Watchers – Free teaching guides

Watchers October Sale

Free teaching guides for classroom use.

About the book:
In bed at night a child hears noises and sees eyes in the darkness. Curiosity overcomes fear and he discovers that what he has seen and heard is not his imagination, but a group of fairies, there to protect and watch over him. Told in rhyme and illustrated by W. Lyon Martin, the book is based on a poem by Kelley ‘Duckie” Magee.

About free teaching guides:
Free teaching guides include discussion questions and projects appropriate for book clubs, literature circles, library, home and classroom study. It is intended to encourage discussion and experimentation with rhyme, and provoke thought and insight into the subject and themes of this book including fear, especially of the dark, and fairies—common themes in children’s literature and experience.

Pre-reading Activity:
Many people—both children and adults–are afraid of the dark. Give each child a blank piece of paper or open to a clean page if they are using a writing journal. Ask them if they are afraid of the dark. Why or why not? Have them write about it, or draw pictures to express their experiences and feelings. Brainstorm and share ideas for overcoming this fear.
Alternate: Discuss, write and/or draw the positive aspects of darkness (the womb, the earth, places for seeds to germinate, cocoons, caves, nocturnal animals etc.)

Discussion Guide:
The inspiration behind this story started with a poem. Read the original 4-line poem provided in the Acknowledgment section of the book, and have students discuss how the story was developed from there. CREATIVE WRITING ACTIVITY: Using well-known short poems, prayers or nursery rhymes, have the students write and illustrate their own original stories to share.
Why is the child in the story afraid of the dark? Discuss the similarities and differences of what he imagines, and what the Watchers really are. How do the pictures in the book illustrate this?
How does the child in the story overcome his fear? What would you do in the same situation? What advice would you give to a friend in the same situation?
There are five fairies in the story, each with its own job. What fairies or jobs would you add if you could have your own “watchers?”
Do the fairies look like you expected them to? What does a fairy look like to you. Show illustrations of fairies from different times, cultures and artists and discuss. How are they different? What do they have in common?

Projects Across the Curriculum:

Language Arts:
Writing in Rhyme
Define rhyme. Using Watchers as a model, go over selected stanzas to illustrate rhyming words. Have students make lists of rhyming words for practice. Discuss why there are some words that do not rhyme.
Examine the rhyming words in Watchers to find the story’s rhyming pattern.
Define syllables. Find multi-syllablic words in the lines of selected stanzas. Count the syllables in each line.
Define rhythm. Have students read stanzas of Watchers aloud; discuss which syllables are emphasized. Compare rhyming poetry to song lyrics. What are the similarities and differences?

Play and sing fairy songs (visit the following links for suggestions):
Fairy Worlds — Music
Lair 2000 — Fairy Music
Discuss: What makes a song a fairy song—what sounds, words, etc. would you associate with the fairy realm?

Discussion: The fairies in the story are hiding in the beginning of the book, and are slowly revealed in the illustrations as the story progresses. Find the fairies in each illustration. How do they change? How is the child’s perception of the fairies depicted in the illustrations. How are they similar and different to the fairies’ actual appearance?
In the story, the main character cannot tell exactly what it is that he is seeing because of the darkness. Have students close their eyes (or use a blindfold), and give them an object to hold. Have the students draw or sculpt his object based solely on his “feeling” of it. When he’s completed his work, show him the object. Compare, contrast and discuss.

Counting the syllables (beats) in each line and add them up. Add the total number of each line to get a stanza total, and then a grand total for the entire story.
Utilize the watchers to define patterns and series (numbers follow sequences and patterns just like rhyming poetry). Identify the rhyming pattern of Watchers, as well as other rhyming poems (try other forms such as the limerick or sonnet). Use multiplication tables to illustrate number patterns or series. Examine and discuss the similarities between the mathematical and literary patterns.

This guide was created by Natalie Zaman, a NJ Certified Teacher (English K-12), co-author of Graven Images Oracle ( and an editor, writer and co-founder of Broomstix, a new age online magazine for children.