Unlock Kids’ Imaginations with a Fantasy Genre Study

Try a fantasy genre study in your upper elementary classroom! Start by reading classic stories. Then ask kids to imagine fantastic characters, settings, and plots of their own.

Ms. Sneed Begins Her Fantasy Genre Study

Our favorite fourth grade teacher stood in front of her class. “Good morning, everyone,” said Ms. Sneed. “Today we’ll begin our fantasy genre study.”

“I hope it involves dragons,” said a student in the front of the room.

Teaching Elements of Fantasy

Ms. Sneed smiled. “Okay, you know that dragons appear the fantasy genre. What other characters do you think we’ll study?” She signaled that they could call out freely.



“Creepy creatures!”

As they continued, Ms. Sneed slid an anchor chart onto the projector. “As you said,” she said, “our fantasy genre study will include fantastic characters. Most stories, however, mix in realistic elements. For example, the characters in our first story are talking animals. The setting and plot, however, could occur in our world.”

Kick off your fantasy genre study with an anchor chart.
Are you feeling “pinspired”? Feel free to pin images from this post.

Use Age-Appropriate Reading Passages in Your Fantasy Genre Study

Over the course of the next week, Ms. Sneed’s explored the genre with five reading passages:

  • “Rowing” (2 pages) – In this adaptation from the first chapter of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Mole longs to row the boat. Rat kindly explains that he needs a few lessons. Unfortunately, Mole becomes impatient, grabs the oars, and overturns the boat. Patiently, Rat saves Mole and retrieves their belongings from the water.
  • “My Father Meets a Lion” (2 pages) – In this excerpt from My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet, Elmer meets a lion with snarled hair. The lion tells Elmer that he will eat him, but Elmer’s quick thinking saves him. He pulls a comb and brush from his backpack and shows the lion how to braid his hair. The lion becomes so engrossed in his hair that he doesn’t even see Elmer slip away.
  • “Alice and the Caterpillar” (2 pages) – This adaptation from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll finds Alice shrunk to only three inches tall. She meets a caterpillar, who tells her to eat from the mushroom. One side will make her taller, and the other will make her shorter. But which side is which?
  • “The Fairy Queen” (3 pages) – This adaptation of “The Birthday Honors of the Fairy Queen” by Hapgood Moore tells how a gloomy girl gets dimples. Nora meets fairies in the woods and attends the fairy queen’s birthday. What she sees changes her life.
  • “The Velveteen Rabbit” (5 pages) – An adaptation of the entire text of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams tells the touching story of a stuffed rabbit who becomes real.
Immerse kids in fantasy with five classic stories.

After each story, Ms. Sneed asked her class to respond in different ways. Sometimes, she used traditional questions. Other times, the students listed the elements on a table or story arc. All the while, they built understanding of the genre – and prepared to imagine their own stories.

During their fantasy genre study, kids can respond to literature in different ways: questions, organizer, or story arc.

Add Writing to Your Fantasy Genre Study

The following week, Ms. Sneed was ready for fantasy writing.

To kick off the project, students considered whether their characters, setting, and plot would be fantastic, realistic, or a mix. Then they listed the elements of their story on a table.

Next, kids brainstormed and generated details about the challenge faced by their character(s). Additionally, they elaborated on the setting.

Finally, they plotted their tales on story arcs.

The second part of a successful fantasy genre study is writing. Kids generate ideas with a variety of prompts.

After that, the students drafted their stories. Using their organizers, the process was seamless. Of course, they stopped from time to time to share their ideas with their seat mates.


Over the next few days, Ms. Sneed continued the fantasy genre study with revisions. Her students worked on varying sentence structure, improving word choice, and adding transitions. After that, they used checklists to edit their work.

As you wrap up your fantasy genre study, ask kids to revise their writing by varying sentences and improving word choice.

Enjoy Teaching Your Fantasy Genre Study

Finally, Ms. Sneed’s class typed the final drafts of their stories, added images, and printed their finished work.

“Fantastic!” the teacher exclaimed. Then, as usual, she created a big display in the hall. As she stood back and admired their futuristic masterpieces, a smile spread across her face. Yes, this fantasy genre study was a real hit.

The Power of Genre Studies

Whether you’re teaching fantasy, science fiction, realistic fiction, historical fiction, humorous fiction, mysteries, mythologies, or fables, genre studies engage students like never before. When you scaffold learning from reading short stories to writing, kids have fun while honing their ELA skills.

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