How can you help your students to WRITE FUNNY?  First of all, have them watch the video above to kick off a discussion about writing funny.

Before doing their own humorous writing, students should first back up and READ FUNNY. Have them find examples of wordplay and humor in stories and picture books and analyze those examples. What makes them funny? Why did authors choose the words they did? For example, in TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY, why is Maybella Jean Wishywashy a perfect name for the main character? (answer: Since her character flaw is that she can’t make decisions, she has the last name “Wishywashy”–a wishywashy person is one who can’t decide; plus her first name “Maybella” starts with the word maybe–maybe she should choose this one, or maybe choose that one, or maybe the other one–she can’t decide; and so her name hints at her character flaw). What is the word play in Lisa Wheeler’s picture book title WOOL GATHERING: A SHEEP FAMILY REUNION? (answer: Sheep are animals with wool on their bodies and when a sheep family all gets/gathers together it could be called a “Wool Gathering”) The HANDOUT below includes a page that encourages students to find examples of funny writing as a reader.

The book ONLY COWS ALLOWED, which is full of puns (word jokes), can be viewed as a video read-aloud on this website. Click here and go to the bottom of the page for the video. Have students watch it and try to find all the puns in the story.

Next, students should try WRITING FUNNY. They can start by brainstorming words within a category, such as FRUITS & VEGETABLES: zucchini, cantaloupe, nectarine. For each of those words, they should think if the food’s name reminds them of any other word. For example, the beginning of “zucchini” sounds like “zoo” which could lead to the joke: Which vegetable lives in a cage? ZOOcchini! The word “cantaloupe” sounds like the phrase “can’t elope” which could lead to the joke: Which fruit wants a big wedding?  Cantaloupe! And for “nectarine,” the beginning sounds like “neck” which could lead to the joke: What’s a giraffe’s favorite fruit? NECKtarine!

To write funny, students could also start with a target word, such as PIG and then brainstorm as many pig-related words as possible, such as: oink, grunt, piglets, Wilbur, pigpen, slop, bacon, ham, etc. Could any of those words inspire pig jokes or wordplay? Oh, that poor aching pig needed some oinkment!  That pig didn’t even have the lead part in the play, but he was still such a ham on stage! The HANDOUT  below includes a page that challenges students to WRITE FUNNY.

Writing FUNNY is a great end-of-school-year kind of writing. Students will have fun with it, and you might encourage them to try some funny writing over summer break . . . maybe they could create school jokes over the summer that they could share when the school year starts again.

Have FUN writing FUNNY! And by all means, add any of your student-created jokes or wordplay to the comment section below–that would be COMMENTable=)! (Get it? Wordplay for “commendable” =)

P.S. Clown noses cost about $1 at a party store. You don’t want your students sharing  the same clown nose (that would snot be nice!), but you might think about students having their own clown noses to wear when they write something funny that they want to share with others. A little gimmick that kids enjoy.


Only Cows Allowed by Lynn Plourde & Rebecca Harrison Reed
The Blizzard Wizard by Lynn Plourde & John Aardema
The Mrs. Shepherd series of books by Lynn Plourde & Thor Wickstrom
(note the main character’s names in:Teacher Appreciation Day, Pajama Day, Book Fair Day, Science Fair Day, Field Trip Day)
Wool Gathering: A Sheep Family Reunion by Lisa Wheeler & Frank Ansley
Mr. Prickles: A Quill-Fated Love Story by Kara LaReau & Scott Magoon

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