Steps for this task:
First I tapped out their knowledge about leprechauns, then read them a few picture books over a few days.
Second I asked the kids to tell me everything they knew about leprechauns. On a chart I recorded vocabulary that they generated. Even though most American kids understand that leprechauns are tiny fairies from Ireland who keep a pot of gold hidden, it's important to have a discussion. For example, most of my students did not know that leprechauns earned their gold coins from working as cobblers for the fairies. Nor did they know that leprechauns could never lie and this was why they've come up with inventive ways to trick people. A word bank of relevant vocabulary is not only extremely valuable for non native English speakers, it also provides an anchor for less confident writers.
Third I displayed my chart which lists 5 essential components of a story:
1. An entertaining beginning
2. Describe the setting
3. Build suspense
4. Frame by frame of the problem
5. Solving the problem
After all these months of teaching the steps on this chart the kids are quite familiar with them.
Fourth I explained the task. Write a story that features a leprechaun. You'll do a first draft today. Tomorrow you will revise the story using the steps we've learned, and then you will write a final draft of the story.
My Two Cents on Creative Writing
The buzz all around is Common Core Standards and teachers are swiveling toward non fiction, more opinion based writing. I agree that when kids graduate out of school they should be equipped to formulate arguments and support their positions on a variety of topics. My students write in their journals a few times a week, most of which is expository. Here, the emphasis is on content rather than delivery. While it is important to encourage kids to express their opinions in coherent writing, we should not hastily throw out the baby with the bathwater. I feel strongly that to teach effective writing strategies, creative writing offers the ideal forum. Coming up with a plot and figuring out how all the events will flow requires intense concentration. Students go through a complete thought process for an appreciable length of time. This is also an opportunity to experiment with new vocabulary and channel thoughts into grammatical sentences. In exercising their imagination and expanding their thinking kids are strengthening skills for application later in their lives. Finally, kids learn to write strong sentences and use paragraphs in an enjoyable fashion. These skills will transfer to those expository pieces expected in future years.
My students were thoroughly excited about the writing task right from the beginning. I'm very proud to share a few stories from this assignment which appear below. Notice the experimentation in their styles, vocabulary, and description. It is really important for the teacher to notice and praise the strengths, and to overlook a lot of the mistakes. It's normal for beginning writers to have inaccuracies. These stories are from 9 year olds and I think they are incredible.
Beyond the streets and over the hills in a little valley in Ireland was a little cottage. In this cottage there lived a girl named Annie. She lived with her brother, James and her aunt.
They owed a rather tiny piece of land but apple trees and golden and green apple trees and golden and green grass stretch forever around them. Everyday Annie would go picking apples and would root the potatoes. She did this because you would have to if you don’t have a store for miles away.
Her favorite thing though was to read about or look for leprechauns. She would look by every brook and hollow log. She would look in holes big and small and stumps short and tall.
One day though she forgot how her aunt said to stay close. She got carried away and went farther than her limit. She thought to her self, “I’ve never been here before.”
Well she wasn’t alone. She saw a trail of smoke drifting in the air. As she got close she could see a tiny little chimney popping out of the hill with a weathered tiny door. It was a built into the hill. She got closer.
She kneeled down and to her surprise it said clearly printed, “Leprechauns present.” She rang the little bell. Nobody answered. So she just opened it. She had to crawl because of the tiny size. It was so dark though but there was a glimpse of light at the end.
Then a thing of dust got in her eye. She took her hand to feel things when it brushed on some hair. Then she moved her hand down. Just then the dust came put. She opened her eyes. “Agghh! Agghh!” They both screamed.
“Are you a leprechaun?” she asked. He rang his bell on the tip of his hap, “Jolly good. Follow me over here.” Annie did as she was told. He led her to the light.
Right there was an entire town full of leprechauns. There was a rainbow, and little shops a field of clovers and of course much more. There were flowers with nuggets of the finest gold and grass as green as scattered emeralds. Then something caught her eye. In front of them was a beautiful tree dangled with crisp, shiny, ruby red apples. They had golden pits. “I suppose I must give you my gold,” said the leprechaun.
“No!” Annie interrupted. “How about one of those apples?” The leprechaun grinned and gladly gave her an apple. “Come back, but don’t tell anyone were here.”
She crawled through the cave and exited they tiny wooden door. When she got back she showed her aunt the apple. “Where did you get that?” her aunt asked.
Annie was not prepared for this. She said, “From a new tree I found.” So that answered her aunt’s question. Now she could just go there whenever she wanted hopefully her aunt would stay that way. So she did. Everyday she would go see them and bring back one apple. They stayed friends forever and favored each other.
The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day
Tap, tap, tap. I was lying in bed listening. There it went again. It was the night before St. Patrick’s Day. It must be leprechauns, I thought. Slowly and silently I slipped out of bed. Slowly and silently I tip toed down the stairs.
Half way down my mouth dropped open. My body froze. I almost screamed. No it couldn’t be, but it was. There in the middle of my living room were dozens and dozens of leprechauns. Tap, tap, tap. Now I could hear very clearly.
Silently I tiptoed down the rest of the stairs. Slowly I approached on of the leprechauns. “Hello, “ I whispered. “My name is Sophie. I won’t hurt you. Just tell me what you’re doing.”
“We are digging up our pots of gold to take to the end of the rainbow,” he answered without looking up. “My name is Bob.” Then he and the other leprechauns left. I tiptoed after them.
Very soon we reached the end of a spectacular rainbow. “We must go to the other side,” Bob said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because we must never bury treasure unless we are in Ireland,” he answered. He climbed onto the rainbow an offered his hand to me. Though I took it, it didn’t do much because he was so much smaller than me. I climbed on after him and the other leprechauns climbed on after me.
Soon we reached the very top of the rainbow. Under our feet was the most amazing mat of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. Above our heads the stars shimmered and danced. The moon smiled down on us, lighting up the world. Down below the world was asleep. I dozed with it.
Just then Bob let out a horrifying shriek. I woke up. Bob’s full to the top pot of gold was now falling quickly to the Earth. “Can you fly?” I asked.
“No!” he answered in a panic. “Only the king and queen can fly.”
Suddenly I had an idea. When I had gotten out of bed I had wrapped my blanket around me. The leprechauns worked some magic and the blanket could now be used as a parachute. I grabbed Bob, put him in my pocket and we began our long fall to earth.
When we got there we were surprised to see we were at the end of the rainbow. There propped up neatly on a rock was Bob’s pot of gold. Not one coin had been lost. I helped Bob bury the pot.
Then he worked a spell. I was swept away in a blur of green. Then, plop, I landed warm and safe in my very own bed. When I leaned over to check the time it was 6:30, the time I had left. There was a beautiful charm bracelet with a leprechaun who looked like Bob and lots of clover leaves. When I put it on, it was like I had a touch of magic in me.
That morning I tried to tell my parents and sister but they just said I had a big imagination. So my adventure on the rainbow still remains my secret.
When I was walking on a trail in March, I found a sign. It was in the ground. It said: Beware of some Lepre. The rest of the sign was covered in dirt. I picked it up. The last part was broken off. Then I saw something green move fast. It looked like a tiny man.
There were two of them. Their footprints were green. They were leprechauns! Another sign appeared. On it in tiny letters were: Solve the riddle. I picked up the sign. On the last word chaun was added. I solved the riddle!
I put the sign in my knapsack and followed the leprechauns. Their names were, and still are, Lucky and Cheeky. They led me to a gate. On a sign it said, “Private Property. DO NOT ENTER.” I found a key. It opened the gate.
There was a 3-headed dragon and a phoenix firebird. They chased us to a cave filled with werewolves. Lucky and Cheeky gave them some meat. We captured one and named him Lightening.
We dashed up to a glacier. It came to be a sinkhole. We were caught in a bullet train. We traveled until we came to a station. There was a party.
The leprechauns saw their arch-enemy. He was a black elf named Darkness. He saw them and started running. We followed him, grabbing some silver. He liked silver. We threw it into the werewolf cave. That was the end of him.
The leprechauns turned into constellations.
My New Leprechaun Family
A beige sun set over the mountains of Flockenville, a very small village in Ireland. Only twenty families lived in Flockenville. I was sent into the forest to get firewood. By the way, I am Carter.
So I aimed my ax and chop, chop, chop! Out came a leprechaun. He said, “Ooo, I’ll take you to my pot of gold.” And across the river were hundreds, perhaps thousands of pots full of gold. But I had to ford the river. SPLASH!
I was in the water heading towards a waterfall! Splash! I fell in and all that was left was me and my jack-knife. My ax was too heavy to float down.
It took me hours to cut down a tree with a jack knife. I started a fire and when it got going the light attracted an old couple. They managed to make a house and adopt me.
It was a nice house. My favorite part was the warm fireplace. Also the warm beds. I got an allowance for chopping down trees.
Then one day, years later, I was fit and ready for my adventure home. I ran into more leprechauns. They turned me into a leprechaun! I tried to push the guy off a cliff and into my fire, but I was too small.
So, they adopted me. I kept trying to turn myself back into a human, but I dealt with it and had family time with my new leprechaun family.
St. Patrick’s Day Story
By Lea Pynn
The sun was coming up as the moon went down. It shot through Emily’s curtains. She lifted the sheet over her head. She couldn’t take it. She got up and went downstairs. Her mom was making pancakes for breakfast. She only made pancakes on special occasions. Today was a special occasion. Today was Saint Patrick’s Day!
Emily’s family lived in a beautiful place called Ireland. Her mom’s name was Jan and her dad’s name was Jefferson. Emily always wanted to see a leprechaun. When she could see a leprechaun she would ask, “Do you have any gold?”
One day her mom sent her out to get some firewood. She tripped over a log, dropped her firewood, and tumbled down a dark hole. When her eyes opened she was in a world with giant plants.
Emily looked down. She wasn’t wearing her white dress anymore. She had a green shirt, green pants, a black hat, black shoes, and her hair was loose instead of in braids. When she looked back, the hole was covered with weeds, leaves, grass, and dead flowers.
The people of the village were running around like crazy. When all the people were gone Emily went to a little Irishman sitting on a tree stump. “Why is everything so big and why am I so little?” she asked.
He said, “A pleasant hello would be grand.”
“Sorry,” said Emily.
“Better. My name is Ton, and you’re a leprechaun.”
“WHAT?” she yelled.
“Yes. We do not like people going near our village. We put the log there to make you tumble down our hole. Whenever someone goes into Leprechaun Village they turn into leprechauns,” said Ton.
“That is actually kind of spectacular, “ Emily said.
“Would you like to see what it is like to be a leprechaun?” Ton asked.
“Sure I would!”
The first place they went to was a clear pond full of ducks. They climbed up plants, rested on flower petals, and rode ducks. The next hour they went to a meadow. Ton and Emily ran off to the woods. They tried to climb trees, but it was hard. “My mom said the latest I can be gone is sunset, “ Emily said.
“I’ll let you go off. Just remember never come near this hole again.”
Emily was shot out of Leprechaun Village. She had braids, her white dress, and her Converse shoes on. She grabbed her firewood and ran home. Her mom was very happy to see her and very worried. Her mom said her dinner was on the table. When Emily fell asleep Ton was in her house. He crept into her room. This is what he whispered in her ear, “Didn’t we have a grand time?”
A St. Patrick’s Day Story
My story starts in Ireland in the middle of the mountains in a little house. In that house there lived a little man who was 12 inches tall and always wore the color green. This little man was what we call a leprechaun.
Now this leprechaun was hiding his pot of gold when a big net snatched him and his pot of gold. The leprechaun said, “Please let me go! I haven’t hidden my pot of gold yet! Come and snatch me up tomorrow when I have hidden my pot of gold!”
The man whose name was Tom said “Or. But you have to be in this exact spot OR.”
“OR,” said the leprechaun.
The leprechaun quickly hid his pot of gold. Then he walked to his house and went to bed. There was only one problem. Tom was hiding behind a tree. When the leprechaun was gone he went home, got his shovel, and came back and dug up the pot of gold. Then Tom took the pot of gold home.
The next day Tom came back to the exact spot he last caught the leprechaun. He waited all day, then the leprechaun finally came. Tom scooped him up in the big net. “Where is you pot of gold?”
“My pot of gold is inside the cherry tree,” said the leprechaun. Tom looked inside the cherry tree, but of course, nothing was there.
Then Tom said, “Where’s the pot of gold?”
“It’s not there. Someone must have stolen it.” While the leprechaun was looking for his pot of gold frantically, Tom ran home and never ever told anyone what happened that day.
A Leprechaun Named Izzy
Long ago there lived a leprechaun named Izzy. Izzy ran away from home and was all alone in the woods. One day she met a very kind girl named Jenny. They met while Jenny was on vacation. Their vacation was at a cabin in the woods.
Jenny went for a walk in the woods. She started to hear strange sounds. She also saw a bush shaking. She started to walk faster. Later she saw something green. She wondered what it was and then she thought it must be a leprechaun.
Jenny ran home and got her leprechaun trap. When she came back the leprechaun was still there so Jenny trapped the leprechaun and took him back home.
When they got home Jenny put the leprechaun in a cage. Jenny saw he was scared and said, “Don’t be scared. What’s your name?”
The leprechaun said, “My name is Izzy.”
The girl said, “My name is Jenny and we’re going to be the best of friends. If you promise you will not slip away from me and run away, I will let you out of the cage.” Jenny opened the cage and took Izzy out.
Izzy ran out of the cage. Then he said, “I am hungry.”
Jenny said, “Well, what do you want?”
“Do you have any potatoes? Leprechauns love potatoes.”
They both then said goodbye.
“I had the best day ever!” Jessica Hall exclaimed.
“Why?” asked her mother, Mrs. Hall.
“The sixth grade is going to Ireland next month!” That month passed quickly. Before Jessica knew it, she was on the plane.
When she found her seat she felt a pinch and almost screamed. She was so shocked to see what she saw. A strange quiet voice, almost a whisper, said, “Hello girly, my name is Lucky, the Leprechaun.”
Jessica thought, That was supposed to make me feel better but it didn’t. After all it’s not every day that a girl sees a leprechaun. “Why aren’t you in Ireland?” she asked forgetting where the plane was heading.
“You forgetful little girly,” Lucky replied.
Quickly Jessica picked up Lucky and put him in her carry on. For the rest of the plane ride she slept. When she woke up the plane was landing. She grabbed her carry on and Lucky was still there. She sighed with relief. She turned for a split second and he was gone. She looked around the plane but it was too late.
She realized that this was Lucky’s home and she trusted him to walk around. She left with her class to go to the hotel.When she got there, sitting on her bed, was Lucky and twenty other leprechauns. Jessica’s jaw dropped. Lucky saw this so he quickly said, “You shoved me into your suitcase which means you invited me and my whole family to stay with you.”
“Well then,” replied Jessica.
All of a sudden they started thrashing about. They tore up the pillows and white, fluffy feathers flew around the room. The wool comforter was torn and spread out all over the room. Jessica yelled, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” The leprechauns all got a sad look on their faces. “Well anyway I found you, Lucky. Now where is your pot of gold?” Jessica asked after a long silent moment.
“Oh, don’t you know that was the olden times that we did that? This is modern times,” replied Lucky.
Jessica now was in a bad mood. She wanted to get rid of the leprechauns. It was the last day of the trip. The leprechauns were still there. She felt so powerless around them. Whenever she said something they always put on those sad faces.
Jessica packed her bags. While she was packing she realized why she could never manage to tell them to leave. She had grown to love them.
When they weren’t looking, she slipped out the door. On the ride back she felt sad and lonely. She wished Lucky were sitting next to her. When she got home she lugged her bag into her room and lay down.
Years past and everyday she thought about him. She had a sixth grade daughter named Jessie. One day Jessie came home and said, “The sixth grade is going to Ireland.” On the plane she felt a pinch.
“Hello, my name is Lucky Jr.,” said a small voice. Jessie picked him up and put him in her carry on.
Chubby, the Leprechaun
Chubby was a big leprechaun. His name was perfect for him because he was chubby. He lived in LGSG city. Chubby was poor. He kept his only $2,000,000 in the bank. ($2,000,000 is not that money for a leprechaun.)
One day an evil wizard named Zurvak, who wore a vicious looking blood-red cloak, came flying to LGST city on his ghost chariot pulled by two dead ghostly dragons. His chariot shot out millions of ghosts who broke apart the city prison. All the evil wizards of the world escaped.
That night Chubby couldn’t sleep. He was worried about the evil wizards. Then he saw light. He looked out the window. He fell over. The evil wizards were shooting spells at the bank!
KABLOOM! It fell over in pieces. Then a huge crate, probably 500 miles high, dropped down on a rope. It opened. The evil wizards shot a spell and all the gold that had been in the bank flew up and fell into the crate. It was Zurvak’s ghost chariot! It flew away with all the gold, followed by the evil wizards.
Chubby rushed downstairs. He saw police cars and jumped into one. “Thanks,” he yelled, throwing a pound of gold at a policeman. Soon he came to a desert and his car stopped. “The worst time to run out of gas!” he said.
About a mile away he saw a huge cactus. After an hour he came to it. He saw a little rectangular shaped door. He kicked it and it fell over! He walked inside and overheard the wizards having a meeting.
“Whoever is first to destroy this planet gets to be in charge,” said Zurvak. Zurvak and the others ran in different directions. Zurvak ran into a catapult. Just as he was about to crush it, Chubby catapulted him to space.
The other wizards held a meeting behind the huge cactus. “Now that Zurvak is gone I get to be ruler!” shouted a wizard named Donjatv. Up in space Zurvak threw a spear at Earth. It hit the huge cactus. The cactus fell over crushing the other wizards. Zurvak flew away looking back, laughing at Earth. But before he could turn to look ahead, a meteorite hit him. He fell down, down, down, never to be seen again.
Everybody got their gold back. Everyone thanked Chubby.
The Leprechaun’s Rainbow
In a place called Ireland lived a girl named Emma. Emma had blond hair and blue eyes. One morning Emma woke up. She went outside and lay down and looked at the sky. She saw a beautiful rainbow.
When she got up she saw a bush shaking and a strange shadow. “What could it be?” said Emma. It was a leprechaun named Ella.
Ella said, “Please don’t hurt me.
I don’t know who you are,” said Emma.
“You don’t know who I am?” said Ella.”
“No, I don’t,” said Emma.
“Well, I am a leprechaun. I came from a town called The World of Leprechauns,” said Ella.
“That is a beautiful name,” said Emma.
“Why are you here?” asked Emma.
“I came to collect berries because in our town there aren’t any berries and if we don’t eat, rainbows won’t appear,” said Ella.
“You control rainbows?” asked Emma.
“Yes, you didn’t know?”
“No I didn’t.”
“We leprechauns eat different colored berries so we can make the rainbows. I am dressed in blue because I made the color blue in rainbows. Four other leprechauns are with me because they make the other colors of the rainbow. Do you want to meet them? They’re behind the bush.”
“All right,” said Emma. The four leprechauns came out from the bush. The one dressed in orange was Patrick, the one in red was Sally, the one in green was Alex, and the one in yellow was May.
“We all eat berries. Do you eat berries?” asked Ella.
“Of course I do. They are my favorite snack,” said Emma.
Ella said, “May we have some berries?”
“Of course. Take as many as you need. You may come whenever you want.”
“Thank you very much. You are a good friend.”
The Young Leprechaun
A long time ago there was a young boy named Mike. He had curly, blonde hair and his eyes were as blue as the sea. His skin was peach with a hint of brown. Mike’s family was poor. He lived with is mom and sister. His father died before he was born. Mike and his family lived in a little cottage in the middle of the woods. The cottage had only one room. He shared a room with his sister. His mom slept alone.
One day when Mike went out to plant some tomato seeds he saw a shadow. A bush shook. Then he saw something climbing up a tree. Mike froze in his tracks. He said to himself, “Could it be?”
When he went behind the bush he almost fainted. He saw a leprechaun. He couldn’t say a word. Mike asked in a shaky voice, “What is your name?”
The leprechaun answered, “Coral.” Mike fainted.
When Mike woke up he thought it was just a dream. He got dressed and went outside. Right at that moment he saw Coral. Coral said, “Hello. I want to tell you about myself.”
I was born by the ocean side. I didn’t have any parents with me. I almost got sucked up by the ocean. Someone had come to save me. I remember it as being a wizard. Then I was brought here to these bushes. That’s my story.
“Okay,” said Mike.
Now I, the writer, will tell you what Coral looked like. She had blue, curly hair. Her eyes were as brown as dirt. Her skin was peach.
The next day Mike woke up and looked for Coral. She wasn’t there but there was a message. It said: I’ve been stolen. Please come and save me. I lie hidden by the sea.
After Mike read this letter he rushed over to the sea. He looked all over for Coral. Then, in the shadows of the ocean he saw green. He said to himself, “That must be Coral.” He picked her up.
Next Coral said, “I will turn you into a leprechaun.” Zap! Mike was a leprechaun.
The very next day Mike and Coral got married.