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Discussion and activities

Use these activities before, during, or after your video-based lesson on Having Fun.

If you haven't read our Tips for using video in the classroom, we suggest you take a look there first, then come back here to choose materials to construct your lesson.


Having Fun


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Sporting life

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Learning Activities

Everyday fun

bullet Fun Across the Generations Museum or Web Exhibit

After discussing what today's kids like to do for fun, interview someone in your parents and grandparents' generation to find out what kinds of things they did for fun when they were kids. You can use one of these two approaches:

  1. Use the Family Fun Interview (below) to get information on the same topics from everyone.
  2. Use this Oral History Interview process to learn how to conduct your own more open-ended interview.


  • During your interview borrow old family photographs, artifacts (like an old ball mitt, board games, collections, etc.), records, or magazines that show how your family members like to have fun. Take very good care to pack and move these family treasures gently.

  • Organize the information and materials you've collected to help you discover the story they are telling: How having fun stayed the same over the years? How has it changed? What activities cost money? What don't? What fun stuff does everyone in your family enjoy? How is everyone different in what they enjoy?

  • Make a museum-style exhibit--in real life or on the web--from the material you've collected showing how your family has had fun over the years.

For a more complete picture, combine you story with everyone in your class to make one large museum or web exhibit. Discuss:

  • What does the whole class exhibit tell you that your family exhibit doesn't? [are some families sports fans, others like collecting or making things, etc.].
  • How do different cultures have fun in different ways? How is everyone similar?
  • How do these questions suggest different ways of organizing your exhibit?

Good exhibits combine different types of materials to tell their stories. Start with the artifacts and photographs you've collected, then write text to tell your story and labels to tie your materials into the story. You might even use edited portions of your interviews on audio or video tape in your exhibit.

bullet Family Fun Interview

Next time your family gets together, ask several generations to tell you their stories about having fun growing up:

  • What did your family do for entertainment? What sports were played or enjoyed as spectators?

  • Who visited your family often? Who did you visit? What did family or friends do during visits?

  • What pets were kept? What are the funniest stories about pets in your family?

  • Tell me about the children's favorite outdoor games? Tell me about the children's favorite indoor games?

  • What outside games and sports were played at school? What inside games were played at school?

  • What were some favorite rhymes, chants, jokes, or songs you remember?

  • What kinds of collections did you have when you were growing up?

  • What kinds of music did you listen to? What were your favorite radio or TV programs?

  • What were children's duties at home? What traditions did the family have for making chores fun, if any? How did the kids invent ways to have fun doing chores?

  • How did the adults in the family invent ways to have fun on their jobs or during their chores? Or didn't they?

  • What trips did your family take? What form of transportation did you use? Why? What family trip do you remember best?

  • What holidays or festivals did your family celebrate? What holidays were most important? Why?

  • How were these holidays celebrated? What was "traditional" about these celebrations? What new ways did your family "invent" to celebrate the holiday?

  • How were special times like birthdays, anniversaries, new jobs, etc. celebrated?

  • How and where were marriages, funerals, christenings, bar mitzvahs and other "once-in-a-lifetime" celebrations held?

  • What were the "fun spots" in your community? What events did the community hold for fun?

Adapted from Family Folklife Interview by Susan Donley originally for Toward a Better Balance, Pennsylvania Ethnic Heritage Center, 1988.

Amusement park excursions

bullet Kennywood Yesterday and Today: 100th Anniversary Map

Rick Sebak shows you around the grounds, right here online in our interactive map of Kennywood, illustrated by David Coulson and originally published in Pittsburgh Magazine. How many of these rides and attractions do you recognize? Ask parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to share their memories of this grand old trolley park!

  • Visit the interactive map (255k graphic) and click on a numbered park feature to get more information.
  • Listen to Rick's WQED-FM Sunday Arts Magazine interview about Kennywood.

bullet Kennywood Cards

While you're strolling from ride to ride, watching people and savoring snacks, be on the look out for those photogenic details that distinguish Kennywood's historic buildings and landscaped grounds.

Preparation: Print out the paper versions of the 36 cards included here preferrably with a color printer on stiff paper and cut them apart. Or teachers may request a free deck of printed cards by emailing PHLF's Education Coordinator (include teacher name, school name, address, and daytime phone number).


  • Deal one or more Kennywood Cards to each member of your group or class.
  • While going through the park, encourage them to find the building details pictured on their cards.
  • Write where the photo was found on the back of each card and return all 36 to Kennywood or to Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (One Station Square, Suite 450, Pittsburgh, PA 15219-1134)

    An activity from Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

bullet Amusement Park Physics

Annenburg/CPB Exhibit Amusement Park Physics: What are the forces behind the fun?

Those old amusement parks, which trolley companies started a hundred years ago to drum up weekend business, are a great place to watch the laws of physics showing off right in the open!

The Pittsburgh History Series features several old amusement parks:

Use one or more of these video stories and a great web site by Annenburg/CPB called "Amusement Park Physics: What are the Forces behind the Fun?" to prepare for a field trip or class picnic at an amusement park! (NOTE: These are off-list links, so use your browser's "back" button to return to this page.)

The online exhibit includes explanations, a physics glossary, and experiments about:

Roller Coaster

Fast as roller coasters go, you might assume that a powerful engine is propelling them. But after they are hauled up the first hill, 'coasters move entirely on their own power, converting potential energy to kinetic energy all the way around the track. Design a roller coaster and have it evaluated for both fun and safety. Go straight to the roller coaster page.


Those almost out-of-control carousels! A combination of centrifugal force and acceleration makes carousels a fun, feel-safe first ride. Maybe that's why they never lose their popularity! Adding the motion of horses makes a carousel a much more intricate balance of forces than you might think. Go straight to the carousel page.

Bumper Cars

The colliding, jolting fun of bumper cars is brought to us by Newton's third law of motion, the law of interaction or action-reaction: When one object exerts a force on a second object, the second object exerts an equal force on the first object in the opposite direction. Predict the outcomes of bumper car collisions based on mass, acceleration, and the law of interaction. Go straight to the bumper cards page.

Free Fall

Many amusement use free fall, which is what happens when an object in moving under the force of gravity alone. Galileo introduced the idea in his famous experiments of dropping balls of different mass of the Tower of Pisa. Newton later formalized Galileo's ideas about mechanics into his laws of motion. Play with the law of acceleration with the Weightless Water Trick. Go straight to the free fall page.

  • Which amusement park rides rely on free fall for their thrill?


Pendulum rides, like a simple swing, let you feel what it's like to fly! The height of the arc of the pendulum increases the velocity of the downward swing. Learn about weightlessness motion sickness and try a pendulum simulation with variable variables! Go straight to the pendulum page.

  • What supplies the swing-like "pumping" action for your favorite pendulum ride?

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