Spring is a special time in 5th grade humanities - students have just wrapped up a few big writing projects, and we are able to launch into what is easily my favorite unit of the year. Shortly before break, I began reading Clive Barker’s supremely creepy novel, The Thief of Always out loud to the 5th graders. They had a chance to look through my class library of fantasy books and make some selections for themselves, and will receive their assigned book when they return from break.
During this unit, we spend a great deal of time discussing what it is that we learn in fantasy books, and how those lessons connect to our own lives in deep ways, despite frequently being entirely different from our own. Students make connections between themes and struggles that pop up in their own lives, and think about how we can all learn from the mistakes and successes of those we read about.
At the end of the unit, 5th graders will engage in the Fantasy Worldbuilding Project - a product of a frantic effort to engage fearful students early on in the pandemic. This unit involves a 5 day story that I wrote for the unit, along with interactive components, and eventually leads to the students creating their own fantasy worlds that work in tandem with the story I present to them. They have total control over the world and the characters they create, and I’m always blown away by their creativity.