Deciphering Apartment Lingo

Finding an apartment, understanding the lingo and reading a lease should be skills that all young adults know how to do as they take on adulting responsibilities!  I begin this lesson by having students decipher some common abbreviations that I’ve seen/heard used via an interactive game.  Students then move onto deciphering actual apartment lingo, work with sample ads, read the classifieds (which may be foreign to some students) and eventually read and answer some questions pertaining to an apartment lease.  This at least gives them an idea of what’s involved when the time comes for them to actually find an apartment!


  • Glue and cut apart the Stack 10 Abbreviation Game Strips with generic abbreviations on one side and the phrase it is an abbreviation for on the back.  Create enough sets for the number of teams you have.
  • Put a stack of plastic cups in the center beside the cards (abbreviation side up)
  • Divide class into teams (# of students per team depends on class side)
  • Team #1 holds up an abbreviation and Team #2 must guess what it represents.  If correct, the team gets to take a cup.  If incorrect, the card goes on the bottom of the pile and the other teams gets to guess an abbreviation for a cup.
  • The first team to stack 10 cups in a pyramid wins!


  • Abbreviation cards
  • Plastic cups (enough for each team to have 10)
  • iPad or Electronic Devices with Cameras
  • A lot of Classified Ads from the Newspapers with Apartments for Rent
  • SKITCH App


  • Discuss that like the introductory activity, newspapers use abbreviations to provide as much information as possible about the rentals they are advertising.  This technique not only saves space, but it saves the advertiser money.
  • It’s up to you to be able to decode the messages within the ads.
  • To practice deciphering ads, place cut apart ads around the classroom.  Students must  read the ad and then decipher the abbreviations.  I simply cut apart the sample ads referenced in the Housing: Understanding Ads resource below.
  • As a class, we go over the ads and the correct deciphers are provided for the abbreviations.
  • For a grade, students must, locate 3 different apartment ads from the classified section of the newspaper.  The ads must contain at least 3-5 different abbreviations.  Students take a picture of the ads and upload them to the SKITCH App where they underline, highlight or circle the abbreviations and use the text feature to decipher/decode each of them.  Note:  If you do not have access to the SKITCH App, students could take a photo of the ads and then upload them to a document or slide and annotate them on a laptop.
  • Students then save and upload their annotated ads to Google Classroom for grading.
  • Following this activity, we move into reading a lease where students and I go through and discuss this Sample Lease.


Apartment Website Resources

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