Doing homework:

By Shaina Davis

If you’re like me, a decent portion of the energy you spend “doing homework” is actually spent finding ways to avoid it. It’s not an ideal situation, of course, but with a hectic schedule, the occasional break from studying can be more of a necessity than a luxury. There are hundreds of ways to procrastinate online – but if FML hasn’t been updated recently, and none of your friends are on Facebook, what’s an overworked student to do? If you can afford to stop working for a certain amount of time, you don’t want to spend that time searching in vain for interesting diversions. So the next time you really need to spend half an hour ignoring the rest of that big reading assignment, check out some of these fun options.Are you a language person? If so, check out Formerly known as WeBoggle, WordsPlay is an online game where players are given a grid of letters and try to form as many words as they can from combinations of adjacent letters within a set time limit. Both four-by-four and five-by-five grids are available, and you can play individually or join a team of other players. Longer words earn more points, and top-ranking players and teams can rack up hundreds of points in a good round; at the end of each round, the website will display a list of all the possible words, and show you which ones you found, which ones other people found, and which ones nobody found. Just beware of getting too hooked – if you’re a word geek, WordsPlay can be a dangerous game.

If you’re looking for something a bit less competitive, an impressive array of cute and relaxing games can be found at The site currently hosts 60 different flash games, and the owner creates new ones every once in a while. The games aren’t particularly intellectual, requiring players to perform simpler tasks like avoiding obstacles, hitting targets, and moving their characters through complicated landscapes. The animation is simple and adorable, and all the games are accompanied by cheery music, making them a good choice for a calming mid-homework break. Some personal favorites are “A Daily Cup of Tea,” where players guide two mice through a hazardous journey to collect sugar cubes for their tea; “These Little Pigs,” which requires players to build a tower of pigs one pig at a time, angling the tower to collect cupcakes for bonus points; and “Wake Up Calls,” where players must wake as many sleeping butterflies as possible by hitting them with well-aimed seeds. If those don’t sound to your taste, though, try a few others. Orisinal has something for everyone.

Can you think outside the box? If you can, try out the Impossible Quiz. Hosted on many different websites (a quick Google search will turn up several versions), the Impossible Quiz poses ridiculous multiple-choice questions that can only be answered by thinking with the unconventional logic of the game’s creator. The first five questions involve puns, mirror writing, complete non sequiturs, and a good memory of previous questions. Players earn a Skip token every ten questions, and most questions can be skipped. Watch out: not all the correct answers are located in the designated answer boxes, and some questions are time-sensitive. See how far you get on the first try!

If you’re like most Mac students, you want to be involved in making the world a better place. Did you know you can work on that goal from the comfort of your own desk? Several websites host simple games for visitors to play, and promise to donate a certain amount of money or goods for each correct answer. is a simple vocabulary game where correct answers win ten grains of rice that are donated through the UN World Food Program. The game gives players a word, then presents them with four choices, asking them to pick the choice that is closest in meaning to the target word. The more times a player answers correctly, the harder the words get. For a similar game with a slightly different format, visit, which provides players with crossword-puzzle-like clues and asks them to choose from four words that could be answers. Players can choose from several different charities, so correct answers can go towards grains of wheat, ounces of water, minutes of education or square inches of rainforest. As the difficulty increases, the potential answers appear with increasing numbers of hidden letters, making players figure out what the options really say before they make their selection. Although their premises are simple, both Freerice and Charitii are surprisingly challenging, and definitely entertaining.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from getting their work done on time, of course, but most people agree that carefully budgeting your time is an essential part of academic success. With the kind of workload most Macalester students face each night, a few minutes of goofing-off can go a long way toward making a seemingly endless evening of homework more bearable. Knowing of a particular diversion you like can make it easier for you to have more fun in the same amount of time, and let you get back to work that much more refreshed.