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Fairy Tales Hone Writing Skills

Offbeat realities have found their place in the classroom.

Ridgeview Elementary second-graders recently explored the depths of their imaginations by writing their own fairy tales, which were then merged with the virtual world of social media.

The student-generated tales were grounded in gaining real-world skills in writing and how to complete a project.

During the three-week assignment, the 26 second-graders in teacher Sheila VanderLeest’s class used iPads to record themselves narrating their fairy tales, which were uploaded to an invite-only website so parents, teachers and fellow classmates could enjoy the three- to seven-minute projects.

The project required the students to learn the elements most fairy tales include such as good versus evil, to start their stories with “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after” and perhaps most important, thread throughout a problem or conflict their characters must resolve.

They also drew pictures that matched their tales’ themes and created author pages.

Beware of Evil Skunks

Second-grader Erin Alster’s tale, “The Story of Larry The Evil Skunk,” is about a stinky mammal who tries to kidnap the king and queen, who just happen to be bunnies. Larry intends to stake his own empire.

“He’s evil because Larry wants to take over the kingdom that’s in a magical forest,” Erin said. “It’s pretty cool. You can make your own fairy tale and can see the article and pictures and hear yourself tell your story.”

Second-grader Lucas Way’s tale, “The Kingdom,” is based on his zeal for fire-breathing, three-headed dragons and the drama they create when a prince tries to rescue a princess they have taken prisoner.

“Writing a fairy tale helps me to think about what other fairy tales are about, and that helps me with reading,” Lucas said. “And I like dragons. They breathe fire. That was the coolest part: creating a dragon that has three heads.”

Using fairy tales as educational background serves several purposes, VanderLeest said. Even though they’ve been around for centuries, fairy tales spark students’ imaginations. They also learn ethics, how to solve conflicts and broaden their cultural horizons.

“Some found photos on the Internet in Africa and China, because there are versions of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ in those parts of the world,” VanderLeest said.

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