Monday, June 13, 2016

Writing Instructions with A Fairy Friend

Guest post by Sue Fliess

To believe in magic fills the heart and mind with wonder. As a child, I always imagined I wasn’t alone and believed that some kind of magical creatures must exist. Were there aliens? Beings that we couldn’t see, but lived among us? So tiny we didn’t know they were there, or so big that our Earth could fit on their fingernail? I thought anything was possible.

In my newest book, A Fairy Friend, illustrated by Claire Keane and published by Macmillan, I write about magical, mystical fairies; how they live among us, and how one only needs to know where to look and what to do to attract one.

The story invites the reader to join that miniature dream world by giving detailed instructions on how to do so. 

Want to have one come to you?
Here is what you need to do…
Build a house of twigs and blooms,
Decorate her fairy rooms—
Walls of blossoms, cotton floor,
Sparrow feather for her door.  

This is a great opportunity for you to have your class write their own set of instructions (explaining to them that they are writing from a second person point of view), talking directly to their reader. 

Have students choose something they are passionate about—sports, dancing, dogs, playing an instrument, building, cooking, etc. The first few sentences can be description about that topic or thing.

Friendly fairies soar the skies,
Ride the backs of dragonflies.
Wings of fairies shimmer, spark,
Twinkle, glimmer in the dark.

The next part can be where they write out instructions on, for example, how to score a goal in soccer, how to teach a dog to sit, how to pirouette, construct a fort, or even how to make a peanut butter sandwich.

Encourage them to be as detailed as possible, and to assume that the reader has never tried this particular thing before. If possible, as with the dance move, have the other students follow the instructions of their peers.

They can wrap it up by writing about the results of following the actions – how it feels to score a goal, what it’s like to perform a ballet recital, how yummy a peanut butter sandwich is, and so on.

Many reluctant writers find writing instructions lots of fun. And it is a welcome change for  students to be able to instruct someone else on what do to, instead of always being told what do to. 

BIO: Sue Fliess ("fleece") is the author of numerous children's books including A Fairy Friend, Calling All Cars, Robots, Robots Everywhere!, The Hug Book, Tons of Trucks and Shoes for Me! Her background is in copywriting, PR, and marketing, and her articles have appeared in O the Oprah Magazine, Huffington Post, Writer's Digest,, and more. Her Oprah article was included in the anthology, O's Little Book of Happiness. Fliess has also written stories for The Walt Disney Company. Her picture books have received honors from the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators, have been used in school curriculums, museum educational programs, and have even been translated into French. She's a member of SCBWI and The Children's Book Guild of DC. Sue lives with her family and a Labrador named Charlie in Northern Virginia. Visit her at


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