I'm thinking about focusing on humor for April Fools Day. I found this Chatting About Books podcast episode that lists books that make kids giggle. I love Dr. Seuss books, but students have at least heard of most of them. I think I need to find some fresh, new texts.
What books do you recommend to get kids laughing and learning? Do you have related activities?
I haven't worked out quite how I feel about this, but kids (especially my own) giggle a LOT with the Skippyjon Jones books, mostly b/c of the "Spanish", where all these words end with "ito" (bandito, burrito, skippito, etc) ... Not sure I'm cool with the language-as-the-joke, but Jackson does giggle ... :-)
My twin boys also love Skippyjon Jones. They also recently discovered Dear Deer, a book of funny homnyms and homophones. (Disclaimer: My sons are not yet 4; then again, Eli read Harry Goes to the Hospital today from cover to cover entirely by himself, and he only stopped once to ask me what "IV" stood for.)
For April 1, here's a thought -- April has three distinctions: Math Awareness Month, National Humor Month, and National Poetry Month. In honor of these holidays, I'll be running a contest on my blog where folks submit their best original funny math poem. Here's my personal creation (though not appropriate for a young classroom) --
With my head in an oven
And my **** on some ice
I'd say that, on average,
I feel rather nice!
In the category of shameless self-promotion, I wrote a book of math humor, Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. I only mention it here b/c many of the jokes are based on the double meaning of words. Quite a few are puns that young kids might enjoy. That said, not all of the jokes are appropriate (or understandable) for elementary school kids, and you don't have to buy the book -- you can get a lot of the jokes for free at my website (www.mathjokes4mathyfolks.com; just enter the "Jokes" section) or at my blog (http://mathjokes4mathyfolks.wordpress.com).
I'm very interested to hear what other books are suggested. Thanks for starting this discussion!
I have a storytime that I use for ages 3-8 called Silly Stories. Some books that I use include:
Don't Make Me Laugh
Sody Solleratus (folktale)
Smelly Feet and other Silly Poems
The Unexpectedly Bad Hair Day
Don't Make Me Laugh is very hard to find (I found a used copy on Amazon.com). Sody Solleratus is an older folktale. I use it with older kids and have them retell the tale - you can have them dress up or make props. It is easy to find online in different versions. You could have kids write silly poems if you want to get into April as Poetry Month.
You've reminded me of one of my favorites, probably well out of print. I love to use Mr. Bananahead at Home to talk about prepositions and verb phrases. He confuses things like "Turn ON THE STOVE" with "TURN ON the stove." It gets the point across even with older students. And it's exceptionally silly.
I was giving this some more thought and some more "silly" or "funny" books that I have used or seen used include:
* any poetry written or edited by Jack Prelutsky such as Pizza the Size of the Sun and others
* "Parts" and "More Parts" by Tom Arnold
* I like to use Tall Tales to teach about American History and Folklore - you can use tales that are specific to your state. I have used the website, http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/tall-tales/ for upper elementary, middle, and high school students
*the "No David" series by David Shannon
* "Grossology" series is focused on household science but with the gross factor it can be a platform for a lot of humor. The students are fixated anytime I read excerpts from these books.
I also forgot to include that grades 2-4 love jokes.
There are also books on idiomatic expressions in English and other languages if you want to do lesson plans in foreign language classes for middle and upper school students.
There is also a book that I love called, "Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners" by Laurie Keller. When you first look at this book, you think it is written for upper elementary, but there are a lot of tongue in cheek jokes and references that many adults or older students would find funny. It doesn't hurt in this day to reinforce anything that has to do with civility/ common courtesy, especially amongst the teenage set.
When I think of funny books for children, I immediately think of Amelia Bedelia.
Lesson Planet offers 36 lesson plans for teachers to use with the Amelia Bedelia books.
You may want to take a look at this website: http://www.lessonplanet.com/search?keywords=amelia+bedelia&media=lesson.
I love all the Robert Munsch books--great suggestion!
I also love, love, love poetry so recommend the Shel Silverstein books--especially A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends. I was an early childhood teacher working with preschoolers and kindergartners and they "get" the humor of Shel Silverstein. They were always requesting I read them the Shel Silverstein poems.
Some other suggestions off the top of my head are:
Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster by Debra Frasier
Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin
Good Thing You're Not an Octopus! by Julie Markes
All the "Carl the Dog" books by Alexandra Day
All the "Junie B. Jones" books by Barbara Park
I forgot to add a great idea for using the book, Click Clack Moo. Engage children in predicting what other farm animals might get a hold of the typewriter. Ask them to generate the messages that these particular animals would send to Farmer Brown with their requests. For example, the cows sent the typewritten message to Farmer Brown for "electric blankets" and then the ducks sent a request for "a diving board in the pond." What might the sheep send? Or the chickens? Or the horses?
My first graders and my daughters had many laughs with the story Mixed Up Michael by Rick Rossiter. They love when Michael tells a female teacher that her mustache looks nice. We have also had many giggles reading The Great White Man-Eating Shark by Margaret Mahy. Which is a book about a boy who looks like a shark and plays a joke on everyone at the beach so he can have the waters to himself. The really funny part is when a real female shark falls in love with the boy.
What a great discussion to learn about new books to make us giggle. It makes me want to go shopping for these books.
ReadWriteThink.org has lesson plans and resources based on several of the titles mentioned:
Click Clack Moo:
Junie B. Jones:
If you have a favorite lesson plan, we would love for you to share it with ReadWriteThink.org!