Fairy tales, the timeless stories of monsters and heroes, damsels and princes, talking creatures and unbelievable happenings; that touch of magic that children crave and that stirs the imagination. In fairy tales, anything is possible, any problem can be overcome and ordinary people can do extraordinary things. It is this sense of magic and endless possibilities that speaks to the heart of a child. So with the end of the school year and the long summer break looming ahead, think about using fairy tales to teach positive life lessons without the lectures. Child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim explains a child’s need for magic in his book The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales:
“The fairy tale proceeds in a manner which conforms to the way a child thinks and experiences the world; this is why the fairy tale is so convincing to him. He can gain much better solace from a fairy tale than he can from an effort to comfort him based on adult reasoning and viewpoints. A child trusts what the fairy story tells, because its world view accords with his own.”
Fairy tales remind us that evil does exist but it also shows us that evil can be conquered and good prevail. Eighteenth century German poet, philosopher and playwright Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller remarked that “deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in any truth that is taught in life.” So sit and read a fairy tale with your child and let the tale help to impart the morals and manners you wish to take hold. Children will invariably ask questions and a conversation may ensue giving you the opportunity to impart your own wisdom and make the implied message clearer in their minds.
Check out our blog post The Magic of Fairy Tales to see a list of great fairy tale books to share!
Creating a Fairy Garden
To bring the fairy tales to heart, take it a step further and jump on the fairy bandwagon and create your own fairy realm. The fairy garden movement evolved out of the fairy door phenomenon, those little doors that began springing up in random locations all around the country, igniting everyone's curiosity. What's behind the door? stirred the imagination and lead to complete fairy homes and then whole fairy communities.
Fairy gardens are the embodiment of imagination, creativity and magic. I dare you to look at one of these miniature worlds and not smile. They immediately spark wonder and delight in all those who come upon them and this is especially true of children. The beauty of creating a fairy garden with children is that the possibilities are truly endless. They can be indoors or out, feature real plants or fake, be created with purchased, found or natural materials in a container, flower bed, out in the yard, around a tree stump, anywhere at all. They can even be based on a fairy tale you have read with your child.
The best fairy gardens for children are those that children themselves have a hand in creating and that feature manipulatives they can rearrange and move about as they wish. Think of it as a sort of doll house. Playing in a fairy garden allows a child to exercise their own creativity and engage in pretend, imaginative play that will aid in the development of small motor skills, coordination and focus. Additionally, manipulating small figurines and objects in a fairy garden will boost their oral storytelling skills as they invent stories and scenarios while they play, taking their cue from tales you have already read together.
The following is a list of things to consider before starting your own fairy garden:
Our Fairy Garden
Fairy gardens should be a continuous work-in-progress. Kids need to be able to flex their creative muscles and make their imaginings come to life. Also, fairies enjoy getting new things just as much as people do! Our fairy garden is no exception and first came about on a whim after removing a large bush that was next to our deck. The space left behind was the perfect blank slate for us to transform into a magical place for fairies to gather! We are trying to use more natural materials to create our own dwellings and furniture for the fairies, but when you're at Michaels and your 2 year old catches sight of all of those beautiful fairy figurines and houses...well, how can you say no and just walk on by? Therefore, as stated earlier, our garden is a mix of a little bit of everything: found/re-purposed, homemade, natural and purchased items. My daughter is always an active participant in the process and uses the garden for make believe play.
Consider some of the following titles to bring fairies to life and make it a memorable summer for you and your child:
*Note: this post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Any purchases made via the links provided go to support our literacy efforts!
My collection of fairy encyclopedias and art books started when I was young and has continued to grow as my daughter's own love of fairies has blossomed. You would be surprised what amazing books you can find at a used book sale, so keep your eyes open for a glimpse of gossamer wings when browsing!
Do you have a fairy garden of your own? Share a photo with us in the comments!
Happy reading and creating!
We are mom Sandra and daughters Amanda and Kate, all with backgrounds in literacy and education, who want to share our philosophy of taking the basics of life; books, simple toys that encourage play, imagination and creativity, and using cooking and baking to teach math and real life skills to raise happy, inquisitive children. Join us in exploring the old and the new and sifting through the myriad of research to consider what is best for our children.