Preemptive note of clarification: while the first and second grades are individually known as the Aspens and Pinions, respectively, on occasion they are grouped into the same cohort wherein they are collectively called the “Pinpens.” Lately, the Pinpens have embarked on a unit exploring the elements of storytelling, including aspects of structure, setting, and character development. While such items are already thrilling to the likes of English majors like me when addressed as specific, logistical terms, Jen is much more artful in bringing them to the attention of young minds. Hence, the Pinpens are ensconced in tales of dragons. The project actually overlaps with their art classes, too, wherein they are designing and building an array of visual accoutrements, including puppets and illustrations, and Jen and Keri are working together to design the larger curriculum. During ELA, students have begun their understanding of story elements largely by deconstructing existing books with unexpected outcomes. In Martin Baynton’s Jane and the Dragon, for instance, the main character, Jane, wants to be a knight, though her mother wants her to be a lady in waiting. During classroom reading, Jen therefore guides the students in what realistically amounts to an introduction to feminist theory, as they discuss the ways in which their expectations of gender and plot are influenced by story and can be manipulated. The Pinpens’ predictions for the plot reflect the stories they’ve become accustomed to within the wider idiom of their culture, and they enjoy how Baynton’s characters reveal creative potential as they defy expectations. The dragon in the same book is sad because, rather than being known as a terror, a job he thinks is required of dragons, he really just wants a friend, which is the role that Jane ends up filling as she becomes a new type of knighted heroine. Good children’s stories mask such heady intellectualism within carefully crafted imagery, rich character development, and catchy emotional drama, all of which the students recognize and learn to imitate. Their discussions focus on their own social and emotional development, as they relate to character while they listen and respond to each other’s ideas. Currently, they’re writing their own dragon stories, purposefully using common structural modes (beginning, middle, and end; problems posed and solved; supporting characters, etc.) to provide a baseline of coherence, while at the same time developing unique modes of descriptive imagery and unexpected outcomes for their novel creations. Keri has likewise invested time during math to address the shapes needed to complete their puppets, centering discussions on the practical uses of right angles, cylinders, and spheres for stable designs, then turning the kids loose with their own imaginations to produce individual artwork. As the unit culminates, the Pinpens will increasingly think of their stories as potential, publishable books, and they’ll likewise build a castle during STEAM to use as backdrop when they present their finished works to one another.