Hink Pinks Lesson Plan for Elementary School Students

Side view of students writing on paper at desk in classroom
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In this sample lesson plan, students strengthen their literacy skills, increase their vocabulary, and cultivate critical thinking skills by solving and creating rhyming brain teasers ("hink pinks"). This plan is designed for students in grades 3 - 5. It requires one 45 minute class period.

Objectives

  • Practice creative and critical thinking 
  • Reinforce concepts of synonyms, syllables, and rhyme
  • Increase vocabulary 

Materials

  • Paper
  • Pencils 
  • A timer or stopwatch 

Lesson Introduction

  1. Begin the lesson by introducing the students to the term “hink pink.” Explain that a hink pink is a word puzzle with a two-word rhyming answer.  
  2. To get the students warmed up, write a few examples on the board. Invite the class to solve the puzzles as a group. 
    • Chubby kitten (solution: fat cat)
    • Distant vehicle (solution: far car)
    • Reading corner (solution: book nook)
    • A hat to sleep in (solution: nap cap)
  3. Describe hink pinks as a game or a group challenge, and keep the tone of the introduction lighthearted and fun. The silliness of the game will motivate even the most reluctant language arts students.

Teacher-Led Instruction

  1. Write the terms “hinky pinky” and “hinkety pinkety” on the board. 
  2. Lead the students through a syllable-counting exercise, stomping their feet or clapping their hands to mark each syllable. (The class should already be familiar with the concept of syllables, but you can review the term by reminding them that a syllable is a section of a word with one vowel sound.)
  3. Ask the students to count the number of syllables in each phrase. Once the class has reached the correct answers, explain that "hinky pinkies" have solutions with two syllables per word, and "hinkety pinketies" have three syllables per word.
  4. Write a few of these multi-syllable clues on the board. Invite the class to solve them as a group. Each time a student correctly solves a clue, ask them whether their answer is a hinky pinky or a hinkety pinkety.
    • Kooky flower (solution: crazy daisy - hinky pinky)
    • Royal dog (solution: regal beagle - hinky pinky)
    • Train engineer’s teacher (solution: conductor instructor - hinkety pinkety)

Activity

  1. Divide the students into small groups, pass out pencils and paper, and set the timer.
  2. Explain to the class that they will now have 15 minutes to invent as many hink pinks as they can. Challenge them to create at least one hinky pinky or hinkety pinkety. 
  3. When the 15 minute period has ended, invite each group to take turns sharing their hink pinks with the class. The presenting group should give the rest of the class a few moments to work together to solve each puzzle before revealing the answer.
  4. After each group's hink pinks have been solved, lead the class in a brief discussion about the process of creating the puzzles. Useful discussion questions include:
    • How did you create your hink pinks? Did you start with one word? With a rhyme?
    • What parts of speech did you use in your hink pinks? Why do some parts of speech work better than others? 
  5. The wrap-up conversation will likely include a discussion of synonyms. Review the concept by stating that synonyms are words with the same or nearly the same meaning. Explain that we create hink pink clues by thinking of synonyms for the words in our hink pink. 

Differentiation

Hink pinks can be modified to suit all ages and levels of readiness.

  • During the group activity, advanced readers may benefit from access to a thesaurus. Encourage them to use the thesaurus to create increasingly elaborate hink pinks.
  • Pre-readers can be introduced to rhymes and wordplay with visual hink pinks. Provide images that display a two-word rhyming phrase (e.g. "fat cat", "pink drink") and invite the students to name what they see, reminding them that they're trying to find a rhyme.  

Assessment

As students' literacy, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills develop, they will be capable of solving increasingly challenging hink pinks. Assess these abstract skills by hosting quick hink pink challenges on a weekly or monthly basis. Write five difficult clues on the board, set a timer for 10 minutes, and ask the students to solve the puzzles individually. 

Lesson Extensions

Tally up the number of hink pinks, hinky pinkies, and hinkety pinketies created by the class. Challenge the students to increase their hink pink score by inventing hinkety pinketies (and even hinklediddle pinklediddles – four-syllable hink pinks). 

Encourage the students to introduce hink pinks to their families. Hink pinks can be played any time – no materials necessary – so it's a great way for parents to help strengthen their child's literacy skills while enjoying quality time together.