Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Riddles and Words

Dawn Capes
Bay District Schools


What color is a jaundiced pig? Hamber, of course! Using an exciting vocabulary game in which students create riddles and answers, this lesson explores word choice, paraphrasing, and summarizing.


The student uses responsive listening skills, including paraphrasing, summarizing, and asking questions for elaboration and clarification.


-Student Handout (See associated file)
-White board or chalkboard or chart paper
-Writing instrument


1. Copy student handout, one per student.
2. Make sure you understand how the game is played.
3. Look at the handout of Additional Examples and see if you want to continue the game!


1. Ask students the following riddles:
What color is a jaundiced pig? (Answer: Hamber)
What do you call a pig that can write with all of its feet? (Answer: Hambidextrous) What is a pig in love? (Answer: Hamorous)

2. Now ask students if they know the root words of these riddle answers. (Answers: Amber, ambidextrous, amorous) If students don’t know, then have another student or the teacher explain.

3. Ask: Is understanding of the words necessary in order to understand the solution to the riddle? Yes! Without knowledge of the vocabulary, then the riddle is much more complicated.

4. Tell students: The same is true in writing, reading, and basic communication. In order to understand the speaker, writer, or communicator, the words being used must be known. To solve this problem, it becomes necessary to expand our vocabulary.

5. Explain that a fun way to expand vocabulary is to play games.

6. Pass out student handout. Go over the scoring criteria with students so they know how their work is being assessed. (See Assessment.)

7. Then, tell students that they will need to pay close attention to the directions because a part of their assessment is that they must paraphrase and summarize how the game is played for another student. Explain to students what paraphrasing and summarizing mean. The directions are NOT written down anywhere because they have to listen. They will share their riddle (question) with the class at the end.

8. Here are the directions to orally share with students: First give students a word. (The word used for example purposes will be PIG. Other word game examples are included in the associated file.)

9. Ask students to give as many different words (synonyms or associated words) for PIG as possible (bacon, pork, ham, etc.). Allow time for a few examples to be shared. List all of these on the board.

10. Then, choose one of the words with which to work. Choose one with a simple ending; one syllable is best. (As you play the game, you’ll begin to instantly clue into words that will be easily used in the game.) For this example, we will use the word HAM.

11. Demonstrate to students: Now, remove the “H” from HAM. We are left with AM.

12. On students’ handout, have them write five words that begin with the letters AM (that begin with the AM sound in HAM). Encourage them to come up with five new words and not to use the three words from the riddles at the beginning of the lesson.

13. Allow students to use a dictionary. Part of the game is that they expand their vocabulary.

14. Once students have come up with five (or four, or three) words that begin with AM, ask them to share them orally and then have them add the H back in front of it. (Example: Amble becomes Hamble)

15. Finally, students need to look over their list of their created words and come up with a riddle in which one of their words is the answer. Students may need a few minutes, as they will have to study the definition of the word and come up with an appropriate “Pig” riddle.

16. Allow students time to share their riddles and answers. By sharing the riddles, they are again expanding their vocabulary- this time by listening to other riddles and answers.

17. Finally, have students paraphrase and summarize the directions for the game on their student handouts. The back of the paper can be used if necessary.

18. Once students have the initial concept, they can use the game as a time-filler. Each time, they will be expanding their vocabulary and creativity.


Students will be formatively assessed on their ability to paraphrase and summarize the directions for the game. Read the students’ written work and assess for clarity and validity of the directions for playing the game. Here is a typical set of directions:

1. Choose a word and list ten words that are synonyms or associated with the word you chose.

2. Choose one of the words you listed, a one-syllable word works best.

3. Take off the first letter and then list three or four words that begin with the same sound as the word whose first letter was just removed. (Example: Ham = am =ambidexterous)

4. Add the first letter (that had been removed) back on to make a nonsense word. (Hambidexterous)

5. Think of a clue to a riddle that will yield your nonsense word as the answer. ( A pig that can use all four feet is ?? Hambidexterous.)

Additionally, when students ask questions (riddles,) they will show that they have listened to the rules of the game because their riddles and answers demonstrate understanding. (LA.C.1.3.4).

Effective Communicators are able to convey understanding of the vocabulary by using the correct terminology in their riddles.


1. The game can be played whenever there is free time in the classroom. As students play, they will begin looking for words that they can use to “stump” their teacher and classmates.
2. Have students suggest vocabulary words to use for additional games.
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