Boredom Bingo 3

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

“What advice do you think I should give Sprite?” Paula had asked me.

I was glad that Sprite had asked Paula what she should tell Prudence about how to cope with boredom. I was not really sure that this was a topic on which Sprite should be giving advice to her buddy from the lower grade.

“Did you receive any training about how the buddy system works and what advice you are allowed to give?” I asked Sprite.

“Yes, they had training sessions.” said Sprite “But I was away from school when that happened.”

“And how does the buddy system work?”

“Well, as far as I can tell, we have times when we go to the other class and help them do a specific activity. I think the main idea is that the little kids know one of the older ones so that they have someone else to help them fit into school.”

“What are you supposed to do if your little buddy asks you a difficult question you cannot answer or shares something with you that makes you worry?”

“I don’t know! I missed the training days.”

“So what should I tell her to do when she is bored?”

“Well” said Paula “That is not an easy question to answer. People say that they are bored for many different reasons”

“Is she only bored in class or in other situations too?
She could be bored in class because the work is
* too easy
* too repetitive
* not an interesting topic
* the topic is not presented in a creative or humorous way
* not on a topic of interest to her
* too difficult for her so she tunes out

Being bored and finding it difficult to concentrate also have a lot in common.
It could be that she has a short attention span or that there is something in the class environment that makes her tune out, daydream, or become lethargic.
Is the room well ventilated?
How long is it since she ate and drank?
Does the teacher have a monotonous tone of voice?”

“It could even mean that there is something else she would prefer to be doing or that something happening in her personal life is much more important to her now than what is being taught in class.”

“You would need to know why she says she is bored to know what should be done.”

Boredom Bingo 2

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag


“What do you do when you get bored?” Paula had asked Sprite. “I cannot imagine you acting like the class clown or flicking paper balls around the room”

Retweet the Twitter Bird joined in the conversation “That is exactly the sort of thing my Tweetil would do when he was bored” she said.

“But Tweetelle always seems to be able to find some art or craft to do to amuse herself.”

“Tweetelle is autotelic!” I said. “It means she is able to set goals for herself, build the required level of challenge into activities, and keep herself entertained.”
I remembered the word from the excellent presentation about boredom by Michele Juratowitch of Clearing Skies at the VAGTC Conference in May 2015

The PDF of the slides for the presentation can be viewed at

“I must be autotelic too then!” said Sprite. “But Tweetelle does not get in trouble when she amuses herself because she is doing NEST Ed.”

“So what should I tell Prudence about how to cope with boredom, Paula?”

I knew that Paula would ask me what advice she should give and I had already been researching the subject. I had even contacted Michele Juratowitch for advice and she had given me a wonderful list of links to articles including

She also included an excerpt from a Commencement Day address at Dartmouth College titled “In Praise of Boredom”  by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Brodsky .

Most of the articles we found were useful for teachers, parents or practitioners to read but not really suitable for students and were more concerned with the nature of boredom than with strategies students could use themselves to alleviate it.

Sure enough, right on cue, Paula turned to me and asked “So, what advice do you think I should give Sprite?”

Boredom Bingo

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

Sprite’s mentor, Paula the Physicist was visiting again and was very pleased to learn that Sprite had taken her advice about talking to Prudence.

“You remember you said we would talk about boredom sometime?” Sprite said “Can we talk about that now? Prudence says she gets really bored in class and I did not know how to help her”
“I do not think it would be a good idea to tell her to do what I do” Sprite continued “because sometimes it gets me into trouble.”

“What do you do when you get bored?” asked Paula. “I cannot imagine you acting like the class clown or flicking paper balls around the room”

Sprite laughed. “No” she said “I play Boredom Bingo.”
“It is a game I invented to help me concentrate when the teacher is talking about stuff I have known for ages. You see teachers tend to repeat facts several times so that everyone will understand. And sometimes when the lesson is really boring Intellectual Dabrowski goes to sleep under the desk and I tune out and if the teacher does say something new I miss hearing it.”

“So I draw up a three by three or five by five grid and when the teacher says a fact I write it or draw a picture of it in a square. Then every time she says that same fact I put a tick in that square and when she has said it 7 times I cross out that square. When I have a whole row or column of crosses or I have crosses in all the squares on the diagonals I win and usually the lesson is nearly over.”

“Why does playing Boredom Bingo get you into trouble?” asked Paula.

“Well Intellectual suggested that I should put a few extra phrases in the boxes in the grid that would alert me if something new was going to be said or if there was something I could research later. For instance he suggested adding the word ‘like’ because it could mean a simile or analogy was coming which would interest me”

“But sometimes Intellectual still gets bored and goes to sleep and Imaginational Dabrowski steps up to help me play Boredom Bingo.”

“Imaginational suggested adding all the things the teacher says a lot like ‘literally’ and ‘actually’ and ‘Um’ and also putting in some words that I would like to hear so that I would not miss them if they were said. So I put in words like ‘astronomy’ and fractals’. It also makes it harder to complete a line or column”

“Today our regular teacher was away so we had a relieving teacher for maths. She did not want to go on to any new work so she reviewed basic arithmetic. She called the lesson ‘Amazing Arithmetic’ and she wanted the kids to chorus ‘THAT’S AMAZING’ after she said really basic facts. I did not think it was amazing at all and Intellectual Dabrowski said “Oh pleeeeeease!” and vanished under the desk.”

“So Imaginational stepped up to help and we added Amazing to one box on the grid.
Then it turned out that the word ‘like’ was the word that she used as a filler in the way some people say ‘Um’.”

“By the time the lesson was half way through ‘Amazing’ and ‘like’ and most of the facts had at least seven ticks and a cross out. I was thinking that if I swapped the position of the ‘like’ box with the position of the ‘astronomy’ box I would have a bingo! And I thought I could allow myself to do that because I do ‘like astronomy’.
And Intellectual Dabrowski woke up and said that Arithmetic was very useful for calculating stuff for Astronomy but the numbers were usually much bigger and followed by ten to the power of huge numbers. And, of course, the same could be said for Nanotechnology but the numbers were followed by ten to the power of minus numbers.”

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

“And then I realised that I had yelled ‘BINGO!’ out loud and everyone was looking at me.”
“And the teacher said ‘It sounds as if Sprite has discovered an Amazing Arithmetic fact. Let’s go round the class and each say what Amazing Arithmetic Fact we have discovered today.”

“And one by one all the kids stated a basic arithmetic fact and everyone chorused ‘THAT’S AMAZING!’ and when it was my turn I could not think what I could say that related to the lesson. Intellectual Dabrowski mumbled that I should tell her it is about scale and plus and minus powers of ten. But that would show that I had been daydreaming.”

“Imaginational said I should tell her how many times she said the words like and amazing in half an hour and therefore what the rates of likes and amazings per second would be. But I knew if I said that I would get sent to the principal for being rude”

“Whatever I said would get me into trouble so I didn’t say anything. And she asked why I had said Bingo and I said it was not important now and everyone laughed at me.”

Beginning the journey: Gifted 101

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop for August 2015 has the theme Gifted 101
‘For back to school, let’s share all we’ve learned with those who are just beginning the journey. Whether it’s your favorite resources, advocacy advice, parenting, schooling, homeschooling, acceleration… There are so many things we have to share!’

The stories about The Tweet family of Twitter Birds who live on Sprite’s Site Blog illustrate the beginnings of the gifted journey.

In February 2012 Retweet laid a blue egg and a pink egg and in March 2012 the tweetlets, Tweetil and Tweetelle, hatched.

By late March the tweetlets were demonstrating characteristics often
associated with giftedness in early childhood and their stories described parenting
issues and differences of opinion with Great Aunt Hashtag

Then came a series of tales about asynchronous development as the Tweet family commenced Flight School

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

The Psych-Owl-Ogist was consulted and we learned about characteristics of giftedness and social/emotional aspects

Next came the discussions involved in finding the right flock for the tweetlets
and the decision to continue with Nest Ed and the challenges associated with that choice

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

I hope that sharing these stories about the experiences of the Tweet family will be helpful.

To read more about the topic of Gifted 101 join the Hoagies’ Blog hop at