This is an excellent exercise for a philosophy class or a political science class to do. I'm not joking. It demonstrates that if they can, people will pervert any piece of paper they can to their own means. Try it.

Okay, you've got a class full of kids, doesn't really matter what age, most any age group will enjoy this (trust me on this one). Really. Works best with either 1-3rd graders (about age 6 through 9) or 9-12th graders (about ages 14-18, though. Don't ask me why, but from 4th-8th, they have this surly attitude toward teachers that is Very Difficult to break down. Trust me on this too, it wasn't too long ago. So, you've got your kids all sitting in a room, and what do you do? You ask them to write down on a piece of paper (legibly, of course) how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This sounds awfully stupid, doesn't it? Well, here's the thing about it:

You follow the directions to the letter.

Assume nothing but what they tell you to assume. If they don't tell you to take 2 slices of bread, spread the peanut butter on the loaf of bread, assuming they told you to spread it on. If they say to "put the peanut butter on the bread", then take the jar of peanut butter, and place it on the bread. Same with jelly, anything else they decide to put in there. Believe me this is incredibly amusing. The idea is to see if you can possibly pervert the instructions in any way while still remaining true to the letter of the directions. An example is provided below.

Happy sandwiching!

This assumes you have the following things:

  • A loaf of bread
  • A knife to cut said bread
  • A jar each of peanut butter and jelly
  • A knife to spread these substances
  • A stable surface upon which to place bread, peanut butter, jelly, knives, et cetera
  • A working knowledge of standard English terms such as slice, spread, cut, torque, volatility, et cetera
First, take the bread and the bread knife and cut two slices of bread approximately 1/3 to 1/2 inches thick each. Set one of these aside. Set the other in front of you and remove the lid from the container with the peanut butter in it. Take the knife, place it in the container of peanut butter, and with the knife, remove approximately a tablespoon of peanut butter. the amount is not terribly relevant, as long as it does not fall off the knife. Take the knife with the peanut butter on it and spread it on the slice of bread you have in front of you. Repeat until the bread is reasonably covered on one side with peanut butter. At this point, you should wipe excess peanut butter on the inside rim of the peanut butter jar and set the knife on the counter. Replace the lid on the peanut butter jar and set it aside. Take the jar of jelly and repeat the process for peanut butter. As soon as you have finished this, take the slice of bread that you set aside earlier and place it on the slice with the peanut butter and jelly on it, so that the peanut butter and jelly is reasonably well contained within.

Congratulations, you have just made a peanut butter sandwich.

The illustrious rootbeer277 had this to add: I keep trying to tell people, if you spread the jelly first it wipes off the knife easier and there's no mixing of ingredients between the jars. But nobody listens.

Doesn't sound like all that bad of an idea to me.

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