Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Toolbox of Faith: A Program That Helps Children Discover the Uses of Faith

Activity 2: Laughing Exercises And Captain Underpants' Name Game

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Captain Underpants' Name Game. Newsprint, markers, and tape; large blank name tags and markers

Preparation for Activity

  • Laughing Exercises. Review the laughing exercises under "Description of Activity" to get comfortable leading them. To add more laughing exercises and to learn about the laughter yoga movement, visit the Dr. Kataria School of Laughter Yoga website.
  • Captain Underpants' Name Game. Post three sheets of newsprint where you can write on them. On each sheet, write the entire alphabet in a column, down the left-hand side. Or, if you have a whiteboard, write the alphabet three times (in three separate columns). Leave room between the columns to add a word after each letter.

Description of Activity

Experience the joy of laughter and humor through play. Both games provide ways for children to enjoy humor that is silly and not cruel.

Laughing Exercises

The combination of pretending to cry and bending over triggers spontaneous laughter, the laughter yogis say. Invite the children to stand straight up, as they are able, then bend all the way down to the floor, pretending to cry loudly the whole way. Now ask them to slowly come back up. Most people will naturally begin laughing as they rise. Show the group how to finish the movement by stretching their arms to the ceiling. Invite the children to try more laughter exercises:

  • Making a "pop" noise by putting a thumb in your mouth, filling your cheeks with air, then pulling out your thumb.
  • Fluttering your lips with a finger
  • Lion laughter - letting out a big laugh, in combination with a roar

These and quite a few others will come naturally to participants.

Captain Underpants' Name Game

Gather the children in a circle near the newsprint you have posted. Ask if they are familiar with the Captain Underpants series of books. Allow some responses. Then, tell them:

You might not realize that although the books are silly, the author of Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey, takes some things very seriously. One of those things is name-calling. On his website, he says this about it:

"The thing about name-calling is that it's totally based on your given name. Obviously, somebody named Johnny Butts is going to be teased a lot more than somebody named Larry Drake. But what if there was a chart which would level the playing field? What if you could take anybody's name, regardless of whether it was funny or not, and insert it into an equation which made everybody's name equally ridiculous? That way, nobody would be singled out. Larry Drake could no longer make fun of Johnny Butts (because Booger Bubbletush is just as stupid as Poopsie Toiletfanny).

Dav Pilkey sat down and compiled the most silly, disgusting, embarrassing, and idiotic names he could think of. He created the Name-Change-O-Chart over the course of about a week, then tested it for another week, making changes and adjustments here and there. Explain that the group will now use Dav Pilkey's method to give everyone a silly name. Point out that this is meant to be an example of shared humor - laughing with each other about everyone's silly names - as opposed to the cruel humor of teasing about a name.

Going column by column, engage the group to generate a silly word to go with each letter of the alphabet. For the first column, ask for adjectives or "describing words:" For example: a = drippy, b = doombah, c = slimy, d = goofy, e = crusty.

The words do not need to correspond with the letters in any way. Take responses any way you like (calling out, raising hands); just make sure every child who wants to contribute has a chance. NOTE: To shorten the process of assigning a silly word to each letter of the alphabet, assign a group of letters of the alphabet to some words; for example: a, f, l, q, v, and z = drippy.

For the second column, ask for nouns. For example: a = pickle, b = feather, c = sewer, d = sweater, e = chicken.

For the third column, ask for nouns in a particular category, such as a body part, a type of transportation or a food. For example: a = butt, b = feet, c = face, d = nose, e = hump. Once you have completed all the columns, tell the children they now have a chart like Dav Pilkey's Name Change-O-Chart. Invite the children to calculate their own silly names. Make up your own rules, or use these:

  • Based on the first sheet of newsprint (the adjectives), use the last to determine your new first name.
  • Based on the second sheet of newsprint (the nouns), use the second letter of your last name to determine the first half of your new last name.
  • Based on the last sheet of newsprint (the category-specific nouns), use the second letter of your last name to determine the second half of your new last name.

Tell them: Voila! You have a brand new identity (such as Drippy Picklenose)!

Pass out blank name tags and markers and invite children to make name tags, using their new names. Have them introduce themselves to one another. You may like to keep using the silly names instead of real ones for the rest of this session.