All of us at International Elf Service are completely MAD about MAGIC. Especially the top secret kind! We just can’t get enough of it! So we’re constantly on the lookout for new and incredible magical worlds to create and explore, for children to find mysteriously around their home, inspiring even the most reluctant readers to dive into their imaginations and bring them to life.
And our most recent extraordinary adventure is the most magical yet – the discovery of wizards, witches, dragons and other mythical creatures at Roots of Fantastical Matters … a Top-Secret Invisible Archive where everything that’s ever been abracadabra’d is stored for Trainees of Magic to study. But not only that, it’s where Twig – a Tree Elf – makes copies of these remarkable records and delivers them as if by magic (or parent post) to curious children who like to read, and creative readers who love to experiment.
So how DO we make the top-secret magic of Wizards and Wonders?
Stories for learning and life
Our main aim when creating Roots of Fantastical Matters was to give children a magical keepsake that could be enjoyed and explored at any time of year – a spellbinding collection of engaging and creative stories that triggers their imaginations, encourages readers of all abilities and takes them on a series of unforgettable adventures! And, most importantly, we wanted to use it to support their schooling as well as the development of the critical skills they’d need in adulthood.
BUT! – and this was where we needed the help of a genius genie – we didn’t want anyone to realise they were learning …
Hidden independent learning
It seemed like an impossible task – secretly teaching children within a world of magic that was totally believable! But the solution was simple …
Imaginative readers will explore stories and learn from them regardless of whether they’re real or magical. They treat both states in exactly the same way. And so we realised that if we blended fiction with fact, we could put the characters of Roots of Fantastical Matters into quirky, other-worldly situations while giving them real solutions to answer their problems …
A story-based STREAM resource
With a team of qualified teachers and practitioners of sciences and the arts, we brainstormed ideas, created crazy and eccentric characters, built imaginary potion laboratories, enchanted castles, top-secret libraries and winding underground labyrinths, and more! Then, we found topics from the most important subjects in the curriculum – Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Art and Maths – and created a magical version of screen-free STREAM learning. Finally, we experimented with easy-to-find materials from around the home and included at least one upcycling activity in each story.
A Spell or a Potion?
Once planned, the adventures and activities were put together by an experienced writer of more than 40 children’s STREAM books. (She’s also a tea-aholic, so you’ll always find her settled next to her woodburner with a constantly boiling kettle and a string of teabags on a pulley!)
With a love of the dramatic and theatrical, she thinks about the characters in each scene … what they look like, who and where they are, how they sound, even how they smell! Then, with the help of rather too many sticky notes, she weaves a story of Spellbinding Science, Treasured Technology, Roots Research, Enchanting Engineering, Artful Art, Magical Maths or a mix of all six to create the incredible world of Roots of Fantastical Matters.
The final Magic Ingredient
Finally, after a gazillion checks and tweaks of the text, our most wonderful illustrator waves her magic wand over each individual story, bringing them to life with a huge variety of whimsical, witty and wonderful artwork.
Everyone in the International Elf Service team love the work they do to make Roots of Fantastical Matters come alive. And the best bit of all? When parents share photos of their children reading the stories, enjoying the activities, experimenting, testing and researching. Thank you to all the families who make this impossibly fantastical job possible and fantastical!