Spellbinders: The Wizardry of Words

Your lesson will take place in the Reading Adventureland exhibit. Step into a gigantic pop-up book as you follow the Yellow Brick Road into five literary landscapes from children’s books: Adventure Island, Mystery Mansion, Fairy Tale Forest, the Upside-Down Nonsense House, and the Wizard’s Workshop. Students will have lots of hands-on fun that inspires them to laugh, play, learn, and READ!

Lesson extensions for before or after your visit

Good writers exercise their senses. They focus on what they see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. Then they translate their sensory experiences into words that the readers can easily translate back into the real world.

In their visit to the museum, your students will be engaged in focusing on the core question, “How do writers take us away with words?” The following suggested activities will help your students extend their museum experience.

Bus ride game

Have students play “I Spy” on the bus ride to the museum substituting the senses of sound, smell, and touch for sight. Example: I spy with my sense of touch something ________.

Sensory image

Have students select an illustration from one of their favorite fantasy novels (see suggestions below). Students take turns describing the image to each other using each of the five senses.

Sensory object

Pass around a common household object. Students take turns using different words to describe it. Describe how it feels, how it looks, how it might sound. How long can you pass the object without repeating a word?

Sensory music

Choose a piece of instrumental music to have your students listen to (works by American composer Aaron Copeland are one possibility). Have students describe the scene they imagine in writing. Be sure to have them include what they see, hear, smell, taste, or feel.

Sensory writing

Give each student a Hershey’s Kiss (or another piece of wrapped candy). Tell the students to imagine that they have never seen the piece of candy before and have never heard of a Hershey’s Kiss before.

Have students free write a series of descriptive passages:

  1. What the object looks like to them
  2. What the object feels like to them
  3. What it feels and tastes like in their mouth

Have the students organize their free writing into a paragraph, or essay, and let them share what they thought the object looked, felt, and tasted like to them.

Story Magic

Direct students to the museum's Story Magic webpage. Have students work in pairs to illustrate a story based on one of the five genres in Reading Adventureland.

Suggested reading

Familiarity with some, or all, of the following books is helpful:

  • The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  • The Secrets of Droon by Tony Abbott
  • Avalon Web of Magic by Rachel Roberts
  • The Wand in the Word—Conversations with Writers of Fantasy by Leonard S. Marcus