A Fun Activity for your Family

Some extended family time is upon us. Once you’ve exhausted the possibilities for polite discussion, you may be wondering what you should do or talk about.

 In some families, this may be the time that the traditional family game of Twister is launched. However, for those of more sedate minds, other games may be in order. Some games are entertaining, some humorous, some dauntingly boring, and some just plain fun.

 I’m here to suggest a fun game that can fill your afternoon even if you didn’t plan ahead. In fact, all you need for this game is a timer (like the one on your cell phone), some paper, and writing utensils.

 This is a version of Madlibs, but without the prefabricated story.

Photo used by CC License. For credit:  http://ow.ly/zcxK306twQu

Photo used by CC License. For credit: http://ow.ly/zcxK306twQu

 The gist of the game is that everyone will answer a series of questions by writing down a clause of a sentence. At the end, the resultant sentences will be read aloud. Typically much hilarity results, especially if you have an odd assortment of ages, interests, and personalities.

 You’ll want to set a timer for 15-30 seconds (otherwise someone will think too hard), announce one of the questions, have people write on their papers, then fold their answer back and pass the paper along.

 The game can be played with any number of players, however, I would recommend having five or more. We recently played with a group of college students, ourselves, and our kids.

 There are five questions that participants will need to write a clause in response to:

  1.  Who did it?
  2.  What did they do?
  3. Where did they do it?
  4. When did they do it?
  5. Why did they do it? 

Since we just played this game, I’ll produce some of the results below: 

My stinky dad
Searched for the formula to turn iron into gold
At the North Pole
After mother said to
To get back home. 
[Two Participants]
Ate a stack of pancakes
On the moon
As the sun rose and the choir sang Old MacDonald in falsetto voices
Because she forgot bubble gum.
 16 yellow monkeys with names that start with ‘z’
watching TV
in Fred’s stomach
while Ronald Reagan was President
to win one million dollars. 
Everyone in this house
Stacked some coins
On Hoth
As the snow fell on a quiet July evening and the banjo music lilted on by
Because no unicorn had come 
Princess Leah
Landed terribly
In a ramshackle house on the edge of a cliff in Texas
In the 1600s
To feed mom carrots. 
George Washington
Flew upside down deliberately
In New York
On November 18, 2016
To be able to retire early and learn to play shuffleboard. 
Doctors in the Soviet Union
Got soaking wet in the rain
In Greece
In 1812
Because no one had ever asked her to the prom. 
Dr. Wierdo
Advertised on the internet
At McDonalds
Before dinner
To destroy the dark side forever. 
A co-op of ladies making and selling jewelry
Did the hokey-pokey
Down by the river side
In the second century of the new republic
Since her mother hadn’t ever seen her left toe uncovered.

Obviously, all of these are a load of nonsense, which is exactly why they were so much fun. If you are bored, or in need of some cooperative levity, I recommend playing this simple game.

A Poem by Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

"A Short Condensed Poem in Praise of Reader's Digest Condensed Books"

By Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

It has often been said
There's so much to be read,
you never can cram
all those words in your head.

So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs
is making a chore
for the reader who reads.

That's why my belief is
the briefer the brief is,
the greater the sigh
of the reader's relief is.

And that's why your books
have such power and strength.
You publish with shorth!
(Shorth is better than length.)

Today is the 111th anniversary of the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Across the US, many elementary schools will be celebrating the literary oeuvre of a man who wrote mainly nonsense. Though his storylines often lacked obvious purpose, he created characters that have engaged his readers for decades and led to a colorful silliness being passed on through several generations.

What American child has not read (or heard read) Green Eggs and Ham or would not recognize even the jaunty red and white striped hat of the cat in the hat? Or One Fish, Two Fish? A significant percentage of high school graduations, at least in the season when I went to a number of them, seemed to reference Oh, the Places You'll Go! Additionally, many of the scholarly tomes that I read, which otherwise lack any sort of a sense of humor, cite The Lorax as a viable inspiration for environmental ethics.

In any case, I offer this poem, which was printed on the dust jacket of Reader's Digest Condensed Books, for your entertainment in honor of Geisel's birthday.


by Lewis Carroll

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
   and the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
   The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
   The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
    Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
   And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
   The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
   And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
   The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
   He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
   Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh, Callay!"
   He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
   And the mome raths outgrabe.