My school holds class meetings on the first day of school which means that many of my classes will be missing students. This activity is the perfect solution for a day like this. Each letter of the alphabet is translated into a cent amount, A = 1¢, B = 2¢, C = 3¢, ..., Z = 26¢. In groups, the students must find words that make 25¢, 50¢ or $1 (Math Practice 2). I do insist that the words aren't proper nouns or non-English words. Whichever group has the most "money" at the end of the period receives a prize.
I put the students into groups of three or four using the numbers on cards. This activity is a great way to set the expectation that students will be expected to work in groups and deal with tasks that do not have one obvious answer (Math Practice 1).
Possible extensions could include limiting the times each letter is used or finding a word to represent each number.