chocolate ~ maid ~ carton
  • sea ~ egg ~ turtle
  • swing ~ spare ~ track
  • bell ~ mat ~ knob
  • sweat ~ tail ~polo
  • ache ~ band ~ board
  • house ~ fire ~ flash
  • bed ~ computer ~ bite
  • ground ~ house ~ double
I know I should probably give the answers. But then what fun would that be?
If you like this activity, you may want to check out Wordlinks Lateral Thinking Cards

Daily Brain Teaser #7

Farmer Franny grows pumpkins. She sold 11 pumpkins on Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday, she sold a total of 23 pumpkins. She sold a total of 18 pumpkins on Tuesday and Wednesday. How many pumpkins did Farmer Franny sell on each day?

Tuesday _____________
Thursday ____________

Fun Friday - A Few Good Jokes

Q: What did the Buddhist monk say to the hot dog vendor?

A: Make me one with everything.

First Atom: I think I lost an electron.

Second Atom: Are you sure?

First Atom: I'm positive.

Q: Why do seagulls fly by the sea?

A: Because if they flew by the bay they would be bagels.

Guy walks into a bar holding a chunk of asphalt and says to the bartender, "I'll have a beer and one for the road."

A bear walks into a bar and says, "I'll have a beer..........................and some peanuts." The bartender says, "Why the big pause?"

Two muffins are baking in an oven. The first muffin says, "Whew, it sure is hot in here."
The second muffin says, "Help, a talking muffin!"

And finally, if you want your students to just stare at you with blank faces tell the reverse knock-knock joke (I never get tired of seeing kids react to this).

Teacher: Say "knock, knock"

Students: Knock, knock

Teacher: Who's there?

Students: (stare blankly, then after a pause, some of them laugh)

Daily Brain Teaser #6

Jake took a handful of M&Ms
from the candy dish on his grandma's coffee table.

He gave half of them to his

He sorted the M&Ms he had left and put one third of them back in the dish because they were red and he does not like red M&Ms.

That left Jake with 6 M&Ms.

How many M&Ms did Jake have
in his original handful?

________ M&Ms

Creative Thinking with WakerUppers

Here is just one of several activities on a WakerUpper page. Each WakerUpper page is filled with a diverse collection of engaging, hand-drawn activities, all fun and all requiring some level of higher thinking. The authors have even turned putting your name on the paper into an enriching activity. On one page you might be asked to "Write your name as if it were dripping gooey frosting," while on another you might be asked to, "Write your name as if the letters were hanging off a clothesline"

were created byGreta and Ted Rasmussen at Tin Man Press, a small family-owned company in Eugene, Oregon. They focus on developing thinking skills, and do it with an original flair that can't be found anywhere else. You can find sample pages on their website. Here is a sample from WakerUppers.

My experience with WakerUppers (and in fact everything I have used from Tin Man Press) has been very positive. Each page seems to have something for everyone - there are opportunities to draw, imagine, analyze, invent, play with words, and explore spatial skills. Kids love finding a WakerUpper on their desks first thing in the morning. Each student page includes a teacher page with answers, comments, and suggestion for extending some of the activities.

Note: I have not been paid or given any products related to this post.

Daily Brain Teaser #5

Use the ten words below to form five compound words. You must use each word one time.












2._______________ 3._______________

4._______________ 5._______________

Pass it on Creative Writing

This is a great activity for flexible thinking as kids must let go of their own ideas, to some extent, and work with their classmate's ideas. It is also great for practicing beginning, middle, end. It is a good one to try when you are between units or when your kids are a little squirrely.

What to do:
  1. Have each student choose a picture to use as a writing prompt - magazines are great for this.

  2. Instruct students to start a story about the picture. The goal is not to finish it. Give them a set period of time to write - maybe 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the grade level. Let them know a few minutes before time is up so they can finish their last sentence or thought.

  3. Now students pass their papers one student over (make sure they don't just trade with another student, they should all pass in the same direction). Instruct students to read the story start and then add to it. Make sure they know that they are contributing the middle, so they should not end the story. Set the timer - adding a few minutes for reading the story and thinking about it, and let the kids write again.

  4. One more pass in the same direction. Now students end the story.

  5. Return stories to their original authors. Allow students time to share stories.
Helpful Tips
  • Make sure each author puts his or her name on the paper.

  • For older students, consider doing five rounds instead of three.

  • It might be good to discuss the process, how it felt to add on to someone else's work, and how it felt to have your story go in a different direction than you'd planned.

  • You can also do this with art by having students begin a picture instead of a story.

  • I am not exactly sure why, but this project tends to help bond a group. I have felt that way both when I have participated and facilitated the process.
Any Book Literature Questions

More Literature Questions for Any Book

Daily Brain Teaser #4

Shelby made a big batch of peanut butter broccoli cookies. Read the clues to find out how many cookies she made.

  • The number of cookies is a 3 digit number.

  • If you add the hundreds and the tens digits together, you get the ones digit.

  • The tens digit and the ones digits are consecutive
  • If you add all the digits together you get 8.

Shelby made _____ cookies.

Comparing the Book to the Movie

Watching a movie after reading the book is a wonderful way to encourage students to think critically about how each medium presented roughly the same information.

Here are some questions to ask:
  • Think about the setting of the book. Did the setting in the movie look like you had imagined it (Good ones for this are Harry Potter, Holes, Narnia, and Where the Wild Things Are)? If not, how was it different?
  • Think about the main character. How was he/she different than you had imagined? How was he/she the same?
  • Were there any changes in characters between the book and the movie? Why do you think the people who made the movie would leave out or add a character?
  • What parts were in the book but were not in the movie? Why do you think the people who made the movie left those parts out?
  • Were there any parts that were in the movie that were not in the book? Why do you think the people that made the movie added those parts?
  • Do you think the people who made the movie did a good job of portraying the book? Why or why not?
  • Which did you enjoy more, the book or the movie? Why?

You could also:
  • Brainstorm all the ways the movie was different from the book.
  • Make a Venn Diagram using one circle for the book and one for the movie.
  • Discuss a book that has not been made into a movie - what are the challenges? What would you need to leave out? Who would you cast for each character?
  • For fun (and fluency), list all the books that you can think of that have been made into movies.
Fun Fact: Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory hated the 1971 movie version of his book so much that he refused to allow the studio to make a sequel. His widow (Dahl died in 1990) allowed Warner Bros. to make the 2005 version. She not only loved the movie, but was sure that her late husband would have, too.

What has your experience been reading a book and then watching the movie?

Daily Brain Teaser #3

How many stars are in...

Only the triangle _____

Only the circle ______ Only the rectangle _____

Both the rectangle and the circle, but not in the triangle_____

Both the circle and the triangle but not in the rectangle_____

Both the triangle and the rectangle, but not in the circle____

In all three shapes _____

Teaching Resources

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