Three of a Kind: A Bell-Ringer Game

How do you help teens settle in after the chaos of passing period?
How do you build enthusiasm for learning and strengthen the classroom community?
How do you cram dozens of learning standards into one class period’s worth of work?
How do you take/file attendance within the first five minutes of each new class?

There’s a lot to gain in the first five-to-ten minutes of class when you launch each day with a specific bell-ringer task. 

The latest edition to this classroom routine is Three of a Kind, a word-play game designed for grades 7 to 10. 

How to play:
On the first slide, students are given three words. They need to find a single word that turns all three into a new word or phrase. On each question slide, students have three puzzles to solve. Some are easier than others, so students at different levels can feel successful.

The next slide has an eye-catching photo and the answers to all three puzzles: 

Three of a Kind is a complement to my popular brain teaser slide sets. It’s a game designed to help develop vocabulary and inspire classroom conversations about some of the lesser-know answers. 

Want to add more bell-ringers to your routine? A sample week might look like this:
M.U.G. Shot Monday (mechanics/usage/grammar proofreading practice)
Lit. Term Tuesday (45 literary devices tucked into 19 mini-lessons)
Words on Wednesday (SAT-level vocabulary builders)
Three of a Kind Thursday (word-play to build vocabulary)
SSR Friday (reading stamina and enthusiasm for books + time for the teacher to offer differentiated student support)

There are lots of other options, too:
Masterpiece Monday or Fine Art Friday (analysis skills practice)
• Test Prep Tuesday (use released questions from College Board or your state’s dept. of ed.)
Right Word Wednesday (homophone awareness with commonly confused words)
This:That (This is to That) Thursday (word relationships/logic using analogies)
Thursday Thinker (brain teasers to promote logic, word sense, and lateral thinking)
Life Lessons from Lit. (connect literature to students’ lives through quickwrites)
This Day in Arts & Letters (a daily calendar of fun facts/conversation starters – a good choice for end-of-class topics to chat about while students pack up)

Have you experienced the power of bell-ringers? Share your favorite ones in the “leave a reply” section below!

2 thoughts on “Three of a Kind: A Bell-Ringer Game

  1. Amanda Dexter says:

    Perhaps you’ve explained this elsewhere so I apologize, but do you have your students do bellringers on a separate piece of paper that they turn in? Or in their notebooks? How often do you check them and do you give any grades for them?

  2. Great questions, Amanda! The approach varies per bell-ringer. For Three of a Kind, we would use those slides as game-play where students work in their Quarter Trios and write their answers on one of our homemade whiteboards, like these:

    For core academic work, I do require that students take notes, which they can keep in a spiral or binder. The MUG Shots, Lit. Terms, and Words (vocab.) are all a major part of the end-of-semester final exam, so students will need their notes to prepare for that exam. I don’t collect Lit. Term Tuesday or Words on Wed. notes, but I do collect MUG Shot Monday notes every three weeks and score students on their accuracy. I give them three points per sentence and take off a point for each error they forget to mark. I model this a bit better in this video:

    Give that a look and let me know what other questions pop up. I always like to talk shop! 🙂

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