I’ve written before about how much I love using a classic to spice up a lesson and expose my kids to interesting, older ideas.
One of the greatest successes I had was playing Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s On First” skit for my 6th graders to lead into a lesson about homophones.
Now, I had heard a million “who’s on first” references and was familiar with the skit, but I had never actually watched the full thing. It is absolutely, gut-bustlingly hilarious. There are many versions out there (I think Laurel and Hardy performed this thing for decades), but this is the one I used.
If you can watch this and not crack up, you might be a terminator:
First, we just watched and listened. Then I gave kids the printed script and they read it while they listened. I had kids rolling on the floor they found this skit so funny (and, sure, some thought it was merely “ok”). I mean, Laurel and Hardy have stood the test of time for a reason. They are very very good at this skit. But, whenever I incorporate a classic, I’m always surprised by which students become particularly obsessed.
Eventually, this led to, you guessed it, students working with homophones to write a small skit in which two people become confused by similar-sounding words.
Did anyone create a “Who’s On First” level skit? Nah. But I had fun. They had fun. They learned who Abbot and Costello were. They watched an absolute classic. And it’s the kind of thing they’ll actually remember when they’re much older.
PS: Abbot and Costello have an absolutely killer skit about division. I. Kid. You. Not.