Posted by: jockmackenzie | January 9, 2012

Exercising the Mind – 30 seconds of Word Association

Thanks to ciker.com for the images

A simple idea – but it’s worked for me. Ask your class for one word. Suppose they say Christmas. As you stand at the front of the room, tell them you will use the given word to begin a Word Association exercise, a type of exercise for the mind similar to exercising in the gym.

Here’s how it would work for me: I’d say Christmas makes me think of presents which makes me think of ribbon which makes me think of candy which makes me think of sweets which makes me think of sugar which makes me think of coffee which makes me think of cup which makes me think of dishwasher which makes me think of soap which makes me think of shower which makes me think of rain which makes me think of mud which makes me think of rubber boots which makes me think of socks which makes me think of my dresser drawer which makes me think of dust bunnies . . .

When I’m done, I often go back and explain some of the crazier leaps that have occurred e.g. I don’t have dust bunnies in my sock drawer but the vacuum doesn’t always find its way beneath the dresser so there I do find dust bunnies, even dust grizzlies.

The next step is to set the students to work for 30 seconds. Because I have found this type of exercise to be helpful in gathering ideas, in unblocking the uncreative mind, and in having a bit of fun, I ask the students to delegate a page in their binders for these 30 second challenges. This also allows them to see if they get better over time. And off we go for 30 seconds.

When time allows, a bit of sharing can be interesting. Sometimes it’s fun to buddy up and play a kind of Word Association Ping Pong – you say a word, then I say a word. On other occasions, I ask the kids to do the Word Association thing for 30 seconds using only tic marks to note how many words they can think of. At the end, they are asked to jot down any particularly memorable words.

Rocket science? Hardly. But as we know, students are blessed with different talents. Some of our kids don’t think they can think. This exercise often surprises them. Frequently, those who have deemed themselves to be shining with less wattage have shone through.


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