Playing With Language

Far too often I think we make writing lessons a bit boring. I think we're especially prone to this when we box ourselves into the thinking that all writing that we have our kids do has to involve complete sentences and paragraphs.

Over the next while I want to highlight some other ways we can engage the writers in our children in fun and creative ways. The first I want to feature involves playing with language in a way that inspired by my favourite comic - Strange Planet by Nathan Pyle

By heading to Nathan's Instagram account you can view a lot of his work and spend time reading through his comics with your kids.

What do they notice about the way he names objects that are common to us?

Confetti - tiny trash

Cake with candles - this is on fire

Blow out the candles - extinguish

Teeth - mouth stones

Flossing - forcing string

Bib - trash necklace

Our first observations were that the were very literal explanations of an object.

He also makes wonderful use of synonyms or related/comparative terms.

i.e. wearing a bib is like wearing a necklace.


Make a list of 10 objects in your home.

Kids can look around, walk from room to room and write down items that they'd like to rename.

It's also a good time to talk about why those objects are named what they are in the first place. Does it make sense? Does it have a different name in a different part of the world?

Example: A hooded sweatshirt or "hoodie" is called a "bunny hug" in Saskatchewan and I have no idea why.

(Not talking about a different language here but it's super interesting to see what things are called in other countries that speak the same language. Shannon at Oh Creative Day has been doing a series in her insta stories on "what is this called where you live?" and it's both hilarious and informative.)

Once you all have a list of objects (parents and teachers don't skip out on this activity. Make your own list!) consider the following:

a) make observations about it. What does it do? How does it look?

b) make word associations

c) think of synonyms to jog your thinking

My son wrote down sticker.

I mentioned that it made me think of paste or glue.

He renamed sticker as "paste-y picture"

My daughter wanted to rename music and ear.

Sound travels via vibrations so she named music "pleasant vibrations".

Thinking of the shape and function of the ear she named it "vibration funnel".

Here are some of our other favourites we created.

Nary a sentence was written and yet this was SUCH a productive writing activity.

First of all my kids were engaged the entire time! No complaining, no "I don't know what to write", etc.

Secondly, we talked easily. Bounced ideas off of each other, collaborated and LAUGHED. We laughed a lot. There is a lot of silliness and funny observations.

Thirdly, this activity is SO good for thinking about language in a different way. It's such a fun way to spark creativity and play with words and their meanings.

To extend this activity we will be creating our own comics inspired by Nathan Pyle. This prompted a discussion on what makes comedy funny.

It's important tha