‘Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic’ J.K. Rowling.
When you open a book of fantasy and adventure the words transport you to another world as if by magic. In these magical kingdoms anything is possible, there are no limits to your abilities and here your magical gifts can really exist and flourish. No story ever written has captured this ‘inexhaustible source of magic’ more than J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Her stories captured the imagination of a generation, and will continue to do so in generations to come. In the book Great Lives we discover that behind the story of Harry Potter there is another story, the story of J.K.Rowling, which despite her challenges and set backs, is perhaps just as magical.
ACTIVITY: Create five questions you would like to ask J.K. Rowling in an interview. Read the book Great Lives and see if you can find any of the answers to your questions. Work with a partner and create a role-play between J.K. Rowling and an interviewer. You can invent the answers to the questions you don’t know!
J.K. Rowling’s used the magic of words to create a story, that in turn magically transformed her life. Her story was not plain sailing with many obstacles along the way. It is children who understand magic best, and for J.K Rowling to publish her book, she had to convince agents and publishers who lacked the same imagination. Through grit and determination, magic
prevailed, and Harry Potter casted a spell across the world. How can we bring the magic of words into our classrooms? Of course we can teach English using great fantasy and adventure stories. They can inspire our pupils to be creative and imaginative. We can also inspire ou pupils by teaching them about Great Lives like J.K. Rowling, that way they can see that magic really is possible and they have the potential for magic too. We can also encourage our pupils to be creative, use their imagination and invent their own stories. Through their own storytelling they can learn English effortlessly with fun activities that in turn create a magical classroom!
Let’s take a look at a story and see how we can achieve just that…
Magic in the classroom
A white snowy barn owl swoops through the window and elegantly lands on the teacher’s desk, it’s large brown eyes gently scan the classroom, which sits in stunned silence. The teacher slowly holds out her hand and the barn owl releases from its pointed beak a small piece of rolled up parchment. A piece of threaded string and wax seal hold the parchment together in a roll.
‘What is it?’, calls out Rob an intrigued but confused pupil with fiery red hair. Hilary, an eager pupil stands up and proudly declares, ‘that is a parchment! They were used to send messages in ancient times!’, ‘we should open it!’ , says Henry, he has scruffy hair and round glasses. ‘It could be something important!’
The teacher carefully opens the seal and unrolls the parchment, she begins to read… ‘The Magic of Words Activity’… the pupils listen with bated breath to the instructions.
The teacher finishes reading the instructions… ‘How do we get our magic words?’ Asks Hilary. Suddenly the pupils see something in the sky through the classroom window. Fifteen owls of different sizes, shapes and colours fly into the classroom, each one perching in front of the every pupil on their desks. The owls place tiny pieces of parchment on the pupil’s desks and the fly away out of the window and into the distance.
Henry observes his parchment which is blank, then slowly a word appears, ‘What does yours say?’ Asks Rob, ‘it’s a secret’, replies Henry, ‘let’s see if you can guess my word when I tell you my story!’. ‘Let’s begin!’ says Hilary.
The magic of words activity is an excellent exercise for lower intermediate to advanced students of English. It can help your students be creative as well as practising speaking, writing and listening skills. You can ask your pupils to write their stories before reading them to the class, or for an extra challenge they can write some notes then tell their story. Your pupils will be motivated to listen to the stories carefully so this exercise is excellent for practising listening skills. Try it in your English class, they will love this form of storytelling! Simply cut out the words from the worksheet. Give each pupil a word and let them invent a story, no longer than one minute long, including the magic word. When they are ready each pupil can tell their story, the other pupils listen to the story and try and guess the word.