So I just returned from a fabulous Girl’s Weekend to the Big Apple where we spent a blissful three days shopping, sightseeing, and laughing! We laughed at ourselves trying on some ridiculous pieces of clothing (insert crazy long-sleeved leather dresses)…we laughed off having to walk 30+ blocks to dinner in heels because there was not a single available taxi during Friday night rush hour…we laughed at the clever writing in “Wicked”…we laughed at how amateur we are at taking selfies (a surprisingly hard skill to conquer!)…we laughed at stories shared through a friendship of 19 years. Laughter truly is the best medicine. Humor is such a critical piece in our connection with others around us. Humor can be dry, overt, witty, in-your-face, inappropriate, ironic, and memorable. It helps us engage with story characters and relate to the world around us. Humor is, above all, a complex little creature and it is a very hard concept for my kiddos to grasp. I like to use props like mustaches, silly costumes, and puppets. Seriously, how much fun are mustaches?!?!? My son actually took these in to his class this year on his birthday instead of sugar-loaded food…they were such a hit! If you welcome your students to class with one of these furry things stuck to your upper lip, you are sure to get some laughs out of even your toughest customers! Every year I dress up for “speak like a pirate day”. I have plenty of eye patches, bandannas, and gold doubloons for any matey who wants to join in. It’s fun to not take yourself so seriously and be silly with the students. Fun=learning in my book!
And speaking of “speak like a pirate day”… it is coming up on Friday, September 19, 2014. I couldn’t be more excited!! I spend two weeks with this unit so that I can teach, explore, and expand vocabulary and concepts. One of the projects we create is a pirate joke book. I usually have to spend some time teaching the technique to joke telling as well as the humor in the punch lines. I love it when the kids start to understand jokes and can create their own to add to their joke book.
On the actual day, we walk around campus and share our joke book or words from our treasure map. They think it is so funny when adults use the pirate lingo with them. Our fabulous secretaries will tease them about having to “walk the plank” if they don’t laugh loud enough at their jokes 🙂
And don’t feel like you have to limit your pirate jokes to September! I was inspired by “J”oke day during our end-of-year ABC countdown. As you can read about here, we revisited the pirate jokes, sharing them with friends, teachers, and staff around school. April Fool’s Day is another great day to work on joke telling. National Geographic for Kids has some cute joke books (with stellar photography). It always helps me to have one on hand because my memory for funny jokes is, well, less than impressive.
My language lessons have a heavy concentration on multiple meaning words. It’s really hard to understand the subtlety in jokes and the meaning in many reading passages without knowing the complex layers of vocabulary. My ultimate goal is for children to understand and participate in the world around them and to do this they must acquire word, social, academic, and world knowledge. It’s kind of like peeling away all the layers of an onion. One good starting point is to enrich vocabulary.
I use the general set (pictured above) at the beginning of the year to teach the concept. I then use some thematic content throughout the year to reinforce the skill, establish vocabulary, and introduce new words.
I like using thematic content to practice the skill because there is a meaningful connection for the child to either their classwork or daily life (and sometimes both). I use the “I love my Earth Multiple Meaning Words” FREEBIE set around Earth Day, however you could incorporate it into many different parts of the year.
I also loooove the play on words in Laurie Keller’s story Do Unto Otters. The illustrations, story, and social skills presented are fantastic! I have a lot of fun with this story each year…talk about laughter within the therapy room!!
Fractured fairy tales are another great source when looking for humor in books. You also have many opportunities to make comparisons between stories or characters and also to open up imaginations to create personal versions. Using scripts from Reader’s Theater is another great option. This helps my students with their various goals (articulation, social skills, fluency, vocabulary) while getting a chance to be silly. I particularly like the set that includes fractured fairy tales (Goldilocks and the Three Bullfrogs, for example). My kiddos really enjoy the humor in these. Sometimes using voices or puppets is a fun way to break the ice. Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein is a great book to try for this. I have found that my students are more willing to initially step out of their comfort zone and try silly voices while they are within my familiar space instead of front and center in their classroom.
During our pirate unit, there are many stories that make us laugh including Pirates Go To School by Corrine Demas and How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and David Shannon. My articulation kiddos get a ton of practice with their target sounds (especially if they are learning “arrrgh!”).
There is nothing better than finding humor within your own day. This little gem always makes me chuckle and brings a little more sunshine into my day. What an awesome father…reminds me of all the crazy things mine
did does for me!
When it comes to unwinding from a long day and finding some laughter for myself, there is no better source for me than Jimmy Fallon and his humor on The Tonight Show. Watching his show each night helps me to relax, refresh, and refocus my energy for the new day ahead.
I’d love to hear ways that you incorporate humor into your therapy/class room.