I came across a book a while back, and I decided to try it with my eighth graders. It is called Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen. When I read it at home one morning after my own children left for school, I was laughing aloud so much the dog got up and joined me. The illustrations are a wonderful addition to the awesome play on words.
Before reading the book to my students, I had them brainstorm about animals and some common characteristics associated with the animal(s) they selected. I was hoping this would help them write their own humorous animal epitaph. The first couple of epitaphs went over like a lead balloon; however, each subsequent reading was met with more and more laughter (and moans). The students created a sequel to the book. Many of them were very worthy! It definately was a light-hearted exercise that I will probably repeat in the future.