First Aid for Fairies - baddies, board games and beasts

Lari Don
Category: Live Literature

“Clip clop clip, scrape. Clip clop clip scrape…” and so begins the adventures of Helen and the many fabled beasts in Lari Don's novel, First Aid for Fairies and Other Fabled Beasts. It also marked the starting point for 32 Primary 6 pupils as they embarked on their cross-curricular novel study.

Earlier in the term, the children had been learning all about Scotland –the geography, customs, festivals, myths and legends. This novel tied in with the work we had done in class because it was set in Scotland and highlighted various mythical creatures and legends. It was a perfect match!

We read the book together in class and as the children got to know the characters and listened to and discussed the riddles and adventures, they were able to write, using the novel as a context.

Character Profiles created by the pupils
Amongst other things, we:
  • created character profiles using the descriptions in the novel to bring the characters alive in pictorial form;
  • designed Wanted posters to help catch the “baddie” –the Master of the Maze;
  • wrote instructions for how to fly on a dragon’s back, just like Helen had to do in the novel;
  • wrote recipe poems in the style of Lavender’s spells.

Our novel study was not just limited to writing; the children also looked at maps of Scotland and plotted the locations and journeys read about in the novel, drew aerial views of these locations just as Sapphire would have seen them and researched selkies and other myths and legends associated with Scotland.

One of the final tasks the children did was to create and design board games based on the novel. This really let the children’s imaginations run riot and was by far the most successful aspect of the novel study. We had Snakes and Weasels based on baddies from the novel and a version of Cluedo where Lavender the fairy is kidnapped and where one of the weapons is a jam jar because she is so small! There were also games of Minopoly (based on the Minotaur) and games based on the locations found in the novel.

'Minopoly' game based on Lari Don's book
The children by now knew the novel really well and had produced quality work. It seemed appropriate and fitting to round off this novel study with a visit to the class from the author herself. This was my main reason for applying for Live Literature funding –to allow the children to meet the author whose words they had been reading and whose ideas they had used to create drawings, writing and games.

The visit was a huge success. Lari read to the children and spoke to them about her work and First Aid in particular. She recounted myths new to the children and looked at all of the work they had done; she was especially thrilled with the children’s board games.  

One child said to me afterwards that she could now read more of Lari’s books with Lari’s voice in her head. Another, that she loved hearing Lari reading her own words.

The benefits to this session with the author have been great. Far more children are now reading for pleasure and there is an enthusiasm for reading that there hadn’t been previously. It was a very successful novel study and Live Literature session that I would definitely hope to repeat.


Rhona Findlay

Rhona is a teacher at Inverkip Primary School.