Sunday, November 18, 2012

Charades - a literacy secret!

If you know me, you will not be surprised to learn that I enjoy Charades. And if you really know me well, you know that I LOVE charades! Now, I know there are those who are not keen on charades and you are wondering what charades has to do with literacy - DON’T STOP READING. Give me a chance to explain.

My family has been playing charades my entire life. It started out the normal way; two teams generate slips of paper with titles of books, movies, TV shows, etc, each player is timed as they try to get their teammates to guess a title, the team with the smallest amount of minutes wins. This was good, but our game morphed into something so much better. Over the years timing each player was taken out, whispered hints were offered if someone got stuck, an imaginative approach to titles was encouraged, individuals were urged to try again if their first or second approach didn’t work and storytelling was emphasized over speed. We have so much fun!

But you ask, “Okay, that is nice. You had fun. But why is it a literacy secret?” 

My first answer, “Charades lets you play with words!” It is an awesome way to look at words closely without the drudgery of a lesson. Charades helps you learn to separate sounds, see compound words, count syllables, see incomplete and complete words within other words, realize words have more than one meaning and identify words that sound alike. (See the example below.)

My second answer, “Charades improves your ability to tell a story.” In charades you act out phrases or whole books or movies. This reinforces the performer's ability to move from the beginning to the middle to the end of a story or to identify and highlight important moments. Those who are guessing improve their ability to see a story unfold, to find connections (context clues) that help the guessers understand and identify a story. (See the example below.)

My third answer, “Charades gives you confidence and lets you be silly.” Standing in front of crowd always takes some getting used to. In classrooms, it can be difficult to raise your hand or present a book report if you have never been in front of anyone before. Let charades help your children gain confidence as a presenter. Let them see that they can mess up and keep going until they get it right. Being silly is helpful because we learn to laugh at ourselves and laugh with others. Every once in a while, we all need what charades gives us - the chance to be a quacking duck or a ninja or a cooking rat.

My fourth and final answer, “Charades brings you together as a family!” Okay, yes this is not strictly a literacy advantage. But it is such a nice by product. Spending time together as a family, laughing together, working as a team together, learning together is charades' gift to the world. Mmm, that was a bit dramatic. Sorry.

So, did I convince you? I hope so! Thanksgiving is only a few days away and while the family is all-together, I hope you will give charades a try! Regardless, I am hoping you and yours have a wonderful joy-filled day of thanks!

There are many ways to approach any given title. Here are two examples:

Word play example for the movie Silver Linings Playbook. Show silver has 2 syllables. 1st syllable - give the gesture for a sounds-a-like word; act out a duck, point to your bill; have the guessers work through the alphabet until they get to sil. 2nd syllable - give the sounds-a-like gesture, act cold until they guess brrrr. Let them work through the alphabet to ver. Show that linings has 2 syllables. 1st syllable - act out a person standing in a line. 2nd syllable – Pretend to sing. Show the gesture to expand a word until they guess sings; show the chopping gesture to shorten a word until they guess ings. Show that playbook has 2 syllables. 1st syllable – pretend to play or pretend to be in a play (maybe act some Shakespeare). 2nd syllable – pretend to open and read a book.

Storytelling example for the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy. To successfully use the storytelling approach, it is very helpful if one of the guessers has read the book, seen the movie, etc. Although this book could be done by acting like you are driving a car then pointing down to a road, a storytelling approach is much more interesting. Gesture that you will do the “whole concept”. Gesture “man”; act out being dirty, hungry, alone, pushing a cart. Gesture short “man” next to you until they guess boy. Act out going into a house, looking in a basement door, being horrified, closing the door and leaving quickly.

This website has some helpful charade rules and ideas. But remember, this is your game. Use the rules and ideas you like, throw out the rest. ENJOY!