When dragons come alive…

We are reaching the end of the Expedition Friends read aloud book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.  One of the characters in the book is a dragon who cannot fly.  

In the story, the dragon begins his life as a painting, and comes to life when its eyes are painted. I read the description of the dragon to the students, and they drew the dragon with beeswax crayons. I dared them to draw the eyes… “maybe your dragon will come to life!”

I love seeing the different ways that the children interpreted the description, and especially that many included someone riding the dragon.

Well, dragons didn’t come leaping off their papers, but dragons became a fascination and emerged as a major theme in their play.  Some of the older students were reading the Dragon Masters series by Tracey West which feature dragon tamers. They became dragon tamers in their play at the farm and a fallen tree became a dragon they could ride just like Minli, the main character in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.  

Riding a dragon through the forest
Dragon Tamer

To support their interests, I got some really beautiful dragon books from the library.  We decided to teach the song “Puff, the magic dragon.” We learned how to decode messages in draconic script.  We did dragon Qigong and played a game called dragon’s tail.

Draconic script
Dragon’s tail
This required a lot of communication and teamwork

The expedition friends created their own dragon together, and using metaphor and simile they described its characteristics.  To me, it is clear that the children have been inspired by Grace Lin and her mastery of writing in a way that transports the reader into the story. They named the dragon by writing one letter on a slip of paper, and then we worked together to rearrange the letters into a name that everyone liked. These activities gave the students more opportunities to work together collaboratively, and they did a really nice job communicating and compromising with one another. Here is the description of that they created as a group.  

Ocaddas, the dragon, had scales that shimmered like silver, but its skin was as rough as sandpaper. He was as cold as an iceberg. On his tiger shaped head he had two elliptical eyes as red as fire. His nostrils were like two shining emeralds, and his teeth were as yellow as gold and pointy as knives.

On long serpent legs, the dragon had paws like a human’s hand but with nails so long and sharp they looked like swords. The dragon’s flaming red wings were thin and as delicate as a baby’s skin, but its tail was long and spiky like daggers.

Ocaddas the dragon

The children are now working on a puppet show that will feature, a dragon tamer, and a mermaid.  Watching this theme emerge and supporting it has been an absolute joy! I’ll share more about the puppet show in a future post.

It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.  -J.R.R. Tolkien

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