I would select two words composed of the same number of letters and see how quickly I could transform them from one to the other.
To make it more fun normally the words would be opposite, or funny. For example, "How many steps does it take to get from wheat-bread?"
As you can see, the rules are simple. You change one letter of the word, but it has to create a word.
I can change wheat-cheat, but not wheat-wheap.
I don't remember how I learned this, but in high school I found out it was actually a word puzzle invented by Lewis Carroll!
I rarely use this activity as an "assignment" but I do introduce and use it for fast finishers.
|Can you spot the error in this graphic? Keep reading to see what I'd do|
For example, I may write: Cat-Dog
One student may submit: Cat-Hat-Hot-Dot-Dog 5 links
And another student submits Cat-Cot-Dot-Dog 4 links
The "winner" is the person who completes it with the fewest changes. In this case the second person wins.
To add a vocabulary aspect, I have the students define and write a sentence with each word. Their submission is not valid if it includes a non word, or a fake definition. (update: 6/12) I am relatively lenient with the definition. As you can see in the example above, the student defined bare incorrectly.
Bare should mean naked or uncovered. They mixed it up with bear to carry or hold. However, the sentence could be seen as correct: the right to "naked" or not-immensely altered weapons. Most importantly to me, it is an "academic" sentence that means they probably paid attention in a Social Studies class (where one of the teachers at my school discusses how some people argue that people should have the right to bare weapons, but not AK47s). As a result, I would probably leave a short note here, but not disqualify them. However, you can be as strict as you need to be. Many teachers would not allow that word to pass leave a note about homophones and declare the winner a different student.Which hopefully means student one will have learned a valuable distinction!
Whenever a student finishes their work early they can tinker with their word chain to see if they can cut a step out or try a different approach to get a smaller number.
Here's a copy of the worksheet in case you'd like to use this with your class. This is free for the next 5 days! After June 15th, the price will be adjusted.