Pat Brisson - Author

Ideas for using


in the classroom

Elizabeth's Aunt Agatha has a magic carpet. It's pink and blue, with fringe on both ends.

But where did it come from?

"Truck," says Elizabeth, and the game begins.

Sitting on the rug, Elizabeth and Aunt Agatha spin a tale that starts in China. After the carpet is purchased-along with 999 others-it's loaded on a boat bound for the USA.

There are moose to see, baked potatoes and french fries to be eaten, and plenty of surprises along the way as two friends take one thousand carpets on a cross-country trip that leads one special rug to Aunt Agatha's living room.

Have your students map out the Magic Carpet's trip from China to Somerville, New Jersey. Have them estimate mileage and then use mileage charts or scale miles to roughly determine the distance covered.

Frank and Pierre decided to go across the country, stopping only in cities that begin with the letter S. Let your students choose one of their initials and map out a cross- country trip to cities which begin with that letter.

At the end of the story, Aunt Agatha and Elizabeth are getting ready to tell another story - of how the antique clock came from France to Aunt Agatha's house. Have your students write the story the way they think it may have happened. Remember to have lots of maps on hand for reference.

Younger students might enjoy making their own magic carpets. Use 18" x 24" manila paper with holes punched along both ends. After students have drawn and colored their designs, let them use rug yarn to tie fringe onto the ends of their carpets. Sitting on their carpets during story time in the library or classroom would be a perfect end to the activity.

Ask students to bring in old or unusual objects from home to use as storystarters in the classroom. An old frying pan, an unusual pen, a rag doll or an Indian head penny could all inspire stories. Where did the object come from? How did it end up here? Who used it or owned it along the way? Brainstorm together and list possible ideas on the board to help get them started. Try this as a solo activity or work in pairs, like Aunt Agatha and Elizabeth did.

What did Aunt Agatha and Elizabeth have for lunch as they told their story? Ask your students to work with a friend to design a storytelling menu that they would like to share as they make up a story. Arrange for a day when the partners will eat and make up a story together. Share the stories after lunch.

It you had a Magic Carpet, which could take you anywhere in the world, where would you go? Would you go to Africa for a safari? Would you go to Venice to ride a gondola? Would you go to Switzerland to ski? Have your students list ten places with one reason for wanting to go to that place. Share your lists over the course of a few days. To extend this activity further, have your students write to tourist bureaus for more information about one of the places they'd like to visit. Get addresses from an almanac or from the library. Check the Sunday paper's travel section for ideas, travel information and travel costs.

Have a place name tee shirt day. Invite your students to come to school wearing tee shirts from various places. How many states are represented by their tee shirts? Is more than one country represented? Can they line themselves up from east to west?

Start a post card collection from every state in the USA! Ask students to request post cards from friends and relatives in other states. If they can send post cards with a map of that state, even better. Use internet resources or write letters to the editor of weekly newspapers in states you need. Get names of papers from a directory at your public library. Have students write letters, explaining your project and politely requesting a post card. This could be an all year project. Good luck!