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Teaching Story Elements with Fairy Tales

Compiled By: Meggin

Recognizing story elements of fairy tales is an important part of the study of this genre.

fairy tales
Posted by: Chris

You could go with the standard lessons on the components of fairy tales: immerse the students in a lot of them, reading aloud, partner reading, etc... Then have student work together to identify what is in a fairy tale. List them on chart paper, go back a read more to confirm. Extend with the writing of their own. OR, you could extend (or begin) with a look at "fractured fairy tales"(tales written from the perspective of a different character, i.e.: stepmother in Cinderella, etc...) and lessons on point of view. Students could write their own, after brainstorming collectively fairy tales to work with and possible fractures. Good Luck!

Posted by: Michelle

Hi Mel,
Every year at the beginning of the year I do a fairy tale unit with my fourth graders. It's a nice way to ease them into the year. We talk about characteristics of fairy tales, and read different ones checked out from the library. I also like to get a bunch of different versions of fairy tales- Cinderella is an easy one. We do wanted posters. Like Wanted: the big bad wolf
For: destroying pigs' houses
By: The Three little pigs...etc etc. They draw a picture etc.
Then we write a fairy tale of our own. I let them choose if they want to come up with their own idea or put a spin on an existing fairy tale. like: Cinderella as told by the glass slipper

Hope this helps a little

Plot Triangle
Posted by: Mr.L.

Hi, I teach plot using fairy tale picture books. The first day we go over the elements of PLOT after I have read a book such as beauty and the Beast or Little Red Riding Hood. We read the story together (read aloud) and then We list the characters, setting, rising action, climax, and falling action and solution. I use a right triangle diagram on the chart paper and list the setting, characters, genre on the base line. On the hypotinuse I list the rising actions in order. Start high and work my way down to the line. Then the Climax is at the top of the triangle. The falling action after the climax is on the other leg of the triangle. Because it is a right trianlgle, the kids think of the words as falling. The solution is written on the the vertex where the base and leg meet. an more questions, email me

just did it!
Posted by: Cathy

Hi Margaret,

My kids just did this and the letters were hysterical! First we brainstormed "bad" characters in stories we have read, especially fairy tales. They each chose a character and completed a web. On the web were three prongs:
1. What I did that was so bad
2. Excuses! Excuses! Excuses!
3. My gift list
They had to write a persuasive two paragraph letter to Santa. In the first paragraph, they had to tell who they were, what they "supposedly" did that was so bad and their excuses. In the second paragraph, they had to ask for Santa's forgiveness and understanding and then of course tell him what they hoped they would be getting for Christmas. They had so much fun with these, even my kids who hate to write.
I gave them cute Christmas paper to copy or type their letters. We're hanging them on a bulletin board with Santa in the middle and the banner Dear Santa, I can explain.

Have fun!

to start
Posted by: cm

Introduce the idea of plot by utilizing a story map. I like to use the analogy as the plot of a story being like climbing a mountain. Students can draw the organizer or you can make one up.

Grab a fairy tale or a kids' book that has a strong plot. Stories are made up of an introduction about how the character gets to the situation they are in. Next are three events of rising action. This is followed by the climax and lastly the resolution.

Read the story first. Next, model for students on the overhead as you graph plot points on the mountain. (Intro at base of the mountain. Each conflict or plot point moves up in rising action up the mountain. Briefly jot down a phrase to describe the event. The climax of the story is at the peak of the mountain--(like the prince finds cinderella and puts the shoe on her foot). Finally the action goes down the mountain again with the resolution. Resolution wraps up the loose ends of the story. Resolution is like "so they got married and everyone was happy" or "and so little Johnny learned his leason and never did that again".

After you have modeled this, have students draw their own organizer and this time read another story. They can draw the mountain and chart the story with clues from you and giving them time to write the ideas.

Finally, have them choose their own books and graph the story map. This would be a good partner activity.

fairy tales
Posted by: Cathy

Kids really enjoy listening to fairy tales followed by fractured fairy tales. The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Sciezca is hysterical. When we do these, we write our own fractured fairy tales, bringing the characters into modern day with modern problems. Kids can be really creative and funny when they write these. I usually have them begin with a story map to plan what the story will be about. They list which characters they'll use and what fairy tales they're from. Then, they choose a setting and a major problem. Before they begin writing, they get with a partner and share their story map so they can get even more (funny) ideas. Usually they get so wound up, they can't wait to actually write it. Good luck!

Same Page
Posted by: Teri

Jeff, Our 3rd grade team is also doing fairy tales in the month of September. We haven't done it before, but we've been brainstorming many ideas. We have a ton of ideas so if you give me your email address I can forward to "stuff" as we create it and/or come across it.

Lon Po Po (Chinese Little Red Riding Hood) -- The kids will compare and contrast the traditional story to this story. Then we're going to have them make puppets from paper bags and do a scene from the story.

The Three Javelinas - Great story, especially if you live in the desert as we do in Arizona. :-) Then we'll read the "True Story of the 3 Little Pigs" which is a story told from the wolf's perspective. Then the kiddos will choose another story to write from the antaganist's (sp?) point of view. These are fabulous to read!

Jolly Postman - This is a Chris Van Allsburg book so I think we're going to do literature circles with it.

You could choose any fairy tale and find many, many different versions. Cinderella is also a good one. In our (limited) library, we have quite a few copies of different Cinderella stories.

We're also going to have the students write their own fairy tales. We're going to have them create maps of fairy tale land. We're trying to integrate. Although I've rambled on and on, there's more I can give you since we've got a general map of the month. Like I said, email me.

Here are a few websites also:

Fairy Tales

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Andersen’s Fairy Tales

Fairy Tale Chart
Posted by: Kat's Mom

During our fairy tales unit, we always record the elements that make each story we've read a fairy tale and post them on a chart until the end of the unit. We read diff. Cinderellas too. The children must venn diagram two of them for a compare/contrast during the unit.
For tall tales, after reading a story, the children record in their literacy logs what events made the story tall and also record several that could happen in real life. (The real life events are much harder to find.) At the end of the unit, we culminate with writing our own tall tales, of course, beginning with a web where we map out the tall events that will occur, adding details when we write the stories. All is modeled first, of course. There are a few Reader's Theater pieces on tall tales that are fun to read during this unit as well. Luckily, my basal has one, but if you ask around on here, I bet someone will know a book or website where you can get your hands on one!

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Hey back
Posted by: Cathy-Dee

Yes I do teach fairy tales as a unit and in fact will be doing my unit in the next few months. I haven't looked through my "stuff" so I am not sure what I am doing this year as I like to change things a bit every year. Some things I do for the unit are....

- create a character chart where we make a list of all the characters we read about and whether they are "good" or "evil" characters.

- create a list of fairy tale words - I put on a chart for students to use in their writing.

- we read quite a few stories that have different versions and then vote on which version we liked best.

- for art I have them create a poster for their favorite story.

- we usually write two stories. The first one is a retelling of a popular story like The three little pigs or Little Red Riding Hood. This I find helps some of the weaker students understand sequence better. Then I have them write their own story - this is always towards the end of the unit.

- I also have a number of little books that I can photocopy and other materials that are fun to use.

If you want, email me directly and when I make copies of all my things I'll be using I'll send you a care package as well.

writing centers
Posted by: Brenda

Gel pens are great with dark paper. It's true that all centers require training, but time invested in the front end saves grief in the tail end.
It also helps to let them write to actual authors who do write back, such as Jan Brett, or Eric Arle. Their snail mail addresses are posted on their homepages.
Another fun activity is interactive writing as part of a fairy tale genre study. Read Cinderella or other such univerisal fairy tales and talk about the 6 elements of a fairy tale.
1Begins once upon a time,2. Has a good character,
3. Has an evil character, 4. Usually has a special number, 5. There is a magical event,6. Usually ends with...they lived happily ever after. We talk about what the story has that meets the elements. I then model writing what they say...exactly. I then reread exactly, we talk about whether or not it sounds right, makes sense, looks right. Roles: One student is to give the sentence. A second student is to use one finger to space words...two fingers between sentences. Then students tell me a sentence, they write, We edit as we go. At least six different students write six different sentences and each needs to contain the one of the elements.
Later I put up the paper (chart paper). Leave markers there and they interactively write a fairy tale. Roles: One student is to give the sentence. A second student is to use one finger to space words...two fingers between sentences. I usually don't want more than 3 Ss at a center.