Note: This post is inspired by the work of the charming Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author of many delightful books, including the four “Cookies” books pictured below. I was saddened to discover that she passed away a few years ago. May she rest in peace. I’ve blogged about one of her other books here.
For a group educational activity involving my children and some other children, I came up with a delightful game based on Amy’s Cookies books. We had enjoyed the original Cookies back in November together. I did some research and percolation of thought since then and came up with an activity based on the book. (We’ve been gameschooling a lot lately with another group of homeschoolers, and it’s so much fun!)
So last week I read aloud the Christmas Cookies book, which is one of her Cookies sequels. You can see above, closer to the top of this post, the author has two more sequels as well. These delightful books are dictionaries, in a way, in that they give word definitions. But the definitions always involve cookies. So fun! So for example, “Tradition means we always make the same cookies the same time every year in our matching aprons.”
Here’s what we did for a fun learning and bonding time together to inspire a love of language arts. You don’t have to do this for a “school” activity. You can do it for family game night, a party, or with adults for a date night. It’s very adaptable!
- I read aloud the picture book, Christmas Cookies. For each page, I first just tossed out the word being defined on that page, like “tradition” or “disappointed.” I covered up the words and just showed the picture. I asked the children to come up with a correct definition of the word, based on the clues given in the picture. If you have a super competitive, clever group of children, you might want to give points for each correct definition they give and double points if they manage to match the author’s definition. Then announce the winner at the end. Otherwise just read and enjoy without keeping track of points.
- Then we played our creative writing game. I put a stack of index cards in the center of the table and a bunch of pencils.
- I Googled a random list of adjectives on my phone. We reviewed what an adjective is and what a noun is.
- I tossed out an adjective, like “aggressive.” Then I instructed them to write a definition of aggressive, in terms of either Christmas or cookies. They weren’t allowed to use the same word in the definition. So in other words, they were to write, “Aggressive means…(fill in the blanks).” without repeating the word aggressive, and using something about Christmas or cookies in the definition. (In hindsight, I would ask if anyone doesn’t know the definition and I would ask someone who does know to define it. We had one girl who didn’t always know the definitions so her answers missed the mark.)
- Then they passed their cards to me, with the side written on face down, and I shuffled the cards up.
- I read them aloud, and they tried to pick whose definition was whose. They got a point for each correct guess.
- The person with the most points when our time was over won the game.
We had much laughter and hilarity! It was sooo fun! Here are some samples of what they wrote:
My 15 year old son wrote “Aggressive means fighting crowded stores to go Christmas shopping.” I would say that is also “procrastination” haha. So you could play this game with nouns too.
My 13 year old daughter wrote, “Aggressive means setting a booby trap on the plate of cookies you give to the neighbors.” Yikes! I say that’s mean!
She also wrote, “Alert means making sure the cookies don’t burn.” Clever!
The 10 year old wrote, “Aggressive means making 10 dozen cookies.” I call that ambitious!
A 12 year old girl wrote, “Aggressive means my mom is mad and attacking the dough while she makes the cookies.” LOL!
Two of the students, siblings, had a meeting of the minds by coincidence and wrote, “Adventurous means trying a new cookie recipe.”
My 13 year old daughter wrote a similar definition only she added more. She wrote, “Adventurous means using a recipe you’ve never seen before.” She is such an artist, so I knew that one was hers, because of the use of the word “seen.” It was so fun to see the children’s personalities shine through in their definitions.
My 15 year old wrote, “Adventurous means being Kevin in Home Alone 2.” I knew that one was his as well!
For “attractive,” we had:
“Attractive means those presents under the tree look so, so, so, good!”
“Attractive means so-and-so thinks Mrs. Claus is cute!” The writer put her brother’s name in there for “so-and-so”, which made it easy for all to guess who it was. She quickly learned not to do that for future turns, LOL!
At the end we served cookies of course. 🙂
Everyone had a rousing good time. We are totally playing this when my adult children come for our Christmas vacation. They are going to love it!
A variation could be like in the Apples to Apples board game where you have a judge who picks the best definition.
You don’t have to play with adjectives, you can use nouns or adverbs as well. And you don’t have to use the cookies theme. You could really pick any theme or for more fun, join two themes together, like Christmas and cookies.
We are definitely going to play this game again! My mind has been going crazy with ideas variations. Like, on our math day, we are going to define words in terms of cookies or math. For January when we meet again we will use the school Cookies book and define words in terms of school, and then for Valentine’s Day we will do the Cookies book based on love, defining words in terms of Valentine’s Day or love. So, so, so much fun!