Handball: Vocabulary in Action?


Handball is big. Really big, if you’re seven,  and most likely, if you’re a boy. Well, I’m 38 and a woman and handball is still big…because I have a seven year old son.

So, the other day when I was playing handball with my son it made me think about a couple of things.  This was not the first time I have played with him, I mean, come on, I have to help him hone his handball skills in order to dominate on the playground.

Like any sport handball is a highly competitive game.  Even between a mom and a son.  I cut him no slack and give him no breaks.  We play to win.  We play hard. We sweat, shout, argue points, laugh and never give up on a win.   I know that one day soon he will surpass me with his speed, strength, and skills. You see, he is a kid that is not bogged down by adult responsibilities and to-do lists. He can spend all day, if I let him, playing handball.  I need to play with him while I can still win.

Anyway, besides being a seriously competitive sport, handball has about a million rules and moves. Some of them I already know, but some I get informed of on the spot.  Because I do not speak seven year old playground, it seems like the game changes constantly.   I feel lost in the vernacular of elementary school handball.  I am impressed by this foreign language.  Not so much the moves or the rules, but the names for them.
My son’s vocabulary has grown just by playing handball. There will be many opportunities for him in life to use words like black magic, white magic, red magic, slicey, super slicey, supersonic serve, sling shot, under doggie, liney, people killer, and the one I came up with, skid mark. I just wonder where all of these words came from and what 1st grader knew them first?  My son didn’t even know this game existed before 1st grade and now it seems as if he can’t live without it.

Of course, this made me think of education and how if we were able to teach students vocabulary in the context of a handball game or something similar how much faster and proficiently they would learn it.  There is something to be said for learning with your whole body and the mind body connection and learning in a real world context.  I mean, how much more real does a game of handball get?


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2 Responses to Handball: Vocabulary in Action?

  1. Nicole says:

    Seen…I love the blog so far! I’m not sure handball is as popular on the east coast! I’ve never heard of the kids around here playing it. Maybe I’m out of the loop! Do you need a wall to play?

    Keep up the great writing! I can’t wait to read more posts. How do I sign up to follow you?

  2. This is awesome. I’d wait in a handball line to read this. I remember baby bouncies and rainbows and waterfalls. Every time my son took up a new game in elementary school he comes home with new vocabulary. This post is a super smashie.

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