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Lesson Plan

Behind the Scenes With Cinderella

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Behind the Scenes With Cinderella

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Approximately seven 45- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Carol L. Butterfield

Ellensburg, Washington


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Sessions 1–2: Setting the Scene

Sessions 3–5: Researching the Setting

Sessions 6–7: Writing Folk Tales


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Think critically by comparing different versions of the same folk tale and discussing how the settings of the stories influence their telling

  • Use graphic organizers to identify story elements and compare folk tales

  • Practice research skills by completing specific online language arts projects that are connected to aspects of one of the stories' settings (architecture and weather)

  • Present research projects to the class

  • Apply the writing process (i.e., prewrite, draft, revise, edit, and publish) by writing and editing their own folk tales

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Sessions 1–2: Setting the Scene

1. Access prior knowledge by asking students to share what they know about the story Cinderella. Have they read books or seen movies or plays of this story? Have any of them read versions of the story that were slightly different from each other?

2. Show students the French version of Cinderella by Charles Perrault. Emphasize and point out the setting of the story (France) on a world map. Ask students to share what they know about France. Explain that Charles Perrault lived almost 400 years ago and that his version of Cinderella is the one that was adapted by Walt Disney into the movie.

3. Read aloud the story Cinderella, pausing to discuss the architecture, weather, time period, and culture as depicted in the text and through the illustrations.

4. On one half of a large sheet of butcher paper, chart and review the setting of Perrault’s Cinderella, including the architecture, weather, time period, and culture. [Reserve the other half of the butcher paper for comparing the setting of Moss Gown.] Discuss and chart how the setting and time period influences the story line or plot. Questions for discussion include:
  • Why was the ball so important to Cinderella and her stepsisters? What does this have to do with when and where the story is set?

  • Why do you think Cinderella forgave her stepsisters at the end? What does this say about what was important in this culture?

  • Would the story be different if it were set where we live today? How?
5. Introduce Moss Gown by William H. Hooks by giving a short book talk. Set the scene by pointing out North Carolina on a map of the United States and discussing the time period and the culture of the pre-Civil War South. Encourage students to predict how Moss Gown will be similar to and different from Perrault's Cinderella. Record students' predictions on a new sheet of butcher paper.

6. Have students individually or with a partner read Moss Gown silently. Distribute the Story Map Handout or have students work in pairs to complete the interactive Story Map online after they finish reading the text.

7. Gather the class together and have students use their completed story maps to discuss the setting of Moss Gown as they did with Perrault’s version. Chart students' responses on the second half of the butcher paper. Questions for discussion include:
  • Does the place where this story is set and the weather play an important role in the story? How and why? Point out specific examples from the text.

  • What is the moral of the story or the main point the author is trying to make? What does the moral have to do with the time period and setting of the story?

  • What are the differences between this story and the other version of Cinderella we read?

  • Would the story be different if it were set where we live today? How?
8. Encourage students to continue discussing and comparing how the different settings influence the plot of the two stories.

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Sessions 3–5: Researching the Setting

1. As a whole class, review the chart comparing Moss Gown to Perrault's Cinderella, focusing particular attention on the weather and architecture in Moss Gown.

2. Tell students that they will be working with a partner to further explore the setting of Moss Gown. Half the class will study architecture, the other half, hurricanes. Help students choose partners and topics. Have students bring their notebooks and pencils as they work on the computers; two students should work on each computer.

3. Distribute the Architecture Comparisons handout to the student pairs who chose the architecture topic. Explain that these students will be researching and learning about the plantations of the southeastern United States, which are described in Moss Gown as "a snow-white house, pillared with eight marble columns on every side."

4. Distribute the Hurricanes handout to the student pairs working on that topic. Explain that students will be researching and learning about the type of hurricane discussed in Moss Gown. ("A mighty blast, howling like a hurt animal, lifted her up and sent her flying over the black-green cypress treetops.")

5. When the online research and projects are complete, reserve time for students to share and reflect on them with the entire class.

Homework (due at the beginning of Session 6): Assign another Cinderella version for students to read for homework (see Preparation, Step 3). [For further variation in discussion, you might assign two or three different versions to groups of students.] Distribute a copy of the Story Map Handout or encourage students to use the interactive Story Map. Students will need to complete a story map that focuses on the setting of the Cinderella story they read and be prepared to share in class how the setting impacts the story.

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Sessions 6–7: Writing Folk Tales

1. Provide time for students to share their homework from Session 5. Students who read the same Cinderella version can collaborate to share their story maps and insights on how the setting impacts the story.

2. Introduce students to another version of the Cinderella story (see Preparation, Step 3).

3. Have students brainstorm the differences and similarities between the setting of the new Cinderella version and the student's own setting or environment. They can do this individually or in pairs. Have students chart the comparison using the Venn Diagram. They should print their work when they are finished.

Note: You may choose to complete the Venn diagram as a whole-class activity using an LCD projector. Print and copy the final diagram for each student.

4. Using the Venn diagram printout, each student can then complete a Story Map Handout or the interactive Story Map for his or her own version of the Cinderella story.

5. Students should write, edit, revise, and illustrate their own Cinderella stories using their story maps as a guide. Distribute the Peer Editing Guide to aid students as they edit each other's work.

6. Have students share their Cinderella stories with the class and with a buddy in kindergarten or first grade.

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  • Choose another version of Cinderella set in a different geographic area for students to read (see Retelling the Cinderella Story for ideas). Have students research the geographic area online and create a travel brochure. The travel brochure should include maps of the location, the architecture, weather, and points or information of interest (e.g., historical sites, natural phenomena). Have students share their travel brochures and display them in class.

  • Have students write revised versions of well-know fairy tales using the Fractured Fairy Tales tool. Students can choose to revise The Princess and the Pea, Jack and the Beanstalk, or Little Red Riding Hood by changing the characters, perspective, setting, beginning, ending, or any other aspect of the story. Ask students to print the stories and assemble them into a book.

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  • During Sessions 1–2, observe students during class discussions. Are they able to correctly identify the different aspects of the setting and culture and relate them to the plot of the story? Are they able to correctly identify the differences between the two stories and to identify some of the reasons these are so? If not, you may want to give students more practice using either additional versions of the Cinderella story or a different folk tale.

  • Collect the completed story maps and Venn diagram for review. Check to make sure that students are able to identify story elements including setting, plot, and characterization. Check also to make sure that students can successfully compare the stories. If necessary, schedule personal conferences with students who need extra help.

  • Assess students’ research projects, checking to see how well students complete the assignment as listed on the instruction handouts and how well they are able to present their projects to the class.

  • Use the Sample Writing Rubric (or create a rubric of your own) to assess final drafts of writing activities, including the research projects and the stories students write.


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