Volunteer Experiences: Fun with Mad Libs

The Joy of Mad Libs

As someone who has been a camp counselor for young girls for the past four summers of my life, I’ve always been curious to see how transferable some of the things we do with our campers would work for other kids. Well, a week ago, I got to find out, at least a little. During our IYWP session with the kids at Pheasant Ridge Community Center, we spent a good chunk of the time playing what we at JCC Apachi Chicago Day Camp liked to call “Musical Mad Libs.” (Just to be clear, I can’t take the credit for coming up with this game—our wonderful music teacher Eric takes the cake on that one.) The point of musical mad libs is to help the kids learn the differences between different categories of words, such as nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Ultimately, the kids will use this knowledge to come up with words to fill in the blanks that we, the volunteers, have created in popular songs. (I’m uploading a blank template of the song “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz as well as a completed template of the song “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson.) When we did this activity at camp, the songs come out completely different. They usually ended up being hilarious, and the kids all loved it! With this knowledge in mind, I thought it would be great to try to do it with the Pheasant Ridge kids since they are around the same age as the kids I work with during the summer and would probably have similar abilities/reactions. So we gave it a shot.

The kids were a bit apprehensive at first when we tried to gauge their knowledge of the differences between nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Nouns and verbs they seemed pretty clear on, especially after we elaborated on some of the definitions the kids gave and came up with some examples of each kind of word. Adjectives they seemed to have a bit more difficulty with, but definitely seemed to pick up on the fact that colors could be used as adjectives. When we tried to help them understand a bit more clearly by asking them to describe various objects around the room, it seems to help them out a bit. They had a great time finding all the different adjectives possible to describe Anaija’s shoes (they were sparkly high top Converse). After a while, we thought it might help them even more to just dive into the activity, so that’s what we did.

We split the kids up into two groups; one group would do “Call Me Maybe” and the other would do “Party Rock Anthem”. I helped with the “Call Me Maybe” group, and it was so great to see the kids, especially Bianca and Aiyana, get so into it. A couple of quieter, shier kids, Anaija and Cayden, were in our group as well, and while they were reserved at first, with a little bit of encouragement and silliness, they started to come out of their shells a bit more. Cayden even contributed some really awesome words like “dragon”. When we finished filling in all the blanks that we had put into the song lyrics, the end result was just as hilarious as we had hoped for! As myself, Erin, and Allie sang them their newly created version of “Call Me Maybe”, they were all laughing hysterically, particularly at lines like, “I wasn’t looking for this/But now you’re in my cheeto,” and, “Dragons and houses for a wish.” When both groups were done, the kids in my group were super excited to share what they had created with the other group. As the volunteers sang it again for the whole class, the kids started dancing and acting super silly. It was great to see them getting more comfortable around us and letting loose a bit! Overall, I think it was an extremely successful activity. Not only was it a little educational, it was also a whole lot of fun, not just for the kids, but for us volunteers too.

~By Olivia Shwartz

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