One of the best ways to acquire great writing skills is to study great writing. It may sound counter intuitive, but great writing is not only found in written form. Movies are wonderful sources for writing inspiration and a fun treat for kids when studying writing.
The goal of this lesson was to make the children aware of how authors describe settings in the fantasy genre. Since the mind can wander in a million different directions, the fantasy genre is the perfect one for this lesson.
Monsters, Inc.In the popular movie Monsters, Inc, the Monsters live in their own unique world. The movie gives many wonderful visual descriptions of the monster world which is both different and similar to our own. In Monster world, there is a business which makes power called Monsters, Inc. Unlike power plants on Earth, power in Monster world is generated by getting kids to scream. Like factories on Earth, there is a boss and workers with a variety of different jobs. Some monsters handle paperwork, others work on the electronics and machinery and others are professional scarers. After watching the movie, the kids listed a number of items which described the setting of the movie.
Patchwork Girl of OzIn addition to discussing the setting of Monsters, Inc, we discussed the setting of the Hopper's and Horner's lands in the book The Patchwork Girl of Oz. L. Frank Baum, the author of the Wizard of Oz and eighteen sequels, was a master at describing characters and settings. Each of his books are filled with descriptions of different lands his characters visit on their adventurous journeys.
The Hoppers are creatures with one leg who live in houses which are fancy on the outside and plain inside. The marble exteriors are decorated with elaborate carvings. They hop everywhere they go and they are afraid of the Horners. The Horners, are creatures with one horn in the middle of their forheads and tri-colored hair. They are not scared of the Hoppers as long as the fence is locked. They like jokes, have two legs, round bodies and live in houses which are fancy on the inside and plain on the outside. The kids had no trouble listing items which described both the Hoppers and the Horners.
Hedgehog LandWhen my children have free time and aren't running around outside, they love to play with their stuffed hedgehogs. They have given each of their hedgehogs personalities, and created many fantasy lands where they live. Vanilla is the queen of all of the hedgehogs. She has her own land where she rules like a tyrant. Among other things, she visits the supermarket in her very own diamond studded golden tank.
J.J. Peter is an inventor who lives in Vanilla's land. He spends all of his time in his room inventing. He doesn't like to socialize much but does tolerate Vanilla most of the time.
Inside Vanilla Land, Vanilla has her own palace. It is quite extravagent and filled with servants and high-tech inventions from J.J. Peter.
Since the kids play with each other in their fantasy world the writing was already done. The challenge of this assignment was getting the descriptions down on paper. When kids play, they are often writing. It can be amazing to watch.
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