First graders are at a prime age to learn about the difference between fantasy and reality. Many enjoy spending time in imaginary worlds found on television and in books, and first-grade teachers can meld this enjoyment with learning by simple activities that differentiate between the real world and the worlds in stories.
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The simplest way to illustrate the difference between reality and fantasy is by reading. Find copies of current children's works like the Harry Potter series. In addition, you can read stories about real children doing extraordinary things. Ask the first graders which stories/characters are real and which are not before explaining the difference between the two types of stories. Explain about facts, non-fiction and fiction, and what they are. Define both fantasy and reality for the students.
First graders love to tell stories and many like to be the centre of attention. Plays allow them to do both. Either write or find several simple plays. Divide your students into small groups and have them perform the plays for the rest of the class. Discuss how the story is fantasy, while they live in reality.
Nothing is more fantasy-oriented than fairy tales. Traditional fairy tales are filled with magic and made-up creatures. Read a few fairy tales such as Cinderella or Rumpelstiltskin, discussing the elements of the story (beginning, middle, end, etc.) and what makes it a fairy tale (magic, mythical creatures, fictional places/kingdoms, etc.). Have the students write and illustrate a simple fairy tale of their own. Next have the students write and illustrate a story about what they did the day before. When both stories are finished, discuss how the story elements all differ.
First graders love to watch different television shows and often believe that the characters are real and not actors. A unit on television will help the students understand that the characters are just people helping to tell a story. Have the students choose their favourite live-action television character and look that actor up on the Internet. Students should do a short report on the actor's name, birthday, and any other shows or movies the actor has appeared in. This is also a good way to introduce giving oral reports or doing written reports.
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