Monday, March 4, 2013

Funny Fridays

Dear Tabby:

I am a teacher with an embarrassing problem! My students are BORED. In fact, I can't even keep myself awake! What can I do to liven things up?


No Fun Frances

Dear No Fun:

I have just the trick! I suggest adding a little humor into your classroom, and one way to do that is to introduce Funny Fridays into your curriculum. Use the time at the end of the day on Friday to have kids vote for their favorite funny book. They can come up with a name for their funny book award and design a sticker and a trophy for it. Awards often have mission statements, so this, too, could be another activity. Here's my quick list of ideas, but I bet you can think of more:

* start your Funny Fridays with different students telling a new joke each week, or ask them to read a funny poem out loud to the class

* take pictures of students making funny faces while reading their favorite funny books and post those pictures to a bulletin board

* buy glasses with fake noses on them and ask everyone to wear them during Funny Fridays

* create a mascot--like a puppet or a stuffed animal

* put on an outrageous hat or shoes

* play a funny youtube video on your Smart Board

* divide the class into teams and have them debate about which book should win the award

 * write a letter to your favorite funny author or illustrator

* create a blog for Funny Fridays with jokes, drawings, and author interviews

* create a Reader's Theater for your favorite funny books

* put on a quiz show with facts about their favorite books

* write and illustrate joke books

You can also discuss humor techniques that authors use when writing their funny books.

Here they are:


Tall tales, like The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake and Adam Rex, use similes and metaphors to accentuate the situation. Stories with silly and exaggerated characters, like The Stupids, by Harry Allard, are also in this category.

 The main character reacts in a mild and amusing way despite the crazy scene developing around him. When a group of real vampires show up at Jonathan’s house in the book Wempires, by Daniel Pinkwater, Jonathan’s mother simply complains that they are making a mess of her kitchen.

 This uses illogical pairings, in which the real world rubs up against a fantasy world, as in Doreen Cronin’s Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type. A pigeon who wants to drive a bus is another example of incongruity.

Potty humor falls into this category. The book Chicken Butt, by Erica Perl and Henry Cole, is an excellent example of what kids (and adults!) find funny. Walter the Farting Dog also falls into this category.

The Wolf in The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieskza has all sorts of nasty and irreverent things to say about those poor little porkers.

Word play involves the clever use of puns and funny names. In Lisa Wheeler’s book Boogie Knights, the knights all have fun names, like Sir Ender (who just gives in) the lone Sir Vivor, and Sir Loin, who cries out, “our honor is at stake!”

EMBARRASSING PREDICAMENTS: Poor Officer Buckle doesn’t know what his dog Gloria is doing behind his back in Peggy Rathman’s Officer Buckle and Gloria. Tales of woe, like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst, is another example of humor at the expense of someone else’s misfortune.

ANTICIPATION: In Trinka Hakes Noble’s The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate The Wash, readers are lured into the story backwards. They know that eventually Jimmy’s boa will eat someone’s wash in the story, and the fun is seeing how the ordinary events lead up to such disastrous results.

SURPRISE: If the reader is set up for one thing, it can be especially funny when something else happens. In The Monster at the End of this Book, by Jon Stone, Grover begs readers not to turn the page or they’ll be sorry. At the end of the book they find…well, you’ll just have to see, now, won’t you?

Readers will quickly see why one monkey is quite enough in Jackie French Koller’s book, One Monkey Too Many. These imps get into all sorts of trouble, including falling out of canoes and driving golf carts off of cliffs.  The slapstick humor is accentuated by Lynn Munsinger’s wacky illustrations. 

Most humorous books use more than one technique. See how many techniques you can find in these books! It’s a fun party game.

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