Odyssey of the Mind Curriculum Activity: HEALTHY HUMOR

Objective: Students will explore the physical and emotional effects of laughing, use their creativity to conduct a "Pro-Laughter" campaign, and learn to evaluate results.
Secondary Goals:
physiological effects of humor effect of humor on personality and experience
marketing techniques surveying
Prep Time
30 minutes

-- Class
-- Groups
-- Individuals

--DVD/VHS player
Discuss humor and the role it plays in the students' lives. Note the breadth of outlets for humor with examples such as "Laughter is the Best Medicine" from Reader's Digest© and adages such as, "When you laugh the world laughs with you" and, "It take less muscles to smile than it does to frown."

Ask for volunteers to tell their favorite joke then discuss what makes a joke funny. Provide a few "punch lines" and ask each student to create a joke using one of them. Have each student tell his or her joke to the class while the rest of the class rates it from 1 to 10, 10 being the funniest. The joke with the highest score should be considered the funniest. Discuss what makes it funny.

Ask students to bring in a humorous scene from a movie and show them to the class. Examine differences between visual humor and joke telling, and discuss what makes each scene humorous -- is it dialog, slapstick, silliness, and so on.

Divide the class into four groups and assign each group to investigate one of the following categories:
-- Physical effects of laughing
-- Emotional impact of laughing
-- Emotional impact of not laughing
-- How someone's laughter impacts others
Ask the groups to present their findings to the class. Then lead a discussion about the results. Have the groups act out scenarios that test and/or support their findings.

Have the class brainstorm and list questions that evoke answers that determine a person's state of mind regarding happiness and optimism. Discuss the list and generate 5 - 10 questions to use in a survey that will record the general happiness of the person filling it out, for example, "When you woke up this morning how excited were you to start your day?" The choices for answers should be a sliding scale such as very, somewhat, not much, not at all. Ask the school student body and teachers to take the survey and tally the responses.

Have the class create a "Pro-Laughter" campaign that (1) says laughter is healthy, (2) makes people laugh, and (3) makes people want to make others laugh. The promotion should include signs, mottos, handouts, etc., but challenge students to use as many creative methods as possible. Conduct the promotion for 2-4 weeks. At the end of that period, have the student body and teachers retake the survey. Compare results and discuss the effectiveness of the promotion.