Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fairy Tale Activities and Teaching Ideas

Yesterday, I posted a short study on Jack and the Beanstalk.   I enjoyed reading every version I could get my hands on, and then I spent time analyzing and comparing.  This activity is also perfect as a class or home project.  You may be surprised how much you and your children will learn.    

1.  Check out every version available at the library. 
2.  Read them together and discuss similarities and differences.  Here are some areas to consider.  Most of these are specific to Jack and the Beanstalk, but hopefully, they will spur you to consider types of areas to evaluate in any fairy tale.  Focus on both general (setting) and specific (hiding places) elements to the tale of your choice.
  • Setting
  • Catalyst (what starts the action)
  • Protagonist
  • Protagonist’s character qualities (description)
  • Description of the mother
  • Describe the trade
  • Number of trips up the stalk
  • Reason for return(s), if any
  • Description of greeter at the top of the stalk, if any
  • Description of giant
  • Chorus (fee, fie, foe)
  • Variations in chorus throughout story
  • Hiding places, if any
  • Items taken/given
  • Protagonist’s outcome 
  • Antagonist’s outcome
3.   Pick 2 or more (depending on age of children) to do an in-depth comparison. 
  • Use a Venn diagram as a comparison tool (good for comparison of 2 or 3 stories).  Use a Venn diagram with lines for younger children.  
  • Create a chart or excel spread sheet to explore the different versions.  On the left side list the areas in #2 and on the top put in the story titles. 
  • Write a paragraph (either together or independently) discussing the similarities and differences between 2 or more versions.
  • Put the versions in order of publication.  Evaluate and discuss how they have changed and how those differences reflect cultural changes.  For example, modern versions have female protagonists.  Earlier versions were more didactic. 
  • Write a book review on your favorite version. 
  • Draw two parallel comic strips (one from each of the 2 versions chosen).  Depict the similarities and differences with a one to one correspondence of drawings. In other words, in both strips in same place illustrate the scenes with the hiding place, the items stolen, the trade, and so forth. 
  • Act out scenes from 2 or more versions.
4.   Delve in deeper to consider the significance of the story and the elements of the plot.  Why do so many cultures have their own retellings?  What might this story reveal about human nature?  Childhood?   
5.   Older children can do research on the fairy tale to write an essay or to add to the discussion on it.  The Classic Fairy Tales (by Maria Tatar) is an excellent resource as well as the website SuLaLune.  
6.   Try some other literature extension activities as well, like the ones at Primary Resources.

Most of all, children will be enjoying the different fairy tale versions and having fun comparing them.  Little will they realize, they are exercising important critical thinking skills.  

This post is linked up with Sunday Showcase at Momto2LilPoshDivas where dozens of teaching ideas are highlighted each week.   


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