Remember how in school, when the teachers really needed a break, they’d show a movie that was loosely related to the curriculum? Yeah, I pulled that one this afternoon, sitting my kids down in front of Charlotte’s Web (the live-action one from 2006,) which happens to be the novel that R and N are using for their novel study. But that was after I had totally rocked this morning’s writing lesson, so it’s not like I was slacking off—unlike that high-school teacher who played us the entire soundtrack of the Who’s Tommy every class for a couple of weeks running (at least that gave me time to finish my other homework.)
I never thought I’d see the day when Cards Against Humanity would work as an elementary-school lesson plan… but here we are.
All of last week, the writing assignment was to hunt for words in all kinds of places, and write them all down in those neat little notebooks I got the kids. I encouraged them to find words on board games; N wandered around our library picking random words from the spines of books; I handed R an LLBean catalogue, a charity appeal newsletter, and a copy of Wood magazine; K chose words from the songs on her Spotify playlist. Each of us copied our own words onto tiny cards last Friday.
Today I called the kids together for writing, and asked them to bring their word cards to the table. What followed was forty-five minutes of hilarity.
“We’re going to play with words today,” I began, “and we’ll start with insults. Has anybody ever seen the Shakespearian Insult Generator?”
Blank stares and head shakes all around.
“Nevermind. We’re going to use our words to come up with funny insults that sound great but mean nothing. I’ll go first… that guy is such an Iffy Fruiterer.”
They got into the spirit right away. K offered Depleted cellphone charger, and R came up with a few good ones that I forgot to write down. N won, hands down, with Mangled marshmallow mess.
Then I broke out our copy of Cards Against Humanity: Family Edition. We all dug into our own word pools to fill in the blanks.
“Mom? You have to come pick me up! There’s_______________ at this party.” N read aloud. We each considered our cards and then laid out some possibilities:
Haligonian Aviator funk
Cozy pink shoes
Slimy zombie dogs
It was hilarious, made absolutely no sense, and got all the kids using words in new ways. Even better, they had fun, didn’t complain, and can’t wait for tomorrow’s writing lesson. The score today is Eema: one, “I hate writing!”: zero.