When I work with children, I am often amazed at the creativity they can display. This happened recently with one of my charges, Jack, whom was perusing different seed catalogs looking for interesting things to plant in the months to come. We happened upon the beans and saw a couple of interesting types: yin-yang, purple podded pole and winged. Jack wondered if we could plant some of those next month. I told him sure but perhaps we could use the beans to create a story about him, Jack and the beanstalk.
"I hate that. Fairy tales are stupid."
"Why are you so upset Jack?
"Because fairy tails are for babies and I am not a baby!"
"That's not true Jack. You said that you liked mythology from the Greeks and Romans: many fairy tales are not that different from classic mythology."
"I don't care. I don't want to make up a story for babies about giants and castles."
"You don't have to make up a story for babies. You can make up any story you like as long as it includes a boy named Jack and a beanstalk. It is only limited by your imagination. How about we work on it together?” Jack shrugged but said he would try.
He started out the story as we started out the lesson. "As Jack was looking in a seed catalog for ideas of what to plant in the spring he discovered . . ."
When I came in I elaborated, "when we received the beans in the mail, we discovered that the seeds we received were not the seeds we picked. They looked magical as they were striped with seven different colors and glowed in the dark. Jack was disappointed that the wrong beans were sent to us but interested in the new beans and how they would grow."
Jack continued, "So Jack decided to plant them in the garden. Now it usually takes beans a few days to emerge from the soil but when Mr. Keller and Jack went by the garden the next day, there was an eight-foot high beanstalk with big fat bean pods on the plant. . . .
We continued for about 5 minutes. The plant never stopped bearing fruit, it had beautiful flowers that changed color, the beans smelled like your favorite dessert, etc. With just a simple prompting, Jack was making up a wonderful story. He didn't need my help to keep it going.
"That is great Jack, but we have to stop now and get you back to class."
"OK Mr. Keller. That was a lot of fun. Thanks."
"No problem Jack, I think we should plant some beans soon for the summer."
"That would be great. Especially if they glow in the dark."