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Forget Justin Bieber. Just Get Rebuses!

May 19, 2011

Have to entertain a group of Star Wars Rebusmiddle school kids? Believe it or not, rebuses can wow ‘em!

I was a new art teacher at an affluent private school in Virginia.

Three of us were assigned lunch duty to keep order in the cafeteria and police the area. Well, I remembered how bad it felt as a kid – having some authority try to control me and subdue my spirit, so, now,  to make fun out of work, I started a lunchroom contest among my four tables. Kids with the cleanest table and floor would get a special reward. Tables even challenged each other’s claim of “done!”

Winners got the first five minutes of the prize all to themselves – pages from my collections of easy, middle and hard rebuses.  (Gulp. This could go either way – they’d love it or I’d bomb.)

We worked a few rebuses together and then the winners jumped right in. I was amazed by their delight decoding the picture puzzles. Laughter or groans erupted.  They praised each other’s solutions. Their joy was infectious.  Other tables quietly craned to see, and then were allowed to join the fun. Kids pressed forward. Such enthusiasm!

After several days of this delicious phenomenon – a clean lunch area and throngs of engaged, happy middle schoolers glued to me, word must have reached the assistant principal, for her dour face suddenly appeared wanting to know exactly what sort of (ahem) intriguing materials I was showing the children.  I swear she actually looked disappointed when I showed her!

Predictably, we parted ways at the end of the term, but not before I invented one last rebus for my art classes. I made a clip art version below that you can use next month!

Myrna's Rebus #1

Did you know that rebuses have a rich linguistic history going back possibly thousands of years?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 19, 2011 7:29 pm

    Empathy + creative -dour = a job well done!

  2. May 19, 2011 9:51 pm

    Thanks Katybeth. So happy to share this serendipitous discovery! I assumed privileged 8-10 year olds had seen everything, and my little diversion would just help us ride out the rest of the lunch hour. I was truly surprised at their high fives and their engagement and their wanting more of the challenges the following day!

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