Hi Guys! Hope you are enjoying your weekend so far. I had a wonderful Saturday that has left me energized enough to write a blog post earlier than planned. For those of you who are curious cats, I spent my entire afternoon in Palo Alto, a city where I grew up. I had a nice mocha in a French cafe (See HERE), then lunch at a restaurant specializing in Asian street food (See HERE), and finished the outing off with a story time activity at Books, Inc (See HERE). The books read during story time were Maximillian Villainous (See HERE) and Hey, Hey, Hay! (See HERE).
Today, I wanted to do “a” lesson derived from a literature series I taught to my 4th graders in Palo Alto (See HERE). One of the literature genres I covered was fairy tales. I dedicated an entire month to it. Students familiarized themselves with fairy tales by reading popular titles and discussing common techniques used such as similar plots and inclusion of magic. They further expanded their knowledge of the genre by learning how the plot changes as the point of view in each fairy tale changes (for learning how to add “voice” and characterization, these are great titles HERE and HERE).
My students developed their writing skills by writing fairy tales of their own using popular fairy tales plots and making them their own by adding a unique point of view. Some of my favorite papers showed points of view of inanimate objects such as the pea in “The Princess and the Pea (See HERE) or male characters such as the princes in “Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs” (See HERE) and “Sleeping Beauty” (See HERE). It really showed their learning made during the month.
Storybook Vs. A Fairytale
Something to know is that a storybook and a fairy tale is basically the same thing. A storybook is a book that tells a story. And a fairy tale is one type of storybook. While you can have a storybook that is about adventures, or scary problems, a fairy tale is only a story about magical beings and imaginary lands. Think about fairy tales like Snow White (see above), Cinderella (See HERE), Rapunzel (See HERE), Thumbelina (See HERE), The Golden Goose (See HERE), etc and you will notice that many of the elements in the story are make-believe.
A Writing Lesson (1st grade – 3rd grade)
Purpose: In this lesson, students will learn how a plot of a classic fairy tale storybook goes by reading Hansel & Gretel (any version is acceptable; See HERE). Then they will re-write Hansel and Gretel by writing it as if the witch told the same story.
Graphic Organizer: A good graphic organizer (See HERE) can help simplify the plot.
- Read a classic Hansel & Gretel storybook and fill the above graphic organizer with students/your child. (15 minutes)
- Once the graphic organizer is filled, instruct students/your child that they will re-write the storybook as if the witch re-told the story of Hansel & Gretel. You can ask questions such as “How would the story change if the witch told it?” or “Would you feel okay if some children broke pieces of your house to eat?” to help them. (5 minutes)
- Independent Work: Send the kids off to work independently and help them on a need-to-know basis. Given the lesson is for really young kids and each child is gifted differently, it is up to the teacher or parent to decide the length limits. There will be 3rd graders who can write the story that is 2-pages long, and there will be 1st graders who can come up with only a paragraph. You as a teacher or a parent know best! (25 minutes)
- Once the writing is done, you can check the newly minted plot for spelling or grammar errors. But, remember the purpose of the lesson is clearly defined above so it is important not to deviate from it to avoid confusion. (Decide if this step is necessary or not)
- A fun end of the lesson activity can be to read this book (See HERE) out loud written by an actual published author. (10 minutes MAX)
I notice that kids have a ton of ideas that they like to write about. Sometimes they are so full of creative ideas that they get confused and end up discouraged. As budding writers, that’s the last thing you want. There is a trick I used when I was a student in elementary school. I would divide my notebooks or diaries (whatever you want to call them) into three sections – “Good Ideas”, “Bad Ideas”, and “Maybe”. If I got an idea and I felt sufficiently confident that I could write about it, I would put it under the first section. If it was very challenging for me and I couldn’t come up with anything besides the idea itself, I would put it under the second section. This way if it came back to haunt me, I would know not to worry about it. But, then there were those rare moments when I was unsure about an idea I had. On those occasions, I would put them under the third category. These idea books were great for me when I wanted to write stories outside my class.
*Parents, please do not try to encourage an idea to go under any category. Giving them the authority to decide will build up confidence and help them with their writing woes. A great source for idea generation for writing is this blog itself. Check out my previous writing lessons posted HERE.