Folk and Fairy Tales Unit
Introduction: Folk and Fairy tales are old stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. They have a very long “oral” history, which means they were told rather than written down for many years. The Grimm Brothers gathered many of these oral stories, such as “Cinderella” and wrote them down in the 1700s. Hans Christian Andersen is also known for writing many fairy tales such as “The Ugly Duckling”.
These tales often have morals, or lessons, to tell. They have a common theme of good vs. evil. Sometimes it is the prince against the evil monster, or a bad pirate. Sometimes it is a wicked witch or a crafty wolf and a young girl or boy. Fairy tales and folktales are built around a conflict between the good and evil characters.
Activity: Make a Fairy tale Good vs. Evil chart. List three fairy tales and their good and evil characters. Then list the conflict between them.
Have the class list as many folk and fairy tales as they can think of.
The Mitten: Read The Mitten, a Ukranian Folktale by Jan Brett. Use two mittens (one small and one large) and cut-out animals to retell the story. Use Alvin Tresselt’s version to show the difference between them and explain that this happens when stories are told instead of written down for so many years.
Rumpelstiltskin: View a portion of the Reading Rainbow video, Rumpelstiltskin. The feature book in this video is Paul O. Zelinsky’s Caldecott Honor book. After viewing the video, read Rumpelstiltskin from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, illustrated by William J. Dugan (A Little Golden Book). Have students compare and contrast the two stories.
Cinderella: (Note to teachers: This lesson could easily last more than one class period.) This lesson is a much smaller version of The Cinderella Project at the University of Southern Mississippi. http://www.usm.edu/english/fairytales/cinderella/cinderella.html
Also check out the Cinderella Internet Sharing Project on Mrs. Nash’s 2nd grade homepage: http://www.myschoolonline.com/page/0,1871,53964-135059-56-14776,00.html
Yeh-Shen is the earliest known version written down by Tuan Ch’en-shih in the mid ninth century. There are now over 1,000 version of the Cinderella story around the world including picture books, songs, and movies.
Activity: Read to the students several Cinderella stories. Include Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale, and the classic Grimm’s tale, or the Disney version. Have the students compare and contrast the versions of Cinderella, and list the common elements in each story.
Little Red Riding Hood Activity: Have students tell you what they know about Little Red Riding Hood. Explain that this is another fairy tale and there are several different versions. Read James Marshall’s version of Red Riding Hood and also Lon Po-Po: A Red Riding Hood story from China.
Fractured Fairy Tales: Review the tales you have read so far in this unit. Explain that a Fractured Fairy Tale is a story written more recently and is based on an old fairy tale or folktale. The stories use the same characters and similar situations, but aren’t quite the way we remember them.
Read a few of the following Fractured Fairy Tales:
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
Somebody and the Three Blairs by Marilyn Tolhurst
3 Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivias
Conclusion: Discuss what students have learned about folktales and fairy tales. Talk about the elements of good vs. evil, oral histories and different versions, the Grimm Brothers, and Hans Christian Andersen. Show students the 398.2 section of the library where fairy tales and folktales can be found. Encourage them to check out one of the books they find there.