Summer SAVY 2019: Session 3, Day 2 – Stories Galore! (Rising 3rd/4th)
Day 2 of Stories Galore was all about fantasy and worldbuilding—the process of creating rich, complex fictional worlds. At the beginning of the day, we defined the fantasy genre, and learned that the magic in fantasy stories nearly always has limits. In Cinderella, the magic is limited by time (her carriage turns back into a pumpkin at midnight), whereas in in Aladdin, the magic is limited by quantity (he’s only allowed to make three wishes).
Next, we moved on to defining our target fictional element of the day: setting. We learned that setting involves not only geographic location, but also elements of time, weather/climate, and culture. While reading J.K. Rowling’s short story “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” we discovered that the setting also affects the plot of the story: As characters move through situations or obstacles in the setting, the story itself moves forward. From here, we went right into a map-making exercise, which helped us create settings for our own fantasy stories. The class did an excellent job of incorporating geographical, climate-based, and cultural signifiers into their maps.
In the afternoon, for more in-depth worldbuilding, I passed out decks of cards containing questions for the class to answer about their fantasy worlds. As they worked their way through the cards, the students designed fantastical animals, fantastical foods, and even developed economic and governmental systems for their fictional worlds. As soon as we had done all this, we started writing. I increased our writing time today by five minutes, and the class was just as focused as yesterday. When we were finished, everyone got a chance to share one of their stories, and it was so cool to see the complexity of the worlds they were able to design in just one day. Flying broomsticks, ice queens, elaborate systems of magical inheritance, and many more fantastical elements appeared. We capped off the day with a quick examination of one subgenre of fantasy: fairy tales. After reading Neil Gaiman’s poem “Instructions,” the class came up with their own rules for what to do if you find yourself in a fairy tale.
I’m really forward to historical fiction tomorrow. One quick reminder: if your student brought home a notebook today, please make sure it makes its way back in the morning!
Additional reading: J.K. Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Kids don’t need to have ready Harry Potter before to enjoy these, and they’re a great way to continue our discussion of setting.
An optional activity: Have your student map the stories the way I mapped “The Fountain of Fair Fortune” in class today.