Teaching the Trait of Voice Using Alice the Fairy
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12
Teaching Voice Using Alice the Fairy
Alice is a little girl with a big imagination. She is just a temporary fairy, but well on her way to becoming a
permanent one, learning many skills that permanent fairies must possess: flying high and quickly; casting spells; and using a magic wand, magic mirror, and fairy dust. Not everything works out quite how Alice plans, but she gives it all a try in this hilarious account of what it's like to be a fairy without all her powers firmly secured.
Second-grade students will enjoy this book for many reasons, including David Shannon's delightful use of voice. For this lesson, they work with the voice trait by imagining how they would use a magic wand to cast fun spells and putting their thoughts into writing.
Voice: A Definition for Primary Students
Sparkling, confident, unquestionably individual. These are words that describe a piece of writing with voice. Voice is the writer's passion for the topic coming through loud and clear. It's what keeps us turning the pages of a story long after bedtime. It's what makes an essay about camels fascinating, even though we didn't think we cared all that much about camels. Voice is what primary writers use to assert their own way of looking at an idea. You'll find it in scribbles, in their letter strings, in their sentences, and in their continuous text. Voice can permeate writing, regardless of where the writer falls on the developmental continuum. Primary writers are well on their way to applying voice when they exhibit the following:
• have something important to say
• create drawings that are expressive
• find new ways of expressing familiar ideas
• capture a range of emotions, from gleeful to poignant to afraid
• offer sincere thoughts
• are confident that what they say matters
• demonstrate awareness of an audience
• are willing to take a risk and try something that no classmate
has tried before
• apply original thinking
Lesson #1: Adding Energy
• a copy of Alice the Fairy
• overhead transparency of "Key Qualities of the Voice Trait" (page 5)
• overhead transparency of "Think About: Adding Energy" (page 6)
• "Powers and Spells" printable (page 7)
• drawing paper, markers, pens, crayons
What to Do:
1. Display the overhead "Key Qualities of the Voice Trait" and ask students how important they think voice is in writing. Take a vote by having them raise theirhands for "very important," "somewhat important," and "not important at all."Record the results so you can compare them to the results of a second vote you'll
take at the end of the lesson.
2. Show students the cover of Alice the Fairy by David Shannon and ask what voice they think this book will have. Serious? Humorous? Scary? Sad? Silly? Students will probably say humorous and silly-and perhaps even a little scary.
3. Read Alice the Fairy to students, showing the pictures as you go.
4. After you've finished reading, ask students what voice or voices they heard. They should confirm that the book is, indeed, humorous and silly, and perhaps describe it in other ways, including funny and hilarious. Explain to students that when authors choose their writing voices carefully, they are much more likely to create pieces with a lot of energy, as David Shannon did with Alice the Fairy
5. Display the overhead "Think About: Adding Energy" and go over it with students. Since they have identified the voices in Alice the Fairy, ask them if Shannon's use of phrases such as "permanent fairy," "temporary fairy," "doggin floggin biddle noggin," "strawberry Jell-O," and "Advanced Fairy School"enhanced their appreciation of those voices. Stress that when authors stretch for just the right words and phrases, or make up new words and phrases, they are engaged with the topic and, as a result, voice is much more likely to be energetic.
6. Tell students that they will be assuming the role of temporary fairy or wizard, and they are going to do some writing that will let them show strong voice through energetic ideas and words of their own. Put students into pairs, distribute the"Powers and Spells" printable, and allow partners time to brainstorm a spell, such as the one Alice casts on her dog in Shannon's book, and a power. Powers might include being able to fly, being invisible, jumping into outer space, talking to animals, freezing time, reading people's minds, and being invincible.
7. Have them record the power and spell on the printable and describe what happens when they cast the spell. Encourage them to think about the voice they want to use because that will add energy to their writing. Here are some examples.
Power: to make objects move
Spell: to clean your room without lifting a finger
Power: to make people fall asleep
Spell: to keep teachers from assigning homework
Power: to turn food you don't like into something else
Spell: to make all the vegetables turn into candy
Power: to make people laugh
Spell: to make the principal laugh so hard she or he forgets to give you detention when you're caught running in the hall
8. Have each student take turns reading aloud the description of his or her power and spell to a classmate. Then have the classmate act out the spell. Here's an example:Student 1: "I have the power to make people fly." (power)
Student 1: "Hocus pocus! Everyone wearing sneakers can fly." (spell)
Student 2: Acts out flying
Student 1: "Hocus pocus, back in focus." (spell is broken)
9. Ask students to return to their seats and draw a picture of themselves casting their spell. Have them add a speech bubble containing the spell itself and a caption containing a description of their power. Hang all the pieces for everyone to enjoy.
10. Review the overhead "Think About: Adding Energy" with students. Remind them that although Shannon wrote Alice the Fairy in a humorous and silly voice,there are other voices that writers use, such as sad, caring, lonely, angry, fearful,and peaceful.
11. Repeat the question from the beginning of the lesson: "How many think voice is very important in writing? How many think it is somewhat important? How many don't think it's important at all?" Record the votes and see if more students fee voice is important.
• For students just beginning to write: Ask students to think up a power and a spell and to draw it, but not to write it out. If possible, ask an older student to write the power and spell for the student on the page or on a sticky note so the student can copy the words for himself or herself.
• For students who are writing independently: Ask students to write a dialogue between a temporary fairy or wizard who is having trouble controlling her/hispowers and spells, and a permanent fairy or wizard who gives advice to the temporary fairy or wizard.