I was privileged enough to attend ASHA Schools conference this past summer in Pittsburgh. I wanted to share one idea that I took away from a session at the conference. The idea was to use jokes as a way to teach language skills. I am very excited to share with you how I have applied this idea in my school.
JOKE OF THE DAY
How do jokes support language skills: To understand a joke a student needs to understand the language of it. Often it is difficult for many of our speech students to understand the joke because they lack the language background required to interpret the punchline. The addition of humor into a lesson can help maintain some students’ attention and lead into more examples of that language skill into a lesson. This is just a sample of the most common language skills required to understand a joke.
- Multiple Meaning Words (Homonyms): Many jokes use multiple meaning words to introduce humor. A student needs to understand both meanings to understand the joke. Example: Q: What New York building has the most stories? A: The Public Library
- Phonemic Awareness: Rhyming words and similar sounding words are common in jokes. A student must be able to relate the words in the punchline to a similar sounding word to understand the humor. Example: Knock. Knock. Who’s there? Tank. Tank who? You’re welcome.
- Figurative Language: Idioms, metaphors, similes, and other types of figurative language are commonly used to add humor to a joke. A student needs to be able to interpret the meaning to understand the punchline. Example: What did the chewing gum say to the shoe? A: I’m stuck on you.
- Vocabulary: A student will need to understand details or a description of the subject in many jokes to get it. Example: Q: What has a big mouth and doesn’t say a word? A: A river.
- Literal Meanings: Often students miss the joke because they are not thinking of the literal meaning of the question. A student must be able to switch between the figurative meaning and the literal meaning. Example: Q: What animal can fly higher than a house? A: All of them. Houses can’t fly.
- Social Skills: Common sayings and greetings are used in jokes. A student needs to apply several different social skills to understand many jokes such as greeting and closure expressions. Example: What did the beach say when the tide came in? A: Long time no sea.
- Word Association: Making the connection between words can be challenging. Jokes rely on the student understanding how words and subjects are connected. Example: Q: How do you turn soup into gold? A: Add 24 carrots.
- Homophones: In order to comprehend the punchline of a joke a student must be able to understand the meaning of different homophones like bear/bare. Example: Two wrongs never make a right. But what did two rights make? A: The first airplane.
- WH questions: It is important for a student to understand exactly what the questions is saying to understand many jokes. In the example, the literal meaning of the question is the punchline. If the student doesn’t understand all of the answers that could match the WH question then they may not understand the joke. Example: Q: Where are English kings usually crowned? A: On the head.
- Important Information: Some jokes include unnecessary information to try to confuse the listener. The student needs to be able to focus on the important question without concerning themselves with the added information. Example: Q: If the red house is on the left and the blue house is on the right, where is the white house? A: In Washington D.C.
How to make: I started by creating a Joke Board using some border, poster board, wax clips, brass fastener, and the title joke page.I taped the brass fasteners to the back of the poster board so it would be easy to change the joke everyday. Wax clips help hold the poster board in place on the hallway walls. I made two signs because my school consists of a 4th grade and a 5th grade hallway. I placed the signs outside the bathrooms where everyone can easily see them.
I compiled jokes from various books and online resources. I typed each joke on a slide using Power Point. I have 150 jokes on the slides. I made the copies I needed for my school (2). I printed out a handout version of the slides so that I could date the slides.I also gave a copy of the handout to our school’s TV station. The student anchors read the joke of the day each morning in the daily announcements.
I encouraged the students to share the jokes with other classmates, teachers, and their families. It has been a big hit and opened up a language dialogue in our school. Students ask why it is funny if they don’t understand the joke which allows an opportunity for some language lessons. Teachers tell me that they share the jokes with their own children and spouses.
How to get the school involved: I didn’t make enough joke slides for the entire year because I wanted students and staff to contribute to the Joke of The Day. I hung an envelope outside my door and encouraged the school to submit jokes to be used. I had a large amount of submissions which let me know that the students enjoy the jokes each day. I now have enough to last me the rest of the year.
You can purchase the Joke of the Day from my TPT store. It contains 150 jokes for you to share with your students and staff. I am keeping the download as a .ppt file so you can add your own jokes and school submissions to the slides.
Please comment below with ways that you have incorporated humor into your therapy sessions to teach language skills.