Midsummer, marked on calendars as the Summer Solstice or the first day of summer, is usually June 21st.
The night before (Midsummer Night’s Eve) was considered magical and with Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream it has been equated with fairies. I thought it would be fun to combine the two and look at fairies as a theme.
Whether June, July or January, it doesn’t have to be Midsummer to enjoy this theme day. If your child is fascinated about all things fairy or perhaps if there is a local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream playing, this theme day will explore the mystical world of fairies.
Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.
Mendelssohn’s music for the stage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an obvious choice. The most famous of these pieces is of course “The Wedding March” but the “Overture” is lovely, too. Find some Mendelssohn on your favourite music provider for some classical dancing with your kids.
Another classical choice comes from The Nutcracker. Play “Dance of the Prince and the Sugar-Plum Fairy” (The Nutcracker, Op. 71a, Act II: scene 14: Pas de deux: Dance of the Prince and the Sugar-Plum Fairy).
NOTE: Ask your children questions as you listen to classical music: what instruments do you hear? What feelings do you think the music is expressing? What story/event do you think is happening during the music?
You can find many free colouring pages of fairies online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “Fairy Coloring pages” or print out my Fairy Colouring Page. Glue the finished picture(s) in your scrapbook.
JOURNALING QUESTION PROMPT:
Write out one or more of the following questions in the family notebook or on a piece of paper to glue in your family scrapbook: If you could be a fairy or other magical creature where would you live and what would your magical power be? If you could make a magical potion what would it do? What would your fairy name be? Who is your favourite fairy character/ character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
Choose the level of your child:
Toddler – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and have your child draw a picture of the answer
Preschooler/Kindergartener – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and write the answer down for him/her leaving one word for him/her to write out himself/herself with your help. You could also encourage him/her to draw a picture as well.
Early Grade School – have your child either write out the answer himself/herself (encourage phonetic spelling) without your help, or offer to help with spelling each word out loud one word at a time.
Grade School – have your child write a sentence or two on his/her own and then read over and discuss the response. (You decide whether to correct the spelling or not)
Older Child – have your child write a longer response (paragraph).
As A Challenge – instead of a question ask your older child to write a story about a fairy or about a character from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Print out a Midsummer Fairies Word Search:
Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books about fairies or with fairies in them.
Go to the library with your child to find some books about fairies.
Go to the library on your own to find books about fairies from both fiction and nonfiction to have already on hand for your theme day. Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (Search for “fairies” under “Children’s Books”). Reserve them if you can to save time.
Read some of these books about fairies and other magical creatures if you can find them:
· The Book of Fairies, selected and illustrated by Michael Hague, Harper Collins Publishers, 2000—This collection has seven fairy stories including Thumbelina (Hans Christian Andersen).
· The Book of Little Folk: Faery Stories and Poems from Around the World, collected, retold, and illustrated by Lauren Mills, Dial Books, 1997—This is a beautiful collection of various poems and stories varying from a Native North American Tale call Leelinau to the English Tom Thumb.
· Child of Faerie Child of Earth, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jane Dyer, Little, Brown and Company, 1997—A fairy boy befriend a human girl in this lyrical tale of friends who explore each other worlds but don’t want to leave their own.
· The Fairies’ Ring: A Book of Fairy Stories and Poems, collected and adapted by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Stephen Mackey, Dutton children’s Books, 1999—This beautifully illustrated book has a collection of poems from various writers (Shakespeare, W.B. Yeats, Sir Walter Scott, etc.), and fairy stories from around the globe (Scotland, England, Greece, New Zealand).
· Fairy Wings, story by Lauren Mills and paintings by Lauren Mills and Dennis Nolan, Little, Brown and Company, 1995—This beautiful illustrated book is a longer story about a fairy named Fia who is teased because doesn’t have any wings but in the end she saves all the fairies when they are captured by a troll.
· Imagine You’re A Fairy, by Magic meg and Lucy Loveheart (aka Meg Clibbon and Lucy Clibbon), Annick Press, 2002—This fun little book explores such fun things as fairy outfits and clothes, wand positions, fairy godmothers and has some fairy things to do at the end of the book including a recipe for Fairy Bars.
· Little Folk: Stories from Around the World, by Paul Robert Walker and illustrated by James Bernardin, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1997—This collection has eight stories of little folk (fairy, dwarf, elf, leprechaun etc.) from various places (Germany, Japan, Denmark, North America, South Africa, Wales, Hawaiian islands, Ireland).
· Magical Creatures, by Man-eating Meg and Loch Ness Lucy (aka Meg Clibbon and Lucy Clibbon), Annick Press Ltd., 2006—Fun illustrations adorn this book that looks at creatures such as dragons, unicorns, ogres, the sphinx, and the phoenix among others.
· The Secret Life of Fairies, written by Penelope Larkspur and illustrated by Leslie Elizabeth Watts, Kids Can press, 1999—This book is like a guide to the fairy world as it looks at different fairy powers, fairy homes, fairy fashions, relations and rules.
· The Story of the Tooth Fairy, by Tom Paxton and illustrated by Robert Sauber, Morrow Junior Books, 1996—This book explains the tradition of leaving your tooth under the pillow for the tooth fairy by telling the story of the first time that happened and who became the tooth fairy.
If you want to focus more on Midsummer Night’s Dream try these titles:
· A Midsummer Night’s Dream, retold by Bruce Coville and pictures by Dennis Nolan, Dial Books, 1996—This is a great introduction to Shakespeare’s tale as it is retold in prose and has beautiful illustrations that bring the story to life.
· Midsummer Knight, by Gregory Rogers, A Neal Porter Book, 2006—While this book doesn’t have any words the story of a caped bear wandering the woods who stumbles upon a fairy world and becomes a hero along with a little fairy Prince by saving the King and Queen from an evil fairy is very evident by the great illustrations.
· Mr. William Shakespeare’s Plays, presented by Marcia Williams, Walker Books Ltd., 1998 – This book illustrates seven of Shakespeare’s plays (including A Midsummer Night’s Dream) in a unique comic and text within a stage format. The whimsical illustrations are great fun.
Older kids may be interested in the story of Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths and their supposed photographs of themselves with fairies when they were girls (1917); if so, check out this book:
· Fooled You! Fakes and Hoaxes Through the Years, by Elaine Pascoe and pictures by Laurie Keller, Henry Holt, 2005.
Materials: Print out of Fairy Wand Stars worksheet, drinking straws, tape, glue stick, glitter and white glue (optional).
Step 1: Have you child colour and decorate the stars.
Step 2: Help your child cut the stars out. (Optional: if your child wants to add glitter or glitter glue do so now and let it dry before the next steps).
Step 3: Tape the straw (bendy end) to the back side of one star.
Step 4: Apply glue to the back side of another star and sandwich the end of the straw between the two straws.
COFFEE FILTER FAIRIES:
Materials: Paper coffee filters, washable markers, spray bottle of water (or just use the tap in a slow trickle), waxed paper, popsicle stick (thick craft ones work well or recycle), pipe cleaners, ribbon (optional).
Step 1: Have your child colour and decorate a coffee filter with washable markers.
Step 2: Spray the decorated coffee filter with a water bottle (or adult can carefully put it under a tap running in a slow trickle) to spread out the colours.
Step 3: Set the coloured coffee filters on waxed paper to dry (allow at least 30 minutes).
Step 4: Have your child draw a face for his/her fairy on one end of a popsicle stick.
Step 5: When the coffee filter is dry, fold it into a fan (over and under) and pinch in the middle to spread two sides out like wings.
Step 6: Have your child pick the colour of pipe cleaner he/she would like to use for the fairy’s arms.
Step 7: Twist a pipe cleaner around the popsicle stick to hole the wings in place and to make arms.
Step 8 (Optional): Glue and wrap ribbon around the pop stick for a fairy dress.
NOTE: These can be stuck in household plants as decoration.
PIXIE DUST PICTURE:
Materials: Coloured paper, glitter glue OR craft glitter and white glue, newspaper to protect the table, a face cloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Have your child pick out the colour of paper he/she would like to use (generally off white or white works best because more colours show up).
Step 2: Show your child how to squeeze the glitter glue to make designs on the paper OR show your child how to make designs by squeezing the white glue on the paper.
Step 3: If you are using white glue and dry glitter show your chid how to gently pour or shake the glitter over the white glue.
Step 4: If you are using white glue and dry glitter the next step is to tip the paper over to let the excess glitter fall away (to save the glitter do this over a piece of paper with a fold in the middle then once the dry glitter has landed on the paper gently fold slightly along the fold and tilt the paper to let the glitter slide down the fold back into the glitter container or jar).
Step 5: Let the craft dry and then display or glue into your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.
Materials: Coloured paper, stickers with fairies and flowers on them, markers and crayons.
· Step 1: Give your child the stickers and paper and have him/her either make a scene or a collage with them.
· Step 2 (Optional): See if your child wants to embellish the picture with markers or crayons by drawing a setting for the fairies.
DRAWING FAIRIES: If your child likes to draw see if your library has a copy of this book: Drawing Faeries: A Believer’s Guide, by Christopher Hart, Watson-Guptill Publications, 2004.
Fairies love natural foods so enjoy some fresh berries, herbal (no caffeine) tea, and honey for a snack.
I am told that this was a staple at Australian Birthday Parties when my husband was young.
Ingredients: White sliced bread, multi-coloured candy sprinkles (called hundreds and thousands in Australia).
Step 1: Pour candy sprinkles on slices of white bread.
Tea Sandwiches in Cut-out shapes:
Ingredients: sliced bread, toppings of your choice (we had cream cheese, and strawberry jam, cream cheese and mashed avocado, and cheese slices with margarine), small cookie cutters (like flowers or stars).
Step 1: Press the cookie cutters into bread slices to cut them into shapes (save trimmings to put in blender to make homemade breadcrumbs).
Step 2: Put various toppings on each little sandwich.
Fairy Cakes/Cup Cakes:
Go online or look in your favourite cookbook to find a recipe for “Fairy Cakes” the name for plain white “Cup Cakes” in Britain. Make them special for this theme day by adding 3 tablespoons of candy sprinkles in the batter before you bake them. Decorate with your favourite icing tinted pink or yellow, and top with pastel jelly beans arranged like flowers or top with edible flowers sometimes found at the grocery store for a natural look that our little fairy friends would appreciate.
http://www.fairychildren.com/ - This site has an assortment of fairy activities for varies ages.
http://www.flowerfairies.com/US_version/home.html— This is the Flower Fairies Official website based on the books and illustrations of Cicely Mary Barker and it is a beautiful site with lots of gorgeous fairy illustrations to look at, as well as some party planning ideas for a fairy inspired party (food, placemat templates, how to make fairy wings) and an online game to dress up two fairies and print them out
Older kids may be interested in this thorough history of fairies offered by Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy
This site on Irish fairies is interesting, but again I’d suggest it for older children as it has only written descriptions with one picture each- http://www.irelandseye.com/animation/intro.html
The story of Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths and their supposed photographs of themselves with fairies when they were girls (1917 and 1920) can be found at http://www.cottingley.net/fairies.shtml OR http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/Hoaxipedia/Cottingley_Fairies/ which has all five photographs neatly displayed on one page.
If your child happens to have some costume fairy wings from Halloweens past today would be a good day to fish them out OR you could try to make some out of cardboard OR go online to find how to make wire and nylon fairy wings.
Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows with a fairy theme or fairy characters.
Try these cartoon titles with fairy characters in them:
· Sleeping Beauty
· Peter Pan
Older kids may enjoy these titles with fairy characters in them:
· The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
· Peter Pan
· Fairy Tale: A True Story— An interesting look at Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths and their supposed photographs of themselves with fairies when they were girls in the 1920’s.
Older kids may also be interested in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999 movie with Michelle Pfeiffer as the fairy queen Titania).
My son’s drawing of the character Bottom (drawn when he was 6 years old).
Fairy Sticker Collages
Pixie Dust picture using glitter glue
Pixie Dust picture using white glue and dry glitter
Coffee Filter Fairies
Photo: C Wright
Do you believe in fairies?