What happens when you mash-up pop songs with famous historical figures? Rockin' history music-videos! The history based pop-music parodies are the brainchild of two high school history teachers "Historyteachers," self-described as "kooky teachers" and "gloriously dorky."
Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" as "Revolution in France" is the most downloaded video, which probably has more to do with Lady Gaga's popularity than with the Guillotine. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the vocals and video production.
The adapted lyrics are catchy, and pack in a bunch of historical facts. Before long, your kids might be humming "La la Liberte...E E Egalite...Fra fra ternite" to the tune of "Bad Romance," or "Better Flee When You See a Rat, Girl" (Black Death) to the tune of Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl."
Don't expect the videos to replace a true history lesson, but do expect kids to be curious and entertained—about history! That's right. If "Historyteachers'" are on a mission to debunk the myth that history is a boring subject for the elite, then I say Bravo! and Carry on!
Here are a few of my favourites from Historyteachers' 53 videos. Parents, please watch for age-appropriateness and comfort level.
Wordle is so cool. You input a chunk of text or any URL, and out comes a fun, artistic, and interesting image, or WORD CLOUD. Here's what Wordle spewed out for my Kiducation blog on Yummy Mummy.
The larger words mean I have used them more frequently. I can also personalize my Wordle by playing with various colours, fonts, and formatting options. Ooooh, this is addictive! Anything I create goes into a gallery that I can print or share with friends.
Wordle is not only about creating pretty word clouds. Wordle is also a great tool for kids to develop writing skills, to stimulate critical thinking, and to spark creativity. Here are 5 ways to inspire kids' writing with Wordle:
Create a summer journal. Summer seems a lot more exciting when kids can see all their activities and plans in word art. Inspiration begins with a personalized cover page, like this one from my 9 year old:
Summarize a favourite story, song, or poem. Wordle often enables key words to emerge, which is essential when constructing summaries. My 9-year-old tried Cinderella:
Describe yourself or your friend while building vocabulary! Variety yields a fuller Wordle. This encourages kids to think beyond "nice" and "awesome." P.S. THIS MAKES A GREAT CARD FOR THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE! My 11 year old's Wordle on herself:
Stumped for creative writing ideas? Borrow someone's Wordle for themes. Build sentences from word clouds. Parents, please monitor for appropriate content. Here's one I love:
Kids can type in a text to edit their own writing. It's surprising how often "like" and "nice" emerge as the biggest words in the clouds. Time to spice up that story!
Wordle is addictive, because the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. I hope your kids have fun Wordling, and that they emerge inspired to write!
"Well, there ain't no cure for the summertime blues," goes the song. I beg to differ! Now may be the perfect time to cheer up with a laugh out loud book. I love to cuddle up and share some laughs with the kids. It makes all of us instantly feel better, no matter how lousy the day. If the kids feel like reading on their own, that works too.
These quality books are not only clever and well written, but are just downright funny.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. Parents and kids can’t help but dialogue with the pigeon when he begs to drive the bus. If you can’t always say no to your child, say no to the pigeon!
There’s A Monster at the End of this Book (Sesame Street) by Jon Stone. Grover is a monster who’s afraid of the monster at the end of the book. He tries everything to prevent kids from turning the pages, even building brick a wall to hold the page down. “Please don’t turn the page!” he begs. One of my favourite books as a kid, it continues to make kids laugh out loud today.
You’re A Bad Man, Mr. Gum! by Andy Stanton. Mr. Gum is a stinky, gross man who is mean to children. Lucky for the town of Lamonic Bibber, an angel whacks him on the head with a frying pan every time he neglects his garden. A cast of odd characters and questionable heroes round out this zany, laugh out loud book. Many odd illustrations, including dirty fingerprints on the pages, make this chapter accessible to younger readers. Check out the other books in this series.
Sideway Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar. Wayside School has a lot of problems. It was built sideways with 30 stories and no nineteenth story, meaning that Miss Zarves, who teaches there, doesn't exist, either. Sleeping through class is considered educational, and mean Mrs. Gorf sometimes turns students into apples. Get to know all the quirky kids at Wayside School through their tales. 30 short chapters filled with humour and life lessons make this an ideal read for the family. Check out the series!
Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. For kids who like their humour dark. “If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book,” cautions Snicket. Indeed, very bad things happen to the Baudelaire children, but “Snicket’s” tongue-in-cheek mock-gothic style make for some laugh out loud moments. Kids appreciate this author’s respect for their intelligence, and delight in the clever play on words throughout the book.
100% Wolf by Jane Lyons. He's small. He's pink. He's Groomed. But he's...100% wolf! The story follows a young boy who is supposed to be a werewolf, but upon his first "Transwolftation" turns into a POODLE! Filled with outrageous jokes and adventure, it will have you and your kids howling with laughter!
The Princess Bride by William Goldman. This witty satire on a fantasy novel, ironically owes its appeal to splendidly rendered elements of the fantasy genre: Sword fights, a princess in distress, a handsome prince, and a stupid/evil villain. Teens will appreciate the author's jabs at fairytale love and the not so happily ever after reality of romantic love. I highly recommend the movie as a perfect pairing.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Earth is about to be demolished to build a hyperspace bypass through the solar system. Luckily, Arthur Dent's friend Ford whisks him away to a spaceship at the last moment. Along the way we learn about the true origins of mankind, and find out that we are only the third most intelligent species on the planet. Why does the Guide have the words"Don't Panic" written in large letters on the cover? Full of clever jokes, it's a book that also makes you think about humanity and the world. Perfect for teens!
Now over to you: What did I miss? What are your favourite laugh-out-loud books?
TIP OF THE WEEK: Reading out loud with your kids can be just the push they need to read independently.