Have fun bringing fairy stories to life!
By making a fairytale character come alive, primary teacher Liz Wyroslawska created a whole imaginary world for her pupils to engage with. Read on to discover an approach which can be used for just about any book!
Once upon a time there was a school in Bathgate, West Lothian where the teachers were really keen to find a way to encourage Primary 1 and Primary 2 children to read fairy stories. Along came a friendly Dragon who encouraged the teachers to try a new and exciting venture based on a ‘Joyning the Learning’ approach. The teachers were at first a bit anxious and worried. How would the children respond? What would the parents say? What would be the impact on children’s learning?
Luckily, Curriculum for Excellence gave the teachers the opportunity to try something different and the result was very special.
The magic began with a trail of green glitter dragon footprints and a message from the Dragon asking the children to help save his home, the Enchanted Forest, by reading fairy stories. Every week a different story was read and a new challenge for the children was revealed. Team work, collaboration and enjoyment were key to the success of the project. Tasks ranged from building castles in the playground from large boxes, writing wishes for the wishing well, decorating a tier of Cinderella’s wedding cake through to training to be a knight and learning about the life cycle of a frog. Families at home became involved, sending in favourite story books, answering questionnaires written by the children and finally visiting the Enchanted Forest created by the children. The final highlight was when children spoke to the Dragon through a Glow Meet. They had to decide on the very best questions to ask as the Dragon had only limited time on air.
As with all good fairy stories, there were many twists and turns. Responding to the interests of the children, the teachers found themselves speaking Dragonese and learning ballroom dancing. One teacher rediscovered her forgotten skills when sewing together 100 individually designed squares to make a quilt for the story of the Princess and the Pea. The story of the giant, Finn McCoul, even led to a group of children researching volcanoes.
The range of fairy stories is vast and the children listened to familiar tales in Scots and investigated modern stories too. An amazing sight in Bathgate was six teachers plus one hundred children dressed as fairy tale characters walking from Windyknowe Primary School to the Regal Community Theatre to watch a showing of Shrek.
So was there a happy ending? The children were totally entranced with the whole Enchanted Forest project. They worked well together, made new friends in their special interest groups and grew in confidence in talking and listening, reading and writing. The teachers were able to develop the children’s literacy skills through interdisciplinary learning and knew that this approach was successful. The parents were able to visualise the Curriculum for Excellence and saw for themselves the enjoyment the children had in their learning. As for the Dragon………… he flew off, happy in the knowledge that another generation were enjoying fairy stories!
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Windyknowe's project is featured in fascinating detail on GLOW: anyone interested in finding out more should definitely give the page a visit!