Hello, Spiky Firetruck

autobiographies, mad lib style

You know what one of the beautiful things that hasn’t changed about childhood? Mad libs. My students pull out the same little pads of them, on that cheap newsprint paper, that kept me busy on road trips as a kid, hassling my parents for verbs and nouns all the way through Oregon, my legs stuck to the seat with oreo crumbs and sweat. Maybe these days there would be better air conditioning in the car, and the oreos might be organic knock-offs, and literate kids might still be in booster seats. The freeway might be bigger and more crowded, the summer air smokier. But the mad libs: no change.

Excuse the nostalgia. It’s just always fun to find things I loved still going strong.

And anyways, I’m actually here to give mad libs a twist.

DIY mad libs

I love regular mad libs, and not just in the summer. But I also think it’s super fun to write your own. This works especially well for kids who already have done mad libs and know the basic gist. It’s a GREAT way to practice parts of speech, talk about hidden educational vitamins.

When you write your own mad lib, you get double the fun. Writing any kind of mad lib story is fun, but an especially awesome version is to write your own mad lib autobiography. We’ll be doing these as a getting-to-know-you game in my class this week.

It’s autobiography writing, parts of speech practice, and mad lib hilarity all rolled into one. And who knows what you’ll discover about yourself. You might think you are a normal human and discover you are really a spiky firetruck.

How to write a mad lib autobiography

  • Write a short description of yourself. A few sentences to a page is a good length. What you like, who you are, where you live, what you look like.

  • Write on lined paper, skipping every other line.

  • Go back through and erase some of the words, leaving blank spots.

  • Write the part of speech for each word you erased on the line below its blank spot.

  • It can help to be strategic about which words you replace with blanks. Some are more juicy than others.

  • Find a friend, enemy, or unwitting stranger and ask them for verbs, nouns etc

  • Fill in the blanks with their answers.

  • Read your new and improved autobiography and find out who you really are, you spiky firetruck.

An example:

Say one of your sentences was

My good dog Squinchy is ten years old. He loves to chase squirrels.

It could become

My___ ____ Squinchy is ___ years old loves to _____ _____.

       adj. noun                number verb         noun

You ask for a number, and adjective, two nouns and a verb and get nine million, nerdy, banana, topple, and spaghetti

So your new story reads

My nerdy banana Squinchy is nine million years old. He loves to topple spaghetti.

Does it make sense? Does it need to?

Do any of us make sense, anyway?

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