Language Play: Fair Season Language Games

Fair Season Language Games

I’ve never lived in a place so rich with fairs! We’re lucky to be able to go to so many. For my family, it has become a New England summer/fall ritual that harkens back to a simpler time when people got together to play and eat with their neighbors. Enjoying life together in this way, creates a sense of community so naturally. It combines the cycle of the yearly harvest with pride in our achievements in art, craft, food, animal-raising and gardening. It gives us a solid sense of identity and camaraderie. The thrill of the rides, the lights against a dark sky, the people of all generations surrounding food stands, eating at picnic tables, strolling, and running in the delight of being alive. All in all, a country fair is a great human experience. It slows us down so we can experience who we are again.

I remember the drive home from the Cummington Fair one year with my grandson. It was the first fair where he was self-conscious, even though he had been there before as a baby. Even though it was late, he hated to leave. On the way home, he tried to console himself in the back seat: “We can come back tomorrow night.” We explained that the fair was a special, once a year event, BUT we could prolong our pleasure by talking about what we saw and did until we got home. And so a new set of language games were born for the trip home…

One of my favorite language games is actually a math game. I call it “How many.”  The answers don’t matter; but it gives the child practice with question formulation, and numbers, and quantity concepts. For example, you take turns asking each other, “How many goats did you see?” “How many rides did you go on?” “How many French fries did you eat?” “How many people did you know?” You can model math concepts in your answers such as: a few, a lot, a couple, too many, several, etc. Or you can give the number: 4, 12, a hundred, a million, a billion or if you are
in the Silly Club (as we all are in my household) a gazillion, etc. The question “how many animals did you see?” can elicit lots of vocabulary.

Another favorite game is “Guess what I saw.” It’s just like 20 Questions. Someone thinks of something they saw (a Ferris wheel, an ox, a candy apple). Then you guess if it’s animal, vegetable, or mineral (great categorizing practice) and then you ask more questions and see if you can guess it.
“Who was there?” is a good memory and name retrieval game, especially if you knew a lot of your fellow fair participants. Start with your kids’ friends, then their friends’ siblings and parents’ names.

For older kids, you can read the history of American Agricultural Fairs. Ask questions after reading it (Hey, I didn’t know American agricultural
fairs originated in our very own Western Massachusetts! Pretty cool!).

Here are 10 upcoming harvest fairs and festivals happening here in Western MA:

  1. Three County Fair – Aug 30th-Sept 2nd in Northampton, MA
  2. Blandford Fair – Aug 30th-Sept 2nd in Blandford, MA
  3. Franklin County Fair – Sept 5th-8th in Greenfield, MA
  4. Country Fair at Hancock Shaker Village – Sept 28th-29th in Pittsfield, MA
  5. Berkshire Botanical Garden Fall Festival – Oct 5th-6th in Stockbridge, MA
  6. North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival - Oct 5th-6th in Orange, MA
  7. Festival of the Hills – Oct 6th in Conway, MA
  8. Granville Harvest Fair – Oct 12th-14th in Granville, MA
  9. Ashfield Fall Festival - Oct 12th-13th in Ashfield, MA
  10. Franklin County’s Cider Days - Nov 2nd-3rd in Franklin County

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathy Puckett

Kathy is a private practice speech-language pathologist living in Shelburne, MA and the author of our monthly speech and language column, Time to Talk. Living in Western Massachusetts since 1970, she raised two children here and has two grandsons, ages 15 and 8 years old. She has worked as an SLP with people of all ages for the last 14 years. She runs social thinking skill groups and often works with teens. As a professional artist, she has a unique and creative approach to her practice. She loves technology, neurology, gardening, orchids, and photography. She uses an iPad for therapies. She grows 500 orchids and moderates her own forum for orchid growers (Crazy Orchid Lady). Kathy is dedicated to the families of her private practice, and offers practical, creative ideas to parents. She blogs about communication at kathypuckett.com

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