A rebus is a coded message using pictures, numbers and letters to replace words. Because one must use word position, direction, size, color and sound to decode the message, rebuses help hone the use of logic, phonics and decoding skills. Rebuses provide visual clues to beginning readers to make it easier to understand a story, and they have sometimes been used as tie-breakers in game shows.

Select a short phrase from a dictionary, thesaurus, newspaper or magazine. Write in on a sheet of scrap paper.

Separate each word into syllables.Choose magazine pictures to replace at least half the words or syllables. For example, if your message is "Hopping down the bunny trail," you can replace the word "bunny" with a picture of a rabbit, and the word "trail" with a picture of a path through the woods.

Cut out the pictures and glue them in place on the white paper. Leave space to write the remaining words, but do not add them yet.

Examine the remaining words for any directional words, such as up, down, before, after, left or right. "Hopping down" can be written so that the word "hopping" is vertical, with the "h" at the bottom and the "g" on top.

Cut letters from the newspaper and glue them in the correct positions to make as many of the words as you can before writing in any remaining words you need.

Exchange puzzles with a friend and see how long it takes to solve them.

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