Words on Words: Fabulous Fair Alphabet Game
This year award-winning author and illustrator Debra Frasier developed a marvelous literacy outreach concept, a Fabulous Fair Alphabet Game, to be played by children at fairs. If they complete the game card, they win a blue ribbon. The game idea sprang from her new book The Fabulous Fair Alphabet.
She tried the game last month at The Minnesota State Fair (that's Debra at the fair on the left of the picture to the right). Over 1.7 million people visited the fair and the game was an incredible success. You can read a story and see more pictures from the fair here.
The exciting thing is that Debra was looking to try the game out at a smaller fair, and partnered with DDG to help bring it to Farmington. Working with the wonderful folks at The Mallett School we have arranged for all the kids at the school to have a chance to play the game at The Farmington Fair, and to be among the first in the country to play it. I caught up with Debra to see if we could get some more information...
KB: Well Debra, thanks to your generosity every Early Elementary School age child in Farmington will have the chance to play The Fabulous Fair Alphabet Game at The Farmington State Fair. The community is wildly excited and appreciative of course, however that doesn't mean we can avoid asking for your take on the controversial "X Issue." Now in playing the Fair Game children and familes will be looking for words in what they see, hear, read, feel, and eat, that start with the letters in the Alphabet. The letter X presents a problem as nothing in the Fair starts with X. In the Fair Game you have a nice work around, asking children to collect a word that contains an X, such as exit. Many people, however, feel that a stronger solution is needed, such as officially changing the name of Sheep to Xeep, or developing a thrilling and dangerous new ride evolving running across multicolored metal slats and dodging giant round mallets, called The Xylophone. What is your position on the "X Issue?"
Debra: I think it is time to make an entire Fair devoted to X! How about X-donuts: the more you eat the more weight you LOSE. Or how about the X-Slide, you go down, you go up. Or the X-Coaster, the only rollercoaster that only goes BACKWARDS. What would the X-Bungee Jumper look like? Here's my challenge to your schools: Let's design the X Fair, where everything is exactly "X" ish!
KB: Xactly! Now if you only had time to do three things at the fair, what would they be?
Debra: Play Flip-A-Frog, ride the open "Sky Glider," look for the "Longest Bean" winner. Then repeat.
KB: Speaking of the longest bean, you are the writer in residence of The Minnesota State Fair, and it seems that each fair has its own food specialty. The Farmington Fair prides itself on its Bloomin Onions, gigantic onions cut to be shaped like a flower, rolled in flour and then deep fried. Is there a specialty from The Minnesota State Fair that we should know about?
Debra: Cheese Curds! They fry a zillion of them: little bits of cheese dipped in batter and then deep-fried. My daughter LOVES them. For me: a hot baked potato with a big dollop of butter, nothing else, in a little dish I can carry around while I look for the longest bean. Minnesota is known for putting EVERYTHING on a stick. You can even get key lime pie on a stick. Or pot roast…Oh - roasted corn! Don't forget that!
KB: At the Minnesota State Fair you had the chance to play the fair game with over 1.75 million people. Amazing! I understand that some kind of Fair Dictionary is coming out of your experience. Can you tell us a little about that?
Debra: We played the Find YOUR Fabulous Fair Alphabet for all twelve days of the Minnesota State Fair. As each player brought in their word game cards (two words for each letter of the alphabet), we recorded the new words in a giant dictionary. Everyday the dictionary grew larger and larger. It got harder to find a new word as time went by but EVERY SINGLE DAY, even on the twelfth day, in the last hour, we STILL had new words to add. Everyone sees the world differently and so we could grow the Fair Dictionary with each person's experience of the fair. Remember: bring words you see, hear, smell, taste, or feel at the Fair. I cannot wait to read Farmington's dictionary of your fair. Stuck on finding a word for a particular letter? The Fair Dictionary is also a place to scan the words and see if can find just the word you need!
KB: I don't suppose that The Fabulous Fair Alphabet Game has a motto?
Debra: It does! The motto is... "Leave the fair with more words than you brought!"
KB: We will! Thanks Debra!