Start off by sharing favorite stories while snacking on Oreos and grapes. I’ve had too many spills at boys’ book clubs by now to want to hand out lemonade. Instead, I gave them little cups for water. Several of the boys did ask for drinks; maybe juice boxes next time?
Do one Aesop Mad Lib together, and let the parent-child pairs choose one of the other two to do together. Come back as a group and let the families share their mad lib stories if they’d like to.
Then create a modern fable as a group. Choose a moral (I pulled my examples from assorted lists of cliches), then choose two characters and make up a story to fit the moral. Break up into groups again (2 families may work together this time) to create their own fable. Come back together and share.
We ended up with 6 boys and 5 parents (3 moms and 2 dads). Each table ended up with 2 kids and 1-2 adults, which worked well for the activities. We started off by reading a few favorite stories from the book – “He Who…”, “Rock, Paper, Scissors”, “Straw & Matches”, and “Little Walrus.” Two of the boys read themselves, one asked a parent to do it, and one asked me to do it.
After we shared our favorite stories, we did one Mad Lib as a group based on “The Fox and the Grapes.” After that, the child-parent pairs did one or two of the other Mad Libs, based on “The Ant and the Grasshopper” and “The Tortoise and the Hare.” For the most part, they were what you’d expect – kind of silly, with some scatalogical humor.
When we shared, most pairs chose to share their versions of “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” which, for whatever reason, came out a little better. Especially good was the moral at the end. To make the Mad Libs, I took the text from http://www.aesopfables.com/ and replaced some of the words with blanks. The moral for “The Ant and the Grasshopper” was “It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.” I turned this into “It is best to ________ for the _____________ of necessity.” The four resulting morals were:
- It is best to chill for the pizzas of necessity.
- It is best to move for the chickens of necessity.
- It is best to sweat for the frogs of necessity.
- It is best to die for the superheroes of necessity.
These were all awesome. Seriously, I would move for the chickens of necessity. Wouldn’t you?
All that, including the sharing, took about 40 minutes. I said something about how Mad Libs are mostly funny because they don’t make sense, but the cool thing about Squids was the way the stories did make sense, although sometimes in an unexpected way. We only had 5 minutes left, but I wanted them to at least think about forming a coherent – but funny – story. We randomly drew two different sets of morals and characters and tried to quickly put together some kind of narrative.
Story #1: A butterfly named Jack liked to work very hard and never do anything fun. His mom told him that if he didn’t do fun things sometimes, he’d turn into an olive. He didn’t believe her, but sure enough one day he turned into an olive. Then a turtle came along and ate him. He died, and so did the turtle. Moral: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (or a dead olive.)
Story #2: A ladybug, who happened to be an opera singer, bought a glass house from a zipper. She invited her friend Elephant over to see the new house. When Ladybug began to sing for Elephant, the house cracked and fell down. Moral: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t sing opera. (We tweaked the moral on that one. Alternate endings had Elephant eating stones and pooping them on the floor of the glass house, which then broke. So – people who live in glass houses shouldn’t poop stones?)
I wish I had left more time for this second part – I think that in smaller groups they would have had an easier time writing their stories. But everyone had fun, which is what it’s really about.
Don’t cry over spilled milk.
There’s no I in Team.
That’s the way the cookie crumbles.
People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
All that glitters is not gold.
We’ll have to go back to the drawing board.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
Actions speak louder than words.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Beauty is only skin deep.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.
A watched pot never boils.
The early bird catches the worm.
Let sleeping dogs lie.
ant, butterfly, carrot, dog, elephant, flea, giraffe, hippo, iguana, jester, kangaroo, ladybug, mouse, nose, olive, pickle jar, queen, rat, stapler, turtle, umbrella, vole, worm, x-ray, yak, zipper