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Pun Activities & Games

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teaching your students about puns can be fun when you use games and activities. This lesson provides you with several ideas you can use to introduce and reinforce puns in whole and small group settings.

Puns for Everyone

The thing about puns is, well, they're funny. And what do students love more than laughing? Playing games and doing activities. Teaching what a pun is and how to use them correctly can be a bit nuanced, but when taught correctly, student understanding of language and content can reach a new level. Take this pun, for example:

  • When she told me I was just average, she was being mean.

In order for students to really get this pun, they have to know a bit about mathematical concepts of means and averages. Once your students get the basic idea of puns, though, it's just like being an astronaut - the sky's the limit!

Teaching Puns - Direct Instruction Activity

Setting - Whole group

Materials

  • Prepared homophonic and homographic puns, one on each index card
  • Chart paper
  • Marker
  • Tape

Instructions

  • Write the words 'homophonic' and 'homographic' on chart paper.
  • Explain that a homographic pun uses a word spelling as the pun. Share an example, such as 'When he saw his hair turning gray, he thought he'd dye.'
  • Next explain the homographic pun as a play on words, such as 'The best way to stop a charging elephant is to take away her credit cards.'
  • Now break students into partner pairs and give each a prepared index card.
  • Have groups decide which type of pun their example is, then give each group a chance to read their pun aloud.
  • Allow each group to tape their pun in the correct column on the chart paper.
  • Hang the pun chart in the classroom for reference.

Extensions

  • Extend this activity by having partners think of their own pun, then writing it down on an index card.
  • Collect cards and mix them up, then redistribute and have students determine which type of pun they have, taping in the correct column.

Reinforcing Pun Activities

Animal Puns

Setting - Partner pairs

Materials

  • Prepared example of an animal pun, such as an image of a lion in court and the phrase, 'He can't help lion under oath.'
  • Magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Construction paper

Instructions

  • Divide students into partner pairs and show your prepared animal pun.
  • Have students read the pun, then discuss with a partner what kind of pun it is as well as why it's considered a pun.
  • Now distribute magazines and instruct partners to find an image of an animal and create their own animal pun. If magazines with animal images aren't available, consider printing images of animals from which students may choose, or allowing students to write their pun and search for an accompanying animal image.
  • Create the animal pun mini-poster by cutting and gluing the animal image to construction paper and writing the pun.
  • Spend time sharing animal puns as a whole group, then display puns around the classroom or in the hall.

Extensions

  • Challenge students to separate the puns into homographic and homophonic.
  • Connect to a social studies unit. For example, if learning about Africa, focus on animals from that region.

We Heart Puns

Setting - Small group or independent

Materials

  • Red, pink, and white construction paper
  • Markers
  • Scissors

Instructions

  • Begin by reviewing puns as a whole class. What are they? What are the different types?
  • Now tell students they will be creating puns based on love. Share an example, such as an image with a piece of toast and the phrase 'I have a crust on you!'
  • Give students time to brainstorm, then supply them with paper and other materials to create a heart or other love-themed piece on which to write and illustrate their pun.
  • Share together as a class, then display on bulletin board with the title 'We Heart Puns!'

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