You Can Say That Again!: Text Compression

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This activity helps students learn how computers "compress" text by identifying repeating patterns of letters, words, and phrases. Students use poems or nursery rhymes as their source text, draw boxes around repeating parts, and use arrows to point to earlier parts of the text that can be used to "uncompress" the text. The boxes and arrows are then related to the numbers that computers use in compression. An extension has students try compressing a much longer story, "The Three Little Pigs."

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan

English, French, Italian

Materials List (per student)

  • OHP transparency made from OHP Master: You can say that again! (page 25)
  • Worksheet Activity: You can say that again! (page 26)
  • Worksheet Activity: Extras for experts (page 27)
  • Worksheet Activity: Short and sweet (page 28)
  • Worksheet Activity: Extras for real experts (page 29)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Computing
      • Computer Science
    • Engineering
      • Computer Engineering
  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
      • Patterns
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Representation
    • Representation

Informal Categories

  • Computers


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Bell, Tim ; Witten, Ian ; Fellows, Mike ; Adams, Robyn ; McKenzie, Jane


Funding Sources:

  • Brian Mason Scientific and Technical Trust
  • Google Inc.