In 1953 a man named Roger Price published a book he titled Droodles. While this author/illustrator/comedian and his book may not ring any bells nowadays, consider this: he is also the co-inventor of the ever-popular Mad Libs.
But, lest we forget, today is Wednesday, and Wednesday's for Kids, so I'll skip the history lesson (though we might add "grammar" in the case of the Mad Libs). Instead, here are a couple things to do with your kids (your own if you're a parent; somebody else's if you're a relative, babysitter, or teacher), both directly related to these two great creations, and both of which I've used in my classroom to great effect.
The already-written Mad Libs are fine (and they're free all over the internet, though most frequently called something else in the name of copyright laws; just Google "mad libs"), if somewhat hit and miss for the humor element; and if you've spent any time with these things on road trips or in classrooms, I'm sure you'll agree: sometimes they're funny, sometimes they just don't work. However, I've found something that nearly always works to make a thing once less successful now more successful: PERSONALIZE IT, because, as we all know, kids--not to mention most adults and every flippin' teenager on the planet--like things better when they're about them!
So this is what you do (and all the easier if you happen to blog and write about your family or classroom, in which case the first step is just a matter of cut&paste): get a story about your kids. Read it to them in advance, so they know what's going on (optional and dependent upon the age and intelligence of your children), then shoot the thing full of holes. Finally, have them fill it back in--you know, just like a real Mad Lib.
FOR EXAMPLE, STEP 1:
AT HOME WITH AUNT DIANNA
Last night Mom and Grandma went to a church meeting. Their departure could only mean two things: One, dad would let the kids watch more television and play more video games than was good for them, and two, Aunt Dianna would come over to hang out, eat food, and do her math homework.
More than just the usual, Aunt Dianna spent most of the time actually listening to her iPod, her headphones stuck deep inside her ears. But Dianna’s always really nice. She pretended to listen carefully every time Rebekah came bouncing over to show off her three favorite stuffed animals: Piggy, Lamby, and Anne and tell her everything about their evening activities. Meanwhile, Jacob played Super Mario Brothers on the WII, even though the controllers’ batteries were dying.
When Dianna was finally done with her homework and Jacob’s time was finally over for playing the WII and after Rebekah had finished giving all her animals a bath, feeding them their dinner, and putting them to bed, they turned on a movie: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The three kids (including the teenager) loved the movie, which is all about Dave, a nerdy physics student from New York, who is destined to become a very important sorcerer. He is discovered by Balthazar Blake, an ancient wizard and apprentice of the famous Merlin. And what Dave’s destiny? To save the world from an evil sorceress, Morgana le Fay, who’s been trapped for a thousand years or more in a nesting doll.
Sometime in the middle of the movie, Dad interrupted the peace and quiet to announce bath time. Surprisingly, Jacob and Rebekah agreed without fighting, washed themselves with lightning speed, and were soon back to finish the movie. Rebekah snuggled with Aunt Dianna, Jacob jumped around the room pretending to be some crazy mix of a sorcerer and Spiderman, and Dianna kept listening to her ipod.
Dad worked on his blog.
(Obviously, it doesn't have to be anything fancy.)
AND STEP 2:
AT HOME WITH AUNT [silly name]
Last night Mom and Grandma went to a [destination]. Their [noun] could only mean two things: One, dad would let the kids watch more [noun] and [verb] more video [plural noun] than was [adjective] for them, and two, Aunt [silly name] would come over to [verb], [verb] food, and [verb] her [adjective] homework.
More than just the [usual], Aunt [silly name] spent most of the time actually [verb ending in –ing] to her [noun], her [plural noun] stuck deep inside her [body part]. But [silly name]’s always really [adjective]. She pretended to [verb] carefully every time Rebekah came [verb ending in –ing] over to show off her three favorite [adjective] [plural noun]: Piggy, Lamby, and Anne and tell her everything about their evening [plural noun]. Meanwhile, Jacob played Super Mario [plural noun] on the WII, even though the controllers’ batteries were [verb ending in –ing].
When [silly name] was finally done with her [noun] and Jacob’s [noun] was finally over for [verb ending in –ing] the WII and after Rebekah had finished giving all her [plural noun] a [noun], [verb ending in –ing] them their [noun], and putting them to [noun], they turned on a movie: The Sorcerer’s [noun]. The three [plural noun] (including the [adjective] teenager) loved the movie, which is all about [boy’s name], a [adjective] physics student from [city], who is destined to become a [adverb] [adjective] [noun]. He is [past tense verb] by Balthazar [noun starting with B], an [adjective] wizard and [noun] of the [adjective] Merlin. And what [boy’s name repeated] Dave’s [noun]? To [verb] [big place] from an [afjective] sorceress, Morgana le [silly name], who’s been trapped for [number] years or more in a [adjective] doll.
Sometime in the middle of the [noun], [adjective] [adjective] Dad [past tense verb] the peace and [noun] to announce [noun] time. [adverb], Jacob and Rebekah agreed without [verb ending in –ing], [past tense verb] themselves with lightning [noun], and were [adverb] back to [verb] the movie. Rebekah [verb] with Aunt [silly name], Jacob [past tense verb] around the room [verb ending in –ing] to be some [adjective] mix of a sorcerer and Spider[noun], and [silly name] kept listening to her [noun].
Dad worked on his blog.
Droodles are a cross between doodles and riddles. But forget the riddle part. Imagine you’re doodling on a cocktail napkin, and come up with something like this:
By itself, this is naught be a doodle. Ask the audience to identify what it is, and suddenly *POW* it's a Droodle. Draw a bunch of these on squares of paper and have your kids come up with as many possible titles as possible. What do you think this one is?
If you can't find the book, Droodles, or don't feel like waiting for Amazon to deliver it, Google around. There are tons of them online to offer inspiration for your own (all the official Droodles are copyrighted; the two above are mine--use 'em if you want 'em).