I’m very proud to post my 8 year-old grand-daughter’s school project on my blog. Their class did an enactment and discussion of a famous story. In Part 1 the Lesson Objective was: “To imitate a story beginning.” and write down what they remembered about their lesson a few days later..
Her teacher’s comment on Part 1: “Well done. You have remembered all of this word for word.” and a 🙂
Part 1 – The Adventures of Princess Amber
Once upon a time, in a far-far away land, there lived a beautiful, but determined princess. She lived in a fairy-tale castle with only her devoted donkey for company. She got fed up and decided to go out and find herself a handsome prince.
The next morning, after a nice cup of tea, they set off. First they came to a dark, dark forest. Enormous trees silently watched the travellers – their gnarled and twisted fingers reaching into the darkness. Donkey shuddered. Suddenly an owl hooted and even the princess felt scared. Evil faces seemed to peer at them from behind every tree. Nervously Donkey clung onto the princess. Eventually they merged into the light.
They looked at each other and stammered, ‘Let’s n . . . not d . . . do that again!’
The next part of the assignment was: “To write the middle of a story.” Here then, follows her own imaginative tale. Her descriptive language was noted for example: “layered with sheets of white” reached into the cloudy sky . . .”
Part 2 – The Adventures of Princess Amber
Enormous mountains layered with sheets of white reached into the cloudy sky. Donkey slowly stuck his foot into a pitch black hole and pulled himself up. The whirling winds seemed to howl like ravenous wolves. A blizzard was forming, blinding the princess momentarily. Suddenly an icicle fell. Gradually the air got thinner and thinner, and breathing got harder and harder. In between the mist and clouds, Donkey saw a marvellous sight . . . a rainbow with his shadow in it! As if from nowhere, a twisted path appeared.
‘I guess we won’t be needing the compass!’ exclaimed Princess Amber.
She was wrong. A strong breeze made icicles appear from Donkey’s nose and tail. Slowly the slippery path began to fade into an icy, cold hailstorm. The snow was at least 10 feet high and believe me, it was scary. Luckily for Donkey, he was being carried by the Princess (so they could see where they were going!) Then something terrible happened. Donkey gazed down into a bottomless ravine, sending both intrepid travellers tumbling down! Donkey gasped for breath as a hand pulled them out by his collar. Soon afterwards they got to the top of the steep mountain. Luckily for them, the princess had brought a sled. They were off!
In the next part he noted an alliteration: “shifting sand”. And I was amazed to read that her teacher commended her for writing a short sentence for “effect” – “The sun blazed down.”
There were a few places which raised a question; “was the story too modern for a ‘traditional’ tale?” For example, when the donkey was ‘being carried by the princess’, as well as the place where they reached a ‘rubber-ducky bridge that smelled of chlorine’, but I felt both instances were justified and highly imaginative!
Part 3 – The Adventures of Princess Amber
Eventually after hours of walking, the intrepid travellers came to a vast desert. The smell of sand filled the air. Donkey’s mouth was as dry as the shifting sand below. The sun blazed down. One foot at a time, they slowly and very painfully, trudged through the golden brown sand. Princess Amber’s head was spinning in the heat.
‘Help!’ Donkey whimpered as he fell headfirst into an old pharaoh’s tomb.
Wearily, the princess pulled out . . . a skeleton!
‘Aaa!!’ screamed the princes whilst trying to detach the rotten bones.
Donkey’s legs quaked with fear. Suddenly an oasis appeared. However it was guarded by a ferocious wolf whose name was Dingo.
‘How nice to eat you,’ whispered Dingo under his revolting breath.
Donkey quickly clobbered him on the head. Taken by surprise, Dingo fell back in pain. After a nice long drink, they set off. A vulture soared high overhead, staring at the worn-down travellers. Was he waiting for them to drop? Soon after, they came to a rubber-ducky bridge that smelled of chlorine.
‘Wow!’ whispered Princess Amber in awe.
Donkey started to hear strange noises from the bare and barren trees as they dragged themselves along the desert terrain. Finally they emerged from the desert and into fresh air. A raging torrent sped across their path.
‘Can I have my armbands now?’ asked Donkey through chattering teeth.
Luckily they found an old and rusted boat. The river seemed to swallow them up. Eventually dripping wet Donkey and soaking Princess Amber got to the other side. There in the distance, they could see an enormous castle smiling at them. Out of nowhere, came a dashing young lad on a horse so fine that even the king’s horse looked ugly.
‘Come with me,’ gleamed the prince.
They strode off and got to the castle of kings. Whilst Donkey got dry (in the hot-room) Princess Amber gazed at the stunning castle. This is what she saw. Golden bricks stuck together with . . . peanut butter and towers as high as Mount Everest with candy torrents and silk flags waving about in the cool breeze. Prince Alfred invited Princess Amber in, but as soon as she felt his hand, she knew who he was . . . the man who had saved her on the mountain!
In due time, they were married and lived happily ever after.
-* The End *-
Here follows his final comments: “Brilliant. Well done. A high quality story ending and great fun to read. Please read to Year 2.”
These stories were written by 8 year old ‘LucyT’, my grand-daughter’s chosen pseudonym.
As a family we have tried not to “baby talk” to our children or avoid so-called “difficult” words, but rather to speak to them as if they understood every word, even though they probably did not, at first. Yet, they enjoyed being read to and as soon as they could recognise words, they began to read for themselves. Therefore, I’m very happy that my daughter has followed a similar route and we can see the good effect this practice has on ‘LucyT’. For example, I’ve not done any editing of her work. I typed the text which had no spelling mistakes – as is – leaving the punctuation as she used it.
My children’s series, FAUNA PARK TALES are written with this thought in mind namely, that children always need to be challenged when it comes to the proper use of language. They can only speak what they hear us utter. I’ve been told once or twice that the language I use in my stories is “too advanced” for 9-12 year old readers. I’ll let you decide.