Make Your Own Fairy Magic!

Last year, the Fairies of Dundas made their way into our classroom (and our hearts) at a time when I think that we all needed them the most. Thank goodness for Kristi Bishop, a friend of the fairies, who saw this need and helped us get things started with a little fairy house and a note.

My teaching partner, Paula, and I had no plans for bringing the fairies back into our classroom — or at least not at this point in the year — but the kids have been talking about them since September. When a tree on the mountain became a fairy house, the fairies had to come back.

Initially they just left a note or two up in the tree. We didn’t think that they would continue coming, but when the notes stopped, a few of our children were upset. Why did they stop writing? How could the fairies not come back and see what they did? Of course, the fairies then had to return. With colder weather the wind moving some of the fairy creations around outside, the Fairies of Dundas wrote a note about moving the fairy village inside. Children eagerly began to fill this space with settings, signs, and houses for the fairies.

While they loved that the fairies were visiting the classroom now, they still wanted them to visit outdoors, so soon one daily fairy note became two with provocations for inside and outside.

Every day, the fairies leave notes for the class in special colourful mailbags that they manage to fly up onto the board. It’s the first thing that most students notice in the morning. They often comment on the size of the mail pouches — sometimes the fairies leave us presents — and regularly remind Paula to read the notes during group time. Every new piece of paper or writing material that kids find at their desks “must be left by the fairies.” While the excitement over these fairies is palpable, they have also resulted in some incredible learning and connections.

This started when children began to write notes back to the fairies. They had questions. They left their notes up on the board space by the envelopes, and soon the fairies wrote them back. There were only a couple of notes at first, but Paula and I wondered if the creation of a fairy mailbox could lead to more. Of course, the fairies provided us with the materials for this mailbox, and creating it was as wonderful a project as what the kids put inside.

The key learning for many of our children happened when the fairies explained that they could “help the baby fairies learn to read.” What?! They could be teachers. Soon they were slowing down as they formed letters, sounding out words to add along with their pictures, and blending sounds back together again to ensure that what they wrote was what they wanted to say. I truly believe in this tweet that I sent out a couple of weeks ago.

The mailbox idea though came with a slight problem. Soon we were going to have A LOT more notes to reply to. We needed help. And so we reached out to staff to see if anyone could assist. Thankfully one of our intermediate teachers asked his students, and they replied with a “yes.”

While our fairies usually write in rhyme and communicate as “Francesca and the Fairies of Dundas,” this has slowly started to change with some students responding in prose and all kinds of different fairies introducing themselves. The kids can’t wait to see the fairy notes each morning, and often discuss them with each other while reading them with us.

The topic of gender even came back into play, as some students began to reply to fairy notes with ones of their own. We love how our classroom learning is starting to present itself in different ways.

These amazing fairies are not only responding to our many notes and works of art, but also encouraging more note writing.

The fairies are also playing with word choice and different writing forms, as they create beautiful poems and prose for our eager kindergarteners. How lovely and thought-provoking is the poem at the bottom of this letter?!

Based on what our students share, these fairies are also learning how to respond to artwork and consider the elements of design in their responses. There are learning opportunities here for everyone and every subject!

But maybe best of all, the Fairies of Dundas are as excited to write to our kids as our kids are to write to them. In fact, we now have fairies from two different classes, as more students asked to write. Yesterday, one of the intermediate teachers told us that a parent emailed him to say that being a fairy is what’s getting her child to school each day. She loves it! This makes me want to cry happy tears and never have this fairy magic end!

As the holidays are upon us, and the Elves on the Shelf make their way into classrooms around the world, what about making your own fairy moments instead? These fairies celebrate multiple holidays, write back to everyone, connect in a COVID-safe way, inspire reading and writing by even the most reluctant of learners, and continually seem to sprinkle joy without fear. Maybe they will even make my Grinch heart grow a couple of sizes bigger! πŸ™‚ Could we all use a little magic in our lives?


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