Saturday, July 9, 2016

Plexer of the Day as a Class Opener

Do you know what a "plexer" is?  Here is the one I always put up on the first day of school:

Do you get it?

Just in case, the answer to the plexer is "Welcome Back," since it's the word "welcome" spelled backwards.

A plexer, also known as a "rebus" is a "representation of words in the form of pictures or symbols, often presented as a puzzle" according to

I used to put a puzzle up on the board every day. Kids would run into my room in the morning to see if they could be the first to get it. Even students who no longer had me would come in to see if they could figure it out. Often, I would think they would be coming in to say hello, but their eyes would go right past me to the board in a fierce stare and in deep thought until they would shout the answer in glee. There would even be some students who would look through the windows on their way to the bathroom in the middle of their other classes!

But, last year I stopped (see "why I hate plexers," below) and instead did some as "brain breaks" in our new 90-minute block sessions. Here was the first brain break I gave:

Spoiler alert, here are the answers, clockwise.

Three degrees below 0
Long time, no c
Family ties
Adding insult to injury


  • Kids walk into class immediately thinking
  • Students are exposed to a new way of thinking
  • Students who can't get them at all in the beginning of the year tend to get much better by the end--growth mindset is really cool here!
  • Lots of smiles and often groans at the corny answers
  • Students learn some old phrases that they never heard of before (i.e., what does "adding insult to injury mean"?)
  • ESOL students that are in my class learn new phrases
  • There is a sheer and genuine excitement for them. It's almost like they are in lower school again. 
  • Some students write them down to share with their family - so cute!
  • They take up time during class
  • Students who come in late or were in the bathroom at the beginning of class (or during the 5 minutes of passing before class) often distract the class by shouting out the answer as they walk in--this needs to be addressed early on
  • It's time-consuming to come up with the perfect plexers that everyone understands (not too old-fashioned) and that's hard but not too hard and easy but not too easy, haha
  • You have to remember to write it up every morning (oh they will harass you if you don't!) or every afternoon at the end of the day for the next day
  • Last year I was in two classrooms and I didn't want to write it twice
But after a year without them, I miss them. I'm going back to them. And trust me, they are super fun. But, as Sara Vanderwerf wrote about when she shared her awesome 5x5 game, if you teach at my school and never used them before, please don't start to use them now--because students come into my class already knowing the answers and it ruins the fun. 

There are SOOOO many resources out there. Google "plexers with answers" or click here for Pinterest links. I am home right now and have a ton at school that I wrote in a notebook so that I would be prepared every day, but here are some to get you through the year:
This was from but is no longer listed there.

Here are some terrific links:

Some great printables from
One from

A fun assignment is to have students make some up. This is especially good in May when you run out!

In addition, I purchased the red and blue purchased books from Dale Seymour way before online purchasing (yikes), and here they are on Amazon for you to buy.

Plexers are also really fun to give on Back to School Night. Parents love them! Find the one below, by the heart.

Plexers are great class openers. If you are looking for something to do during the last 5 minutes of class when you have some time, I blogged about the Set Daily Puzzle about two years ago. Click on the link to see the fun! Many students love this game, too.


Kim.P said...

what is #15 of the first plexer board you posted???

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you got the same way of thinking as me like I really use to believe this and also like PLEXERS
you are right that students to enter in the class with more passion for studying and start focusing on their studies and that's all a teacher want from their students.

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This is a nice tip, it would pump up their excitement and ultimately sets off their whole mood for the whole mood. I am a primary school teacher and along with that I give UK phd research proposal writing service, so I think I will look for innovative and easy words for my class then. Now I am kind of excited, I might give them the names of their favorite cartoon characters and games that way I can grab more of their attention. Thank you for sharing this!

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Fill in the blanks on a plexer, vocabulary answer, analogy, or other word problem. Word plexers are word-based puzzles in which you must describe a word or phrase without spelling it out. Wacky wordies and rebuses are two terms used to describe these puzzles, however, the latter is usually a picture-based challenge.
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