The Princess And The Genie

The Princess and The Genie
A Lyonesse adventure for years 1-3 
 
This is Alive & Kicking’s second Lyonesse adventure for Key Stage 1. Of the first adventure Sana from Blenheim Primary School writes: “In the beginning, I felt really shy but by the end, I wanted to do everything. It was like waking up.
 
The Island of Lyonesse is a fictional island based on the “Lost Lyonesse” of the Arthurian legends and Cornish myths of the land under the sea. Sometimes it can be seen above the waves – sometimes it sinks to the bottom of the ocean. In the first Lyonesse adventure: “The Princess who Couldn’t Play” Princess Leonora of Lyonesse was put under a terrible curse by the Witch Grimknickers which made her grumpy and grizzly and glum and ghastly and unable to play the singing and chasing and sharing games she loved. Leonora was saved, along with all of Lyonesse, by a class of children who taught her the games she had forgotten and broke the spell.
 
In this second adventure: “The Princess & The Genie”, we meet Leonora and a Genie, a Djinn called Abdul Akhtar. Several years have passed and Leonora is now a confident young women, clever and curious and always ready for adventure – but she runs into trouble and, once more, needs the children’s help.
 
One morning, walking along the seashore, beachcombing, Leonora comes across a large flask cast up on the sands. It is made of brass and is well stoppered and has some writing on it in several languages all of which can be translated as “Do not open! Danger! If found throw back into the sea immediately!”
 
Strange noises coming from the flask – some poor creature seems to be trapped inside and the kind hearted princess opens the stopper and, yes, lets out a Genie – a Djinn!
 
This Djinn is troubled and troublesome. Abdul Akhtar might look like an adult but behaves like a chaotic and ill disciplined child. He’s constantly looking for attention, playing tricks and misbehaving to get noticed. He can do magic but at the level of party tricks and they often don’t quite work or misfire with unexpected results.
 
The Djinn was sealed in the bottle over 2,000 years ago for reasons he hints at - but won’t talk about except in the way of indignant denial. He was innocent, they had no right, it was a frame up, he hadn’t meant to do whatever it was they said he did!
 
The story is a marvellous and exciting tale, drawing for inspiration on the many tales of Djinns and Genies and Affrits in the Arabian Nights. In it Abdul has a great wrong done to him, an abuse of power– but he also does great wrongs in retaliation. The source of Abdul’s anger and mistrust will be clear and the great hurt that is hiding under his mischief – but can the children help him to deal with it? Can they show understanding and point him the right way forward?
In The Princess and The Genie the children will be in the central heroic roles. They make the crucial decisions and they solve the problems.  It will promote confidence in communication skills, self expression, problem solving and creative and interdependent learning as well as an understanding of issues around anger management, resentment, appropriate social behaviour and dealing with guilt and blame as the children take responsibility for group cooperation and promoting self-belief in Abdul Akhtar, the Genie.
 
The project will create context and purpose for the development of speaking and listening skills, performance and storytelling, an understanding of drama and role play, an opportunity to connect with the Arabic culture of storytelling from which The Arabian Nights grew and also an opportunity to understand and explain some basic scientific concepts to someone with no grasp of modern technology. They will also learn some simple magical tricks and explore the difference between theatrical magic and the real magic of, for example, electricity. There will be an opportunity to extend children’s language and improve writing skills as opportunities for group work and independent study.
 
Parental and Community Involvement: The project will always involve parents and carers of the children. The school and the teachers will be encouraged to share the story and the adventure with the children’s family, sending the story home with the children to be read and encouraging them to share the problem of understanding, socialising and communicating with Abdul Akhtar and his friend Leonora. Alive & Kicking will provide all the necessary resources to make this possible.
Literacy: There will be a focus on story, story reading and story interrogation and understanding. The writing within the project is totally contextualised. The story telling and invention are for a purpose beyond the need to please a teacher and pass exams – they are for communication, for proving a point, for persuasion, for problem solving. Children will have the opportunity to write prose, poetry (as a group activity as well as individually), persuasion and instruction as part of the project.
Emotional Literacy: Central to “The Princess & The Genie” will be the role of the children under the mantle of the expert as counsellors to the Genie. This will involve activities such as drawing an outline of Abdul and filling it with art and language to help describe his inner world – the chip on his shoulder, the hurt in his heart. Alive & Kicking are consulting with teachers, head teachers and teachers responsible for pastoral care in the preparation of this part of the project and we will be modelling dealing with hurt and anger, taking responsibility for consequences and finding a way forward.
Social Responsibility: After the project the children and their teachers will be left with one last task – the making of  “A Message in a Bottle”. This will be their Little Book of Advice to the Genie to help keep him out of trouble in the future.
Learning across the wider curriculum: Myth, history, literature and drama are a part of the project but it will also promote thinking and problem solving skills, the extension of children's language and provide a context for teachers to take the work into other curriculum areas. As a part of the project we aim to inspire teachers and pass on skills which can be used in the classroom.
Maths & Science: In order to explain the workings of electricity and other scientific concepts to the Genie, the teachers will be given resource material to advise on: the building of a simple electric circuit, floating and sinking materials and shapes, multiple choice branch pathways (to help Abdul with his behaviour), safety online (as they help Abdul to understand computers), maps and keys of islands and oceans, maths, as they help Abdul learn to play simple mathematical games.
History: Driven by the need to understand Abdul Akhtar, the children will need to envision the world of two thousand years ago when he was put in the bottle – a world without television, computers, cars, aeroplanes etc. We are advised by teachers that this is a very difficult and very desirable thing to achieve.
Cultural Diversity: Much of the inspiration for the story of the Genie or Djinn comes from research into the “Thousand and One Nights” and the Arabic story telling tradition.
Dexterity: After their success in saving Lyonesse and Abdul from disaster there will be a chance for Abdul to teach the children some simple magic tricks involving sleight of hand.
Narrowing the gap: The work is cooperative – everyone has to help and everyone can be right. It’s always the case with our work that the most unlikely children, the shy, the self-conscious, the unruly, the learning challenged are suddenly the most useful – the stars of the show. “She never normally says anything!”
Behaviour, effort, attendance, concentration: As we have discovered from our other projects in this style, no child will wanted to miss it, not a second of it – they will be fighting to be there and quickly adapt their behaviour towards the success of the endeavour – why? Because they realise very quickly – that it’s fun, that they are not only important but central to the success of the project – and that they can’t be wrong!!
 
 
 

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