A Sustained Interest In Fairies

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Our students have had a sustained interest in fairies.  We began by wondering about fairies, reading about fairies, drawing fairies, dancing like fairies, and creating a space for their fairies to live in.  

Though we spent time creating our magical Fairy Land, the fairies have integrated into other learning areas within our classroom.  Today a student created a "beautiful restaurant" for the fairies, while other children were baking cakes for the fairies.

We were wondering if you had any ideas or suggestions for our Fairies and Fantasy Project? 


  1. Oh Joanne, fairies are very popular with us too. We created Fairy Lane in a local woods and families go to visit quite often. Here is the link to the latest installment
    keep scrolling back to the beginning.
    We've also created a Wee Folk Woods behind our school with doors made from clay with our grade 7 big buddies. Fairies, trolls, pixies, sprites and even a dragon live there.

    1. Thank you for sharing!!

      I will definitely show the students!

      Sounds so magical!

  2. Make a fairy garden!! Or even little individual ones in flower pots, which they can take home. Google images for some ideas - they're so cool. :)

  3. The Waldorf stance has a long tradition of fairies and gnomes. You could search in that direction online. My students love using Pinterest with me to look for inspiration. Good luck, sounds like fun!

    1. Thank you!

      I would have never thought to connect this project with the Waldorf Approach.

      I appreciate your suggestion!

      Love Pinterest too!!

  4. I adore the photos - such joy!
    I like the idea of fairy gardens, as suggested, and I would add a musical element. Chimes, tinkling keys, buttons on threads hanging from a ribboned branch... all give a little sound when the fairies (or wind) are present.
    Also light: glowing, twinkling, reflected. Pots with mirrors or glass inside to scatter light about in a dark corner. Everyday magic.

    1. "Everyday magic' What a wonderful concept!

      Love ALL of your ideas!

      Thank you for leaving this comment!

  5. Just curious...I recently attending a training session with Judy Harris Helms. She stated that we should not waste the children's time with studies of "silly" topics such as "princesses and fairies". Thoughts?

    1. Hello,

      Everyone has their own opinion about what they deem to be a suitable topic for investigation. In my opinion I cannot ignore what the students are interested in, nor call their interests a waste of time. I now believe that it can never be a "silly" topic if it matters to the children. They think that these fairies are real and make many connections to the tooth fairy, magic, etc.

      Truthfully I struggled with this topic, however, after seeing the quality of art, reading the detailed writing, and hearing the in-depth theories I knew I could not ignore it. Moreover it allows the students to connect what they play with at home to their learning at school. Not to mention how many fictional stories there are to enjoy and discuss!

      If we cannot explore fairies, then should we read fairy-tales? As adults we too enjoy escaping the real world through fantasy novels and movies. Why can't our students?

      Thank you for your comment,


      P.S. This is my opinion and I have never heard Judy Harris Helms speak before.

  6. Judy Harris Helms co-authored "Young Investigators" with Lillian Katz. It is her opinion that children need to be able to deal with project topics first hand. They need to be able to touch and handle artifacts related to the topic. Obviously, they would not be able to observe fairies, ask experts about fairies, read non-fiction books about fairies, etc. Therefore, she would consider it a "silly topic". Of course, literature about fairies and fairy tales can be shared and enjoyed. It is simply a topic that doesn't lend itself well to a study/project.

    1. Thank you for your comment and for pushing my thinking!

      I have not yet read "Young Investigators."

      I hear where you are coming from (or more specifically Judy Harris Helms), which is why I felt a tension to begin this investigation in the first place. However, after deeply engaging with the students and listening to their high-order thinking skills I am convinced otherwise. It goes far beyond enjoyment... It has become more than a theme...

      Inquiries and projects certainly lend themselves better to real topics where as you state can be observed, researched, etc. This is not to say that you cannot deeply engage in a fantastical topic. Maybe then it shouldn't be called an "inquiry," "project," or "investigation." Maybe then fairies are a topic of study.

      Our Fairies and Fantasy Project is our first Project or "study" of this nature.

      Stay tuned for more posts on how we've been able to integrate our learning in other subject areas with the engagement of fairies!


      P.S. I love to blog, as I learn a lot from the interactions in the comment section, emails, Twitter, etc. I never claim that what I am doing is the right way or only way. Rather, our experiences are specific to our context, our philosophy, and our professional judgement.

      In thinking this way, I continue to stay rather firm on my opinion about there not being such a thing as a "silly topic" if it matters to someone. I sincerely believe that there is no formula or one way for "inquiry," "projects," "investigations," or "topics of study." I will have to continue to research more about this through the literature that is available and our day to day interactions with students/learning.

  7. A main aim of project work in the early years is to strengthen children’s dispositions to be interested, absorbed, and involved in in-depth observation, investigation, and representation of some worthwhile phenomena in their own environments.

    If a project topic is exotic, it is by definition too remote for the children to be able to contribute the kinds of predictions, hypotheses, and questions that are at the core of investigation, and thus their dependence on the teacher and secondary sources will be increased. Ideally, project work is the part of the curriculum in which children are encouraged to take initiative, to influence the direction of their own work, and to accept responsibility for what is accomplished.

    Topics selected to amuse or entertain children (e.g., mermaids, teddy bears, fairies, or the circus) are more fanciful than they are encouraging to development of children’s imagination. In good project work, by contrast, children have ample opportunity to use and strengthen their imaginative powers. For example, they can share and represent their own memories related to the topic, predict what they will find before going on a field trip, or speculate about the answers to questions to be asked in an interview of a local expert.
    A topic is appropriate if:
    it is directly observable in the children’s own environments (real world);
    it is within most children’s experiences;
    first-hand direct investigation is feasible and not potentially dangerous;
    local resources (field sites and experts) are favorable and readily accessible;
    it has good potential for representation in a variety of media (e.g., role play, construction, writing, multi-dimensional, graphic organizers);
    parental participation and contributions are likely, and parents can become involved;
    it is sensitive to the local culture as well as culturally appropriate in general;
    it is potentially interesting to many of the children, or represents an interest that adults consider worthy of developing in children;
    it is related to curriculum goals and standards of the school or district;
    it provides ample opportunity to apply basic skills (depending on the age of the children); and
    it is optimally specific—not too narrow and not too broad (e.g., a study of the teacher’s own dog or "buttons" at one end, and the topic of "music" or "the seasons" at the other).