Is That a Funny Joke?
June 13, 2012
This past year, I used jokes in my 2nd- and 3rd-grade classrooms all the time, usually after lunch when the kids were tired. A good laugh will revitalize the brain, so I told them even if they didn’t understand my jokes they had to laugh really loud.
To begin with, I use the jokes to model good conversation. Some jokes require an answer, so they encourage dialogue. I might ask, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” So the kids would need to answer with “I don’t know why.”
Then we would talk about why the joke was funny. With English Language Learners it is really important for them to understand why the joke was funny. Because of their limited vocabulary I used it as a time to explain homonyms, rhyming words, etc. Those are all a huge part of jokes that appeal to young children.
By mid-year I would have the kids write their own jokes on a piece of paper and drop them into a box in our classroom. A student would draw a joke from the box and read it to the class. It was pretty funny some of the ones they would come up with; the hard part was getting the class to explain what was funny about the joke. They were all funny to me because a lot of them made no sense at all (e.g., “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because he wanted to!”)
I definitely use jokes and love them. Next year, I’ll try to work them into my 1st-grade classroom. I didn’t always get it quite right with my 2nd and 3rd graders last year, and 1st graders are a different beast altogether.