Genre Lesson: Fantasy
- Learning Goal
- Identify the fantastical elements in a work of fantasy fiction.
- Approximately 2 Days (50 minutes); Independent Practice-Ongoing
- Necessary Materials
- Provided: Elements of Fantasy Chart: Popular Fiction, Fantasy Finder 1, Fantasy Finder 2, Elements of Fantasy page (Student Packet, pp. 2-3)
Not Provided: Chart paper, markers, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Activation & Motivation
Select two student volunteers to play “Two Truths and a Lie”. Have each student share two statements about themself that are true and one statement that is a lie. It is the job of the student volunteers to think of a realistic or convincing lie so that the class will have a difficult time guessing if the statement is a truth or a lie. It is the job of the other students in the class to guess which statement is the lie by asking the student “yes” or “no” questions. The teacher will conclude the game by also stating two truths and a lie about his or herself. The teacher’s lie will be a fantastical statement. For example:
- My car broke down this morning.
- I love getting gifts at Christmas.
- I was born with small goat horns.
Ask students which statement is a lie and to explain how they know. Obviously, students will agree that # 3 is a lie, because it is impossible. There is no such thing as a goat/human hybrid, except in Fantasy Fiction.
will define “Fantasy” as a genre of fictional stories not restricted to reality and record the definition on the board or chart paper. I will explain that some aspects of Fantasy are realistic, but what makes Fantasy a unique genre are the imaginative, fantastical elements. I will introduce the genre Fantasy Fiction to the class by comparing and contrasting it with Realistic Fiction. While the volunteers in the game “Two Truths and a Lie” chose realistic lies that were as believable as the truths, I chose a lie that was absolutely impossible. Similarly, Realistic Fiction includes fictional (not real) stories that seem realistic or possible, while Fantasy Fiction has imaginary and fantastical elements where anything is possible. Therefore, it is important to recognize fantastical elements, to distinguish Fantasy Fiction from other genres.
What are the elements of Fantasy Fiction? I will list the elements on chart paper: magical objects, imaginary places, invented languages, nonhuman characters, myths, and a good vs. evil plot line. I will note that all of the elements will not be included in one story, but one or more are necessary to be considered a fantasy. As I list the elements on chart paper, I will provide popular examples for each fantastical element. Each example will clarify what it means to identify fantastical elements in literature. For example, in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s ruby slippers are examples of magical objects. They protect Dorothy from harm with magical protective powers. These are not realistic shoes but instead important to the journey that Dorothy is about to take in the novel. See Elements of Fantasy Chart: Popular Fiction for an example.
I will model identifying fantastical elements by reading the first excerpt from the Fantasy Finder 1. I will do this by identifying a fantastical detail in the story. I will classify that detail as one of the elements of Fantasy Fiction (magical objects, imaginary places, invented languages, nonhuman characters, myths, or a good vs. evil plot line), and I will probe further by describing this fantastical element. I will describe its appearance, its purpose, and its relation to characters by locating any explicit information about this magical detail I can find in the text.
Ask: "How can I identify whether a story is Fantasy?" Students should answer that there should be magical creatures, impossible objects, mythical places, invented language, or a good vs. evil plot line, to be considered Fantasy Fiction.
will read the excerpts on the Fantasy Finder 2. This handout has four excerpts from fantasy stories. Below each excerpt, we will record any fantastical details we find in the text and we will classify them according to the Fantasy elements charted earlier. As we examine each excerpt, we will discuss what makes each detail fantastical. We will locate and discuss the explicit information in the text about these magical or unrealistic details.
will receive a Student Packet. Throughout the Fantasy Unit, you will fill in your Student Packet as you read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You will start by identifying the fantastical objects, words, nonhuman characters, and aspects of setting in Chapters 1-4 of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You will record your findings on the Elements of Fantasy page in your Student Packet. (See pp. 2-3 in the Student Packet.) You will also use this Student Packet throughout the unit to complete in-class lessons and homework about the novel.
will discuss the fantastical elements that have been identified in Chapters 1-4 of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. These could include: Tumnus, talking beavers, the magical wardrobe, time not passing in the wardrobe, magical Turkish Delight, etc. Continue to pause in later sections of the book to identify additional fantastical elements. For example, when Edmund gets to the Queen’s castle, what is realistic and what is fantastical about this place?
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