When we did things, we did them big.
I think of our team and those jazz hands often, but especially at this time of year because of the Fairy Tale Feast.
The Fairy Tale Feast was by far one of the most successful (and most adorable) events we held – and teachers with jazz hands hold lots of events.
During this season of dress-up and fantasy, we wanted to let kids get into costume and pretend and learn something, too (because, of course, jazz-hands teachers should also be all about education). So we built an entire unit around fairy tales.
Over the course of a couple of weeks, we focused all of our language arts activities on fairy tales. We read and relished countless stories. We studied the elements of a fairy tale, problems and solutions, and point of view. We compared and contrasted characters. We learned fairy-tale-themed spelling words. We wrote friendly letters from a particular character’s point of view. Students crafted their own magic wands and wrote about the magic they could do with them. Mabel, our resident fairy, delivered overnight notes in her whirly-twirly handwriting, much to the delight of our enchanted eight-year-olds, many of whom wrote back.
It was a lovely and magical time.
Our culminating project invited students to choose a particular character from a large list of tales. As a class, we discussed personality traits and motivations and talked about how we learn about characters as we read. We then tasked students with a character study/ book report. They examined the best and worst things that happened to their assigned character and completed the report as that character, completing sentences such as “I was really glad when…” and “Next time, I think I will…” Some of their answers were pretty insightful. Even more of them were hilarious. They took their assignment very seriously.
On the day of our much-heralded Fairy Tale Feast, our characters paraded around the school in their costumes, took to the stage to share a bit about themselves with a packed house of parents and other loved ones, and enjoyed an inspired banquet of items such as Three Little Pigs in Blankets, chocolate coins, “poisoned” apples (with caramel sauce), pumpkin bread, and the like. Thank goodness for generous and enthusiastic parents!
I loved every minute of that event, and every second of that particular year, which was filled with love and laughter and friendship and wonder. Up until recently, however, I’ve simply thought of it as a perfect memory of my time as teacher.
I realize now, as I attempt to write children's stories of my own, that I can use many of these activities for my own character development. Who knew that my second grade unit planning would come in so handy as a writer?
I can sit down and write letters from the points of view of my characters.
I can complete the book report worksheet for any or all of them. (I’ve written the questions below in case you’d like to try it out, too).
I can even dress up as one. (Sometimes wearing a crown helps, too.)
I can examine fairy tales and my own stories with the eyes of a writer, remembering the heart of a child. I’m no expert, but I believe that it will help me do my best writing.
Want to work a little wonder into your days? Read some fairy tales, with or without your kids. If you’re a writer, read even more.
There’s magic in them.
Here’s to writing, reading, smiling, and fairy tales.
In loving memory of Beth Walton, the ultimate jazz-hands teacher, teammate, and fairy godmother, who taught me how to appreciate the magic in the everyday and inspired so many to be the magic for each other. Love and miss you, Beth.
Hello! My name is _____________________.
I am a character in a fairy tale called ______________________.
It was written by ____(insert your name here!)_______________.
My story takes place in ________________________.
At the beginning, things started out_______________, but then ________________________.
I had a big problem when ____________________, but it was solved when ________________.
The most magical part of my story was when _____________________________________.
The worst part was when _______________________________.
I was really glad when ________________________________.
Next time, I think I will ______________________________.
You should read my story because _______________________________.