The Dragon Prince

A Chinese Beauty and the Beast Tale
A poor farmer with seven daughters is on his way home from his farm when a dragon seizes him and says he will eat him unless one of his daughters marries him. Seven (who makes money for the family with her excellent embroidery) agrees and they fly away to a gorgeous home, wonderful clothes, a great life…and he reveals he is a prince in disguise. She misses her home, and while there, Three, who is jealous, pushes her in the river and steals her identity. Seven is rescued by an old lady and uses her wonderful sewing skills to make clothes and shoes they can sell in the market. The prince, realizing something is wrong, seeks his real bride and finds her because he sees her embroidery in the market. Happy ending all around—except for Three.

Lawrence Yep, ©1999, Harper Collins, ISBN 978-0064435185

Figures of Speech (Simile)
There are many many similes…well, I counted 9, but there may be more. This might be a good time to teach what a simile is. Perhaps read the story to them first, and then read the story to them a second time, asking them to identify the similes.

  1. The dragon raised a paw with claws as sharp as daggers.
  2. The lakes became silvery sequins.
  3. The Milky Way…like an endless bolt of the whitest silk.
  4. The moon…shone like a giant pearl upon the sea.
  5. I could crush you like a twig.
  6. His scales gleamed like jewels in a golden net.
  7. His eyes shone like twin suns.
  8. Curling his body as easily as a giant.
  9. Moon…like a school of fish darting.

A Craft: Embroidery

 

 

 

You might be able to purchase small embroidery hoops at a local dollar store. Choose a simple pattern, perhaps of a dragon, transfer it to simple white cotton, and have students embroider it in a single colour. There are many times in Chinese stories that silk, embroidery, etc. are a turning point in the story. One of these is The Silk Princess, another is The Dragon’s Robe, and of course, The Dragon Prince.

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I am Raven

I Am RavenA great chief of the Pacific Northwest is creating his totem. The animals (beaver, bear, wolf, owl, eagle, frog, killer whale, otter, thunder, and raven) each present a quality that the chief might have that would lend itself to creating his totem.  Each tries to persuade him to include them.

Andy Everson, MTW Publisher, ©2007, 978-0-9784327-0-6

Build Your Own Totem

The entire book is built around the premise of finding the totem that symbolizes you. First, read the book to the students. At a second reading, as a listening skill, students can listen for those qualities each of the animals presents to the chief. The attached page includes a black line master for listening. After the discussion, ask students to use the little sketches to create a totem with 4 qualities that they would like to have.

The back of the book has a double-page spread with additional possible qualities including: hummingbird, duck, dragonfly, Canada goose, swan, loon, kingfisher, beetle, moon, and sun. Students might want to think about these qualities as well…although it makes the project even more complicated.

If You’re Not From BC

David Bouchard once was a principal in North Vancouver, BC. Since becoming an author and discovering his roots as an aboriginal, he has become one of the most evocative writers in the field. Author of over 50 books, he is a recipient of the Order of Canada.

My favourite from Dave Bouchard is If You’re Not From the Prairie… which is a lyrical praise of growing up in the prairies:

  • The sun is our friend from when we are young
  • If you’re not from the prairies, you don’t know the sun.

A good assignment might be for students to write an “If You’re Not from BC…” book.

For 4 creative writing ideas, click I am Raven to download.

Blue Willow

bluewillowThe legend behind the Blue Willow is the story of a girl who falls in love with a poor fisherman. Her father places obstacles in their path. First he says to wait until the fall, then until he finds money in the street then when a rainbow appears over the pavilion. Finally the daughter dies while  looking for her lover at sea during a storm. When her fisherman lover discovers her death, he cries out in anguish and is killed by the villages mistaking him for a screaming tiger. The rainbow and dove appear over the daughter’s pavilion. The father commissions the plate in memory of the two lovers.

Pam Conrad, ©1999, Philomel Books, ISBN 0-399-22904-3

The Common Elements of a Blue Willow Plate

Give students the black line master from the PDF of lesson ideas, and ask them to use those pictures to identify the common elements in all Blue Willow plates. Whatever the stories behind the Blue Willow  plate are, and there are several of them, the common elements are: a rainbow around the outside, a fishing boat, a pavilion, a small bridge with villagers on it, two dives flying, a house, and a tree.

The Story of the Blue Willow Plate

Before you read the book to the students, and after they have identified the common elements of the story, ask them to create a story, set in China that includes those elements. (You could give them small pictures of the elements to include in their story as illustrations.)

When they have their own stories, read them the book. Blue Willow is a very “tragic” tale of true love and the relationship between a father and daughter. It is a kind of Chinese Romeo and Juliet—of course,  you would then have to tell them the story of Romeo and Juliet. Maybe they could even construct a Venn Diagram comparing the two stories.

For 6 writing ideas, click Blue Willow to download.