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Creative Writing: Putting a New Spin on Old Fables

Our 6th and 7th grade classes end the year with this creative writing project.  They are asked to rewrite a familiar fable.  I intentionally choose a story that is very familiar and one which has repetitive lines.  Such stories have included The Three Little Pigs, The Little Red Hen, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  Each one of these stories the students have heard a hundred times in their childhood and could probably recite from memory.  This allows them to comfortably rewrite the story in their own “Latin” words.  I also allow them to put their own creative spin on the story as long as they stay true to the main story line.  Once again, however, I begin the project by setting some important parameters that will end up making the project more enjoyable.

  • I usually break the class up into teams and assign each team a scene in the story.  The three stories I mentioned above can all be broken down in to smaller pieces.  This keeps the project from being too overwhelming, and allows us to easily keep the time to a week or less.
  • The first rule is K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple Sweetie; especially when it comes to grammar.  I insist they use only certain tenses, moods, and voices where verbs are concerned, or declensions and cases for nouns and adjectives.  They can only use the grammar that they have mastered.  This seems like a no-brainer, but your over-achievers will try to do something fancy to impress their friends and teacher. 
  • We brain storm together some ideas that need to be kept common throughout the story.  This includes character names and perhaps even important props that appear throughout the story.  It also includes those repetitive lines I mentioned earlier.  We all brainstorm together how to say things like “this is just right”  or “who will help me?” or “not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.”

Once the story has been written and edited, the class puts together a final draft complete with illustrations.  In some years, time permitting, we have then put on a play for the younger classes.  Because the story line is so familiar, the students are able to follow the story even if they do not know all of the words.  In fact, they have a really good time listening for words they do know.  The familiar repetitive lines also help the audience follow along and learn some fun new Latin.  The project has been enjoyed so much by the performers and audiences that it has become a year-end tradition at Grace Academy.

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