Scene and Herd

‘Venery’ is the terminology used for a group of a specific animal species. For example, a group of lions is called a ‘pride’, and group of fish is called a ‘school’, and a group of peacocks is called an ‘ostentation’. Almost all such terms also have another distinct meaning outside the animal kingdom. Pride is feeling of dignity and importance; school is the place where students learn and teachers teach; and ostentation is a display intended to impress others.

In this project, students will combine the two meanings (to a humorous effect).

Learn

Place students into pairs, then tell them to find the venery term for one animal species. They might select a species they like first, then find the venery term for that species, or they might browse a large list of venery terms and select whichever one amuses them.

It turns out that ‘venery’ has another meaning which is unsuitable in the classroom and for younger students. If students are searching the web for these terms, make sure safe search is on. Another option is to print off a list ahead of time and let students select from that list.

Once each pair of students has discovered their venery term, they should then search the dictionary for another meaning of that word; if multiple definitions are available, students should go with the one that appears to be the most common (probably the first one). They should then write down that definition.

And just like that, students have learned two definitions that they can share with the rest of the class.

Combine

Next, students should find a way to merge the two definitions; show the animals engaging in the other (probably more common) definition. Students can do this by drawing a picture, putting on a sketch, writing a two-paragraph story, telling a joke, or whatever you and they would like to do.

For example, one pair might show fish sitting at desks in a fish classroom, while another pair might draw a few giraffes standing on top of one another (for a tower of giraffes), and another talks about owls passing laws, or hares with their shoes untied.

As always, the pairs of students should take turns presenting their combos to the rest of the class.

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