Friday, April 30, 2010

The Mermaid's Pendant by LeAnn Neal Reilly

The Mermaid's Pendant

The Mermaid's Pendant by LeAnn Neal Reilly appeared in my news searches this past week.

From Framingham author pens a modern fairy tale by Chris Bergeron:

Dissatisfied with the ending of Walt Disney's "The Little Mermaid," LeAnn Neal Reilly wrote her first novel to show what happens to couples who "live happily ever after."

The Framingham mother and aspiring author spent almost 10 years writing, revising, rewriting and self-publishing "The Mermaid's Pendant."

"I loved everything about 'The Little Mermaid' but its ending. I turned this irritant over and over in my mind. I was a new wife, happily married. I got my 'happily ever after.' I wanted to explore what that meant," said Neal Reilly, taking a break from home-schooling her three children.

Especially well-written, her 572-page novel grafts the fairy tale love story of John Wilkerson and his mermaid wife Tamarind onto the more prosaic challenges a couple faces after the honeymoon when reality sinks in.
And here's the official book description:

Inspired by the beloved classic The Little Mermaid, THE MERMAID'S PENDANT is a modern fairy tale about growing up and discovering who you are -- and what you believe in. At times lyrical, this novel is a fantastic journey filled with magic, myth, romance, and adventure. Four years after John Wilkerson claims the mermaid Tamarind for his wife, they have an idyllic marriage that depends on a talisman that she crafted on their island paradise. But Tamarind learns a painful truth: it takes more than legs to live on land and more than magic to sustain a bond. When the talisman breaks, she and John are forced to rely on themselves instead of magic. Three wise women play key roles in the young lovers' journey to mature love. Ana, Tamarind's aging mentor, casts spells and performs seductions to keep the lovers apart. Valerie, an ex-pat jewelry maker cum fairy godmother, works her own magic to bring them together. Lucy, their widowed neighbor, grounds the couple in the realities of marriage, parenting, and family. THE MERMAID'S PENDANT is a story for anyone who has ever believed in the transforming power of love.
You can also read more at LeAnn Neal Reilly's website.

And that's all I know about it so far, but it is intriguing. Oh, and I learned that Reilly and I share the same birthday, but four years apart. Since the biggest celebrity birthday on that day is Melissa Gilbert, it's always fun to find others to commiserate with over birthdays that fall on Mother's Day or usually during finals week if you are in college depending on the day of the week. I've taken many a final on my birthday.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fairy Tales in the Classroom Week: Justice and Law

Fairy Tales on Trial

Books such as Fairy Tales on Trial have increased in popularity over the years as more mock trials of fairy tale characters have been used in classrooms from elementary school level to law schools.

I am sharing a list of some of the best titles to use for inspiration. I also occasionally highlight new articles about mock trials or similarly themed plays. I've found they are especially popular this time of year through the summer where several summer camps also use mock trials to teach students. It's a great and fun concept.

And here's some more books:

"Advanced" Fairy Tales on Trial

"Advanced" Fairy Tales on Trial:

Book description:

Students discover a unique way to determine the fine line between doing wrong and crime. They study character education by doing - using fairy tales and simulating investigation and trials. The activities challenge students as they use all language arts skills: critical reading, analytical thinking and writing, speaking and drama.

Use with the entire class, choosing an appropriate case by its complexity and appropriate level of challenge. The class creates all elements of a case and presents the case to another class, who becomes the jury. All roles are clearly described. Enrichment educators can use the cases with small groups of gifted and talented children.

Parents will enjoy helping their children practice their roles, gather props, and create costumes. The confidence their children gain in their reading, thinking and speaking skills will be well received.

Engage students in cooperative teamwork to create each case, to work as prosecution and defense teams, as well as to deliberate and make decisions. These same skills are goals of the U.S. Department of Education. They are also workplace objectives.

Jury Trials in the Classroom

Jury Trials in the Classroom:

Book description:

Transform your classroom into a courtroom and get ready for students to take part in a great learning adventure. The six trial simulations in this book let students delve into criminal and civil law with motivating cases that mirror situations in fairy tales, nursery rhymes, literature, and history. In the roles of attorneys, members of the jury, defendants, witnesses, and courtroom personnel, students prepare and conduct cases. They will learn to use statements of fact and witness affidavits to determine guilt or innocence. The book is divided into three sections that:

define the types of courts in the U.S. court system;
explain how to carry out a mock trial;
and give six ready-to-use court cases, including all necessary documents.

The court cases allow students to understand both criminal and civil trials, with three types of each case. The cases allow you to stage trials involving Hansel and Gretel, John Wilkes Booth, Little Miss Muffet, Romeo and Juliet, Jack and Jill, and Little Red Riding Hood.

Don't miss this opportunity to teach critical thinking and teach students how to weigh opposing points of view. The exciting results will motivate students to exercise their reasoning skills, polish their communication skills, and apply knowledge of the legal system. This will become one of your favorite classroom adventures. Grades 5–8.

More Jury Trials in the Classroom

More Jury Trials in the Classroom

For reference, I have a slightly longer list including these titles and more at Fairy Tales in the Classroom: Justice and Law on Amazon.

Fair Is Fair by Sharon Creeden

Fair Is Fair

In conjunction with my post about fairy tale justice activities for the classroom, I wanted to share this book, Fair Is Fair by Sharon Creeden.

It's a great book about discussing fairness, justice and ethics using fairy tales and folktales from around the world.

Book description from the publisher:

The first collection of its kind, this collection contains 30 world folktales of justice about wise judges, clever lawyers, and deceitful tricksters, from places as diverse as ancient Greece, Morocco, Germany, China, and Ireland. Some date back to pre-biblical days while others come from the American colonies.

A Malaysian tale in which each animal blames another for Crocodile’s broken eggs prompts a discussion of proximate cause and liability law; a Japanese tale about how Ooka the judge identifies the real mother of a baby is complemented by an overview of the 1985 "Baby M" child custody dispute; and an Italian tale about a mistreated horse gives rise to a discussion of the contemporary animal rights debate.

Each of these folktales sheds light on how our predecessors from various cultures dealt with criminal behavior, and Sharon Creeden follows most of them with commentary on how the same legal issues are handled by contemporary American law. Juxtaposing the wisdom of ancient cultures with the dilemmas of our modern legal system, this fascinating collection makes legal issues accessible and folktales relevant to our modern lives.

The book is available in limited view on Google Books where you can see the Table of Contents and read some of the foreward:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fairy Tales in the Classroom Week: More Science

As promised, some links to discussions about fairy tales and science. I've always loved showy physics demonstrations in which movies physics are debunked, for example. These articles take a different tact, discussing how what we assume in fairy tales is impossible might be credible in the realms of science. Or at least how real world science may have inspired fairy tale magic.

The Science of Fairy Tales by Chris Gorski, American Institute of Physics

Kids of any age love to read fairy tales because the storyline never limits the possibility that anything could happen. Curses, spells, and handsome princes reign in worlds beyond the reader’s imagination.

But are the most magical moments from some of our favorite stories actually possible? Basic physical principles and recent scientific research suggest that what readers might mistake for fantasies and exaggeration could be rooted in reality.

So suspend your imagination for a moment, and look at the following fairy tales as a hard-core scientist might.
The article discusses Rapunzel, The Little Mermaid, and 1,001 Arabian Nights.

Fairy Tale Physics: Myths and Legends Explained by Stephanie Peatling in for National Geographic News

Poor Rapunzel. Not only did she get locked up in a tall tower, but she literally risked her neck by allowing a prince to climb up her hair.

Such dilemmas had long bothered Sue Stocklmayer, director of the National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS) at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Stocklmayer resolved to do something about it, so she and fellow CPAS staff member Mike Gore, a retired professor, channeled their frustrations over fairy tale physics into a traveling science show.

Rapunzel's conundrum is one of the highlights of the show.

"We ask how it is that Rapunzel didn't lose her skull, given the weight of what she's [supporting]," Stocklmayer said.

"You might notice some of the enlightened [storybook] artists have cottoned on to this and show her wrapping her hair around something, like a bedpost, first.

"A small object"—such as a cooped-up princess—"can bear a lot of weight if the connecting device [her hair] is wrapped around something."

The prince is then technically hanging on to the bedpost rather than Rapunzel's scalp.

"So long as Rapunzel wraps her hair first, then the prince and she are Ok," Stocklmayer said. "So in her case, yes, it could happen."
This one discusses Jack and the Beanstalk, too.

Finally, Once Upon a Blog has an ongoing series of The Science of Fairy Tales, gleaning articles that apply to fairy tale phenomena. It's a great series and I can't wait for Gypsy to add more at a future date...

More About Instructions and Neil Gaiman

Although I posted about Instructions by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess a few weeks ago, I wanted to remind everyone that it was officially released this week and should be available through your favorite bookstore.

As an extra bit, here is an audio clip of Author Neil Gaiman on books, fairy tales, and libraries from MPR News. I'm embedding the clip in this post, but if you follow the link, there are more Gaiman sound bites available.

It's a great clip, so don't miss it. Feral children raised by librarians and all...

My original post has much more information about the book itself.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fairy Tales in the Classroom Week: Science

The Scientific Method in Fairy Tale Forest

I talked about mathematics and fairy tales in the classroom last week, but realized there are a few books for usings fairy tales to teach science, too. The best I've discovered--although I haven't read this one in person--is The Scientific Method in Fairy Tale Forest by Laura Magner

Here's a description from the publisher:

The Scientific Method in Fairy Tale Forest draws on fairy tales as the context for practicing the scientific method and learning scientific knowledge.

It combines reading with science, and therefore curiosity, critical thinking, inquiry, data collection, and written expression. Other strategies, cooperative learning, summarizing, note taking, and generating and testing hypotheses are integrated.

The activities in The Scientific Method in Fairy Tale Forest support the National Science Education Standards, Teaching Standards B - an almost mirror image to the scientific method.

Science areas explored in The Scientific Method in Fairy Tale Forest are:

# Earth Science -the sun, weather, light energy
# Health Science -anatomy, criminology, human observation
# Life Science -ecology, animals, biology, plants and life cycles
# Physical Science -chemistry, chemical change, physical change, matter, physics, friction

The Scientific Method is a wonderful life skill to possess with uses beyond the area of science. Once children are practiced in conducting science experiments, they can move to solving real life problems with the method.

The phone doesn't work. Why? Use a hypothesis. The phone doesn't work because the batteries are dead. Test it out! Your baby sister is upset. Make a hypothesis. My baby sister is upset because she needs to eat something. Test it out! Was it food, or was it clean clothes or a nap?

The goal of these activities is to teach and allow students to become fluent in the scientific method and encourage them and model for them how to notice the possibility for testing scientific principles in other areas of their lives. Science doesn't happen only in science class. Show them the excitement in asking and finding the answers to their own questions!
I love the idea of using fairy tales to teach scientific methods.

Simple Story of the 3 Pigs and the Scientific Wolf

In my research, I also discovered Simple Story of the 3 Pigs and the Scientific Wolf by Mary Fetzner.

Here's a description from the publisher:

Once upon a time there were 3 little girl pigs plagued by the tricky wolf, but this was not an ordinary wolf. Oh no, this wolf knows about Science and Simple Machines! The question is - does he know how to use them correctly?

Meet the son of the Big Bad Wolf and the daughters of the Three Little Pigs in this illustrated (ready-to-color) take-off of the original. In this Read-Along story, the son thinks he is wiser and more clever than his father and can use his scientific knowledge of machines in order to capture the three pigs for piggy jam, piggy cake, and piggy pizza.

Using his charm, Little pig, little pig, a new friend you ve made. Open the door and don t be afraid, the young wolf uses an inclined plane, a lever, a wheel and axle, wedges, gears, and a screw to catch the pigs. But the young wolf doesn t quite use his critical thinking skills along with his scientific knowledge!

The book includes a Science Attitude Survey, 8 Simple Machine Lesson Plans for hands-on learning, 8 Extended Challenge Activities, 8 Critical/Creative Thinking Questions, and an end-of-unit Assessment.

The activities are correlated to the National Science Standards and include Objectives for Students.

Mary Fetzner is also author of The Magic of Magnets.
Three Little Pigs is very popular for teaching science principles. It really is full of possibilities when one considers the science behind much of the story.

I also have a collection of links of discussions of science in relation to fairy tales which I will share later today once I am on the right computer again.

New Book: The Wager by Donna Jo Napoli

The Wager

Today is the release day for The Wager by Donna Jo Napoli.

Product description from the publisher:

Don Giovanni was once the wealthiest and handsomest young man in Messina. Then a tidal wave changed everything. When a well-dressed stranger offers him a magical purse, he knows he shouldn’t take it. Only the devil would offer a deal like this, and only a fool would accept.

Don Giovanni is no fool, but he is desperate. He takes the bet: he will not bathe for 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days. Beauty is a small price to pay for worldly wealth, isn’t it? Unless he loses the wager—and with it his soul.

Set against the stunning backdrop of ancient Sicily, Donna Jo Napoli’s new novel is a powerful tale about discovering what truly matters most.
I haven't seen any reviews for the book yet, but I expect the usual standard of Napoli. See a list of her fairy tale related titles on SurLaLune.

I haven't read the book yet--I'm still waiting for my own copy from Amazon as I write this--but I am interested in it since it is a rare novelization of an Italian Bearskin variant, Don Giovanni de la Fortuna. So that is all I know for now, but it is enough for me.

When I see some reviews, I will share more...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fairy Tales in the Classroom Week: Creative Drama

Speaking Out: Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children

I sort of fell into a speech and theatre minor during my undergraduate studies since so many of the classes in the department interested me. Two of the best classes I took were taught by Dr. Jette Halladay. One was Storytelling. The other was Children's Drama and Speech. I learned much in both, but Children's Drama was the bigger revelation to me since I had rarely seen or experienced creative drama techniques.

Once Upon a Time: Using Storytelling, Creative Drama, and Reader's Theater with Children in Grades PreK-6

What is creative drama? I don't dare define it myself, after all, I refuse to give a hard definition for fairy tales and I'm pretty familiar with those. I found a few excellent definitions online. This one came from Youth Stages:

Creative drama is an improvisational, non-exhibitional, process-oriented form of drama, where participants are guided by a leader to imagine, enact, and reflect on experiences real and imagined. Creative drama takes children’s natural world, creative play, and develops it further, using theatre techniques, to create learning experiences which are for the participants. Drama specialist, Brian Way states in Development Through Drama, “Theatre is largely concerned with communication between actors and an audience; Drama is largely concerned with experience by the participants.”
Theatre Arts in the Elementary Classroom: Grade Four Through Grade Six

KMR Scripts has one of the most comprehensive guides for teachers available on the web as well as many activities, none of which are fairy tale related: Creative Drama Workshop Guidelines.

Creative Drama for the Classroom Teacher (4th Edition)

Another great resource about Creative Drama is available on the Susan C. Anthony website. The site includes reasons for using creative drama as well as ideas for specific activities. Also see the Creative Drama and Education Resource site. Fairy tales are used on the latter page especially.

Creative Drama in the Classroom and Beyond

Many of the creative drama techniques and programs use fairy tales for source materials. Perhaps the best book with information about using fairy tales in creative drama is Speaking Out: Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children by Jack Zipes. The cover image is at the top of this page.

Product description from the publisher:

In his successful Creative Storytelling, Jack Zipes showed how storytelling is a rich and powerful tool for self-expression and for building children's imaginations. In Speaking Out, this master storyteller goes further, speaking out against rote learning and testing and for the positive force within storytelling and creative drama during the K-12 years.

For the past four years, Jack Zipes has worked with the Neighborhood Bridges Program of the Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis, taking his storytelling techniques into inner-city schools. Speaking Out is in part a record of the transformations storytelling can work on the minds and lives of young people. But it is also a vivid and exhilarating demonstration of a different kind of education - one built from deep inside each child.

Speaking Out is a book for storytellers, educators, parents, and anyone who cares about helping kids find within themselves the keys to imagination.

Education Week Continues and Other Stuff

Hello all, I took a few "mental health" days over a long weekend and didn't finish Fairy Tales in the Classroom Week last week. I will finish it this week with various posts. I fight myself from spending the time and effort on article length posts on these topics despite the temptation to be thorough. All of my internal debates also makes finalizing them hard.

But anyway, expect more classroom and poetry posts as well as new book releases this week as well as regular news and such.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Book: The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy was released last week. There aren't many overtly themed Cinderella releases this year and this appears to be an unusual twist on the fairy tale.

Publisher's description:

Sixteen-year-old Jess Parker survives by staying invisible. After nine schools in ten years, she's come to terms with life as a perpetual new girl, neither popular nor outcast. At Mt. Sterling High, Jess gets the chance of a lifetime: an invitation to join The Cinderella Society, a secret club of the most popular girls in school, where makeovers are the first order of official business. But there's more to being a Cindy than just reinventing yourself from the outside, a concept lost on Jess as she dives tiara-first into creating a hot new look.

With a date with her popular crush and a chance to finally fit in, Jess's life seems to be a perfect fairy tale. That is until the Wickeds--led by Jess's archenemy--begin targeting innocent girls in their war against the Cindys, and Jess discovers her new sisterhood is about much more than who rules Mt. Sterling High School. It's a centuries-old battle of good vs. evil, and the Cindys need Jess on special assignment. But when the mission threatens to destroy her new dream life, Jess is forced to choose between this dream realized and honoring the Sisterhood. What's a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn't want to wear it anymore?

So far the reader reviews are positive. I haven't seen a copy yet or read it, but it appears to be a good fit with fans of Meg Cabot. You can also read more about Kay Cassidy on her website.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Book: Worlds of Enchantment: The Art of Maxfield Parrish

When I posted about the new collection of H. J. Ford illustrations today, I realized I had missed another new book from earlier this year, Worlds of Enchantment: The Art of Maxfield Parrish, also compiled by Jeff A. Menges. Once again, it slipped past me on my long, long list. I don't have a copy of this one yet to personally review it, but it is another volume in the series by Menges for Dover Publications, so I have no qualms about its quality.

Publisher's description:

Best known for colorful portraits of winsome maidens, Parrish created hundreds of images for books, magazines, and calendars. This original collection spotlights work from the 1890s through the 1920s, with magazine art and ads, including the famed Edison-Mazda Lamp series. Book illustrations include scenes from The Arabian Nights, The Knave of Hearts, and other treasured tales.

Since I haven't seen the book yet, I'm unaware of the illustration list but doubt that any Parrish fan will be truly disappointed, especially since the Dover publications usually print larger versions of the images than found in the average art book on Parrish in which oversized thumbnails are more typical.

Also, if you are a Maxfield Parrish fan, Calla Editions (part of Dover) offers The Knave of Hearts, a beautiful facsimile of the original edition illustrated by Parrish. I don't have this title either, although I have two other Calla editions, Stories from Hans Christian Andersen illustrated by Edmund Dulac and East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North illustrated by Kay Nielsen. They are obviously facsimiles and the "plates" aren't quite as vivid as the originals, but if you've never seen the originals, you'd never know the difference.

Also, don't miss the Maxfield Parrish Gallery on SurLaLune.

New Book: Maidens, Monsters and Heroes: The Fantasy Illustrations of H. J. Ford

Over the last few years, Jeff A. Menges and Dover Publications have been providing wonderful collections of illustrations by Golden Age illustrators at economical prices. If you've ever priced an art book--or better yet a first edition of one of the original books--you know what I mean.

The most recent release is Maidens, Monsters and Heroes: The Fantasy Illustrations of H. J. Ford.

Publisher's description:

Best known for his illustrations from Andrew Lang's 12-volume series of "Color" fairy books, H. J. Ford also depicted historical figures from the Middle Ages through the 18th century. This collection features his most compelling images from works of fact and fancy. Half of the images are printed in their rare original full-color format.

Henry Justice Ford is best known with this audience as the primary illustrator of the Colored Fairy Books edited by Andrew Lang. Most of the illustrations in this series were black and white, but later entries included color illustrations by H. J. Ford as well. Dover also reprints the Andrew Lang series, but the reprints only include the black and white illustrations. I also have many of his illustrations for well-known fairy tales on SurLaLune. Finding copies of the color illustrations is becoming easier on the internet, but still rare in the real world where illustrations are all too often cut out or even fall out of early editions. (Someday I may describe my search for all the Elenore Abbott fairy tale illustrations, for example, a few of which I haven't even published on SurLaLune.)

While this new collection by Menges is not comprehensive, it includes many of the best of the color illustrations from the fairy books as well as other works by Ford. I didn't find an image count, but many of the pages include more than one illustration, so there are roughly 150 illustrations in this slim volume, sized like a sturdy, thick magazine. Overall, it's a beautiful overview of Ford's work and a happy addition to my personal library.

Don't miss other popular Menges titles, either, such as Once Upon a Time . . . A Treasury of Classic Fairy Tale Illustrations, Arabian Nights Illustrated: Art of Dulac, Folkard, Parrish and Others, and Goble's Fairy Tale Illustrations: 86 Full-Color Plates, just to name a few.

The illustrations in this post are of course by Ford and appear in this new book--there were very few overlaps between the SurLaLune online collection and what appears in this volume.

Now wouldn't a collection of fairy tale illustrations by women--such as my beloved Abbott and Jennie Harbour--be wonderful? Most of them didn't do enough to warrant their own volume but a compilation would be lovely...

Armstrong Floors Frog and Princess Commercial

Sometime in late March, I saw the following commercial on TV on USA Network. John, the husband, turned to me and said, "Another one for the blog!"

Then I went looking for it and couldn't find it anywhere. I searched again a few days later, but no luck. So it went on the eventual list and I hadn't thought of it in the last month.

Then tonight, Holly, a reader, sent it to me in an email. Someone had finally put it on YouTube. It's short, only 17 seconds, but the message comes across perfectly well.

Thanks, Holly!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Take a fairytale trip to Germany

Hello Magazine recently posted Take a fairytale trip to Germany as a short article about fairy tale themed travel in Germany, obviously. It's a nice piece and includes links to a Fairy Tale Route site. (If you click through to the site, note the animated Puss in Boots in the right column. At least Germany is quite happy to use a French fairy tale.... :)

From Hanau to Bremen, there stretches a trail of magic where childhood dreams come true. The Fairy Tale Trail, a journey of 600 kilometres on the map, but farther than that into the depths of imagination, leads back to the early nineteenth century to the palace where Sleeping beauty lay for a hundred years and through the forest where Little Red Riding Hood met the wolf. You can listen to the melodies of the Musicians of Bremen and perhaps Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will come out to greet you on your way.

It's ideal for a family trip, a journey full of magic, linking some 70 cities and towns from the marvellous stories of Jacob Ludwig Karl and Wilhelm Karl Grimm. The brothers were students of philology and folklore and their studies prompted them to travel around the country talking to the people. They talked to farmers, and wood cutters and women in the market, and they asked them to dig into their memories for the stories their grandparents had told them when they were young. First they collected the stories together in the book Tales of Children and the Home and then later expanded the collection in Grimms' Fairy Tales: the tales that are still so familiar to us today.

This is one of the trips I dream of taking someday, so I always notice articles about it and this one stood out as one of the better ones.

Tweeting the Tales: Hans Christian Andersen

April 2nd was Hans Christian Andersen's 205th birthday which I completely missed thanks to other distractions. I didn't see many other mentions around the web either, so I don't feel TOO bad about it.

However, Sarah Beth Durst--author of Ice, Into the Wild, Out of the Wild and the upcoming Enchanted Ivy--posted Tweeting the Tales: Hans Christian Andersen as a salute to him. (She was a few days late, too, so again I don't feel TOO bad.)

Hans Christian Andersen created some of the most enduring characters and stories ever written. In honor of his birthday, I am now going to trivialize his monumental achievement by retelling his most famous tales as tweets...


The Little Mermaid:
Young mermaid gives up everything to be with man she loves. Dies after he marries less fishy-smelling bride.

The Snow Queen: Young girl embarks on epic quest through winter and woods to save annoying boy. Also, cool ice castle.

The Ugly Duckling: Swan suffering from case of mistaken identity learns that it's more important to be pretty than loved.

There are more on her site--I didn't copy them all!--so do click through to read the rest.

And I've mentioned it before, but I'll mention it again, don't miss her Obscure Fairy Tales.

This is from my list of miscellaneous fairy tale stuff from recent weeks which I am clearing off my list...

Fairy Tales in the Classroom Week: Mathematics

I'm just old enough that as a student I missed most of the newer trends in education in which lessons cross disciplines, attempting to better teach real world applications, especially in math and science. I learned some of the teaching techniques and concepts as I dabbled in education classes in college, but I am not an expert in this area.

As some of you may know, I started out as a physics major and have always had an affinity for math and science although my career path ultimately veered away from those fields. Consequently, better teaching of math and science in the classroom is dear to my heart. I struggled with having very few good teachers in those fields--my father supplemented most of my learning in those areas at home where my interests were nurtured more than they were frustrated in the formal school classrooms I attended. I've often wondered how many students with natural inclinations in these fields are frustrated or lost due to poor classroom situations. There are great teachers out there in these fields, but not enough, many victims of their own early childhood experiences, I suspect.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled that some teaching units are incorporating fairy tales and folklore into teaching elementary school math and science. What a fun way to make it interesting all around for the math inclined and those who aren't as much. I have collected titled over the years--even if I don't own all these books myself. I'm finally sharing them here today. Some are more formal teaching books with lesson planning ideas and worksheets. Others are picture books presenting concepts.

Funny Fairy Tale Math has a sample chapter online here.

I also went browsing the web for more fairy tales and math teaching ideas. This page at PreKinders has several math applications that are useful for various ages, such as:

Fairy Tale Graph
Each child writes their name on an index card, chooses a favorite fairy tale, and places their card on the pocket chart graph. We count and compare the results: what has the most/least/same? I pick about 5 fairy tales for the children to choose from and place pictures of those fairy tales at the top of the pocket chart.

I also discovered Brainy Day which has ten books incorporating math concepts into fairy tales. Here's the description for Making 10: Stage 2, only one of their nine books:

The Big Bad Wolf helps Hoodie discover patterns on graphs when making sums of 10. But something in Grandma's house doesn't add up! Grades: 4-10. Classroom tested: Grades 4, 5, 7, 8.

Math insights: Students are surprised by the patterns that emerge when plotting pairs of missing numbers from equations like __ + __ = 10; how can we change the missing number equations so that the points line up in a different direction, or curve?

Grade-specific activities: In grades 4-8: Students solve missing number equations like __ + __ = 10. They roll a die to get the first number and calculate the value of the second number; t hey represent the pairs of missing numbers as ordered pairs and plot them on a grid. They notice patterns (the points form a line); they compare graphical representations of __ + __ = 10 with those of missing number sentences with different sums (like __ + __ = 8 and __ + __ = 6); they explore how we might change the missing number equations so that the points line up in a different direction, or curve? In grades 9-10: The above serves as introduction to linear and non-linear functions.

I'm sure there's much more out there, but my purpose was to provide an overview and hopefully some inspiration. For anyone working or living with children, finding ways to incorporate math into every day activities can be a challenge and a joy.

Finally, I have two lists of education related books, many of which will get further discussion this week, on Amazon at Fairy Tales in the Classroom and Fairy Tales in the Classroom: Math Applications. The latter lists all the books that appear in this post for easier referencing.

Except for the Amazon links in this post, SurLaLune is not affiliated with any other source and provides links for informational purposes.