Friday, July 25, 2014

The Power of Being Punny

The Power of Being Punny
by Susan Stephenson,

Kids love puns. Okay, they may groan over Dad's puns, but they usually think their own are hilarious. Why not capitalise on this and suggest your kids/students try some activities based around puns? Observing and discussing puns is a great way for children to practise inferring, a vital comprehension skill. (If you want to find out more about inference, check out my article, Helping Kids to Infer. )

What is a pun exactly? Different people seem to mean different things by it, but one simple definition I like is "a play on words". Many puns take advantage of words that sound the same but look different e.g. a frayed knot/ afraid not. To help children understand, collaboratively brainstorm words with different spellings/meanings. Don’t forget puns can also use words that sound a lot like another e.g. her before/herbivore in “A girl said she met me at the Vegetarian Club but I had never met herbivore.”

1. Have kids research the subject of puns. At home, they could ask relatives for their favourite puns. Collect the puns they bring in, and display them in some way. This could be as simple as a small paper booklet, a display board, or kids might like to use software or an app to collect and present their information.

2. Choose some puns to re-create as comics. I like iPad apps, ToonToolkit and ComicsHead, for versatility, but many of the comic editors are useful.

3. Choose some puns to present in images with captions. Consider using online image editors like PicMonkey and Ribbet to find stickers, or for clipart.

4. Choose some puns to represent with drama, drawing, or multimedia.

As models for children:

1. Here are some images I created of puns with captions:

2. Here are some single frame pun cartoons or comics I made.

3. And here are some cartoons I created in ToonToolkit. I’ve compiled several of these cartoons into a PDF, along with blank templates for kids to use, in case that’s useful to you. I’ve shared the PDF at My Fun with Learning blog. 

Try these puns. Kids could develop them into jokes, expand on them, or use them as punch lines in a short scene:

The best way to communicate with a fish is to drop them a line.

Broken pencils are pretty much pointless.

I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.

Velcro - what a rip off!

I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.

They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Type-O.

Expansion Example: Someone realises that “portent” sounds the same as “poor tent”. Ask children to imagine a scene where the two could be used together. Portent is synonymous with a sign or warning. If two people are camping, a thunderstorm could be a portent of worse weather. And bad weather might cause a tent to collapse. This scene could be developed as an improvisation in a drama lesson, a dialogue between two people, or a short writing activity. It would also make a great cartoon:

Imagine two campers standing next to their collapsed tent during a storm. One says to the other as a lightning bolt hits the ground nearby: Gosh, Mike, do you think that’s a portent? Mike stares at the tent glumly and says: No, just a poor tent!

If you're interested in capitalising on children's love of humour, you might also like to read:

If you've enjoyed this post, or any others at The Book Chook, I'd love you to help me spread my literacy, learning and literature ideas by promoting via Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, StumbleUpon, G+ or any other way you decide. 

1 comment:

  1. Looks awesome! I love puns! I'm going to need to get a third job to pay for all the books I want...
    The Meek Moose


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