Lily has recently taken to mad libs and I couldn't be happier.
If you don't remember mad libs from third grade, it's the game where one person writes a story and leaves out a couple words, and the second person provides the words when prompted for "a noun", "a verb", "a girl's name", "a part of the body", etc. It's a lot of fun and I've loved the game ever since I learned about it in grade school and I've done a bunch of them well into adulthood. Whenever I drive anywhere of length with my buddy Tim, we'll typically make one, with the passenger writing the story and the driver providing the words.
We've got our own routine to it, and it's worked out pretty well with the ones I make for Lily. In addition to the usual requests for nouns, verbs and adjectives, we usually include at least one "walkism" (synonyms for walked like strolled, sauntered, jogged or sashayed) and talkism (words used in place of said, like shouted, whispered, yelled, rasped and the ever popular "ejaculated").
Typically, I'll do a short page to introduce the main character and set the stage. So we'll get the character's name and rather than writing "same name" a dozen times, I'll just incorporate the name and the details of the characters as constants in the text of subsequent parts of the story once they've been established in the beginning. Sometimes we'll build on elements that have been generated randomly like that. If we determine the hero is a firefighter with x-ray vision, that might become a plot point in later chapters.
In the story we're working on now, Gargles, our heroine, is on her way to the ocean to buy some seaweed ice cream for her mom. She flags down her Uncle Joe when he passes by in his train by waving her heiney cheek at him. (Lily is, you will remember, five years old.)
She loves telling collaborative stories, and this is a great way to learn her parts of speech. It's strange that I happened to mention to even the most precocious five year old what a gerund is, and she probably won't remember it, but hey, she'll be that much ahead of the curve if she does. (Not that she needs it. She missed the cut off date by three days, so September will mark her third year of instruction learning her ABCs.)
It's fun, it's instructional and we can do it anywhere. They're rewarding to write and rewarding to read and they're always good for a laugh when you uncover a notebook full of mad libs from a couple years back.
Bonus Mad Lib! Give me the words in the comments
- Body part