A “spoonerism” happens when a speaker mixes up the initial sounds of two or more words in a sentence. For example: “The Lord is a shoving leopard” should be “The Lord is a loving shepherd.” It was named after Doctor William Spooner of New College, Oxford (1844–1930), who had a nervous habit of mixing up the syllables of his words. A couple of unintentional slip-ups in his lectures started a trend among students and before you could say “well–boiled icicle” (well–oiled bicycle), the public had named such humorous mishaps after him. This absent-minded professor was so well loved that there is even a holiday in his honor: Spoonerism Day is celebrated on July 22. What a great thing to have an entire day to celebrate our silly mix–ups. We all need a reason to smile.
Dress up as an absent–minded professor and teach your “students” all about Dr. Spooner and the term spoonerism. Ahead of time, inform the women that the uniform for this special school is funny, mixed-up clothing with different patterns and crazy color combinations. Schedule the program like school with craft time, snack time, story time, and recess (game time). Ring a bell when moving on from one segment to the next. The Internet has a lot of information about William Spooner and some funny videos about spoonerisms. Be sure to screen the videos ahead of time for content. Two great books to read to the group are, “Runny Babbit” by Shel Silverstein and “The Rails I Tote” by Christopher Manson. Both are available at amazon.com.
This is a great opportunity to use all the items in your supply closet that don’t match. Use weird wrapping paper as table covers paired with super hero plates and orange napkins. Write spoonerisms on small chalk boards and use as the centerpieces. Place a cookie in a treat bag labeled: “You’re one Cart Smookie!” and give as prizes or as table favors.
Following the mixed up theme serve mixed nuts, fruit salad, trail mix, casseroles, seven layer dips or seven layer cookie bars. Put signs up with the spoonerized names of each food item.
Spreading Smiles! Take plastic spoons and dip them in melted chocolate. Before the chocolate hardens, sprinkle them with crushed peppermint chopped nuts, mini–chocolate chips, or sprinkles. Once dried, add tags with a spoonerism on one side such as: “Spoonerisms make for Sunny Flips!” On the other side, put Numbers 6:25 “May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.”Beneath the verse, add a note saying, “When you enjoy your cup of coffee today, know that the thought of you makes me smile!” Ask some of the women to deliver or mail the spoons to women who haven’t been to a meeting in a while or to a friend who needs encouragement. Invite the women to make a number of spoons so there will be plenty to give away.
Give the women a list of phrases for them to turn into spoonerisms. Or ask them to unscramble the spoonerisms. There are examples of the Internet. One site is: http//www.fun-withwords.com/spoon_example.html
Save this fast–paced card game until the end of the program, as it will get exciting. You can find the rules at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoons
We’ve had a lot of fun today. These crazy mixed up phrases caused a lot of smiles and laughter. Did you know that you can bring a smile to God’s face? As His child, He delights in you. He wants you to know that you have His favor and He loves you. Did you say to yourself: “Me, No way! God’s so perfect and holy that there’s no way that mixed–up me makes Him smile. I’m not good at anything and I always mess up.”
When I was a little girl, my singing company competed in a competition. The song chosen was “From the Inside Out” by the Bill Gaither Trio. (Play the song, which is available on YouTube). At the time I didn’t fully understand the lyrics but they have stuck in my brain all these years and have been a great comfort to me. The lyrics talk about how God doesn’t focus on our outward appearance or imperfections. He looks at our hearts. Don’t ever think that because you’re not “perfect” by the world’s standards that you are not treasured by your Heavenly Father. To Him you are imperfectly perfect.
God uses the not-so-perfect people to show others His power. For example, Moses told God that he was “slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10), but God promised to help him and teach him what to say. Moses, and his mixed-up speech successfully led God’s people out of captivity. We may mix up our words, put our “moots in our fouths,” but God can do great things through us if we are willing for Him to use us. Even the Israelites, God’s chosen people, got things mixed up over and over again. Yet, God treasured them. Listen to what God told the priests to say to His people: “May the Lord bless you and protect you! May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favor and give you peace” (Num. 6:24–26). God treasures you and shares in your laughter. I’m so glad we have a Father who smiles at the thought of us.