What if Frosty wasn't a snowman—what if he was a snuffle? This fun Oulipo-inspired activity is a great way to bump up your child's vocabulary and spelling over the holiday break. Oulipo (pronounced oo-lee-po) was founded by French writers and scientists as a creative and organized way to inspire new writing and thoughts. This activity recreates the lyrics of a lighthearted Christmas song by challenging your child to replace all the nouns. Using a little word-magic she'll find something different and silly!
What You Need:
- "Frosty the Snowman" lyrics, easy to find on-line
What You Do:
- Once you've printed out a copy of the song have your child begin highlighting all the nouns she can find. If she isn't sure have her mark the word any way, when you look it up together it will build her vocab.
- Once she's done picking out the nouns she can start rewriting the song lyrics.
- When she comes to the first highlighted word have her stop to look it up in the dictionary. Getting familiar with reference books like the dictionary boosts her problem solving skills and critical thinking.
- Once she finds that first noun help her count three nouns down. Not all of the entries will be nouns and many will have multiple meanings! This is the fun part. Here she'll have a chance to see how language is used – how one word, like "walk" can be used as a verb or a noun. Don't worry about lingering over every word, unless of course she's curious, or you are—keep it light and fun.
- Have her continue writing the lyrics with new nouns until she's done. For example, "snowman" might be replaced with "snowstorm." The outcome will always be a little different depending on the dictionary you use.
- Try singing her newly penned version and see how it sounds!
If you want to lighten the load on this exercise, reduce the count from three to two, or even just to one noun away- the shorter the distance traveled from the original word the more similar the words will be. To make it more challenging up the ante to as many as six or seven. This lyrical mad libs is based on an Oulipo technique called N+7, traveling seven nouns from the original word to create something different and playful.