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HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Fairy Tales from Life

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Fairy Tales from Life

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Eight 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Patricia Schulze

Yankton, South Dakota

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Session Five

Session Six

Sessions Seven and Eight

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Student will

  • listen to and read fairy tales, focusing on comprehension and analytical skills.

  • analyze the fairy tales for common elements and genre characteristics.

  • collaborate to gather information and complete other prewriting activities.

  • compose an original fairy tale, based on personal experiences.

  • present their fairy tales to class.

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Session One

  1. Since most students are familiar with fairy tales, begin by asking them to share the names of various fairy tales that they know. Remind them to think of books, television programs, and movies. As they share titles, list them on the board or on chart paper. Save the sheet for use later in the lesson.

  2. Next, ask your students to brainstorm a list of characteristics that describe these fairy tales. If desired, choose an item or two from the attached list of Common Elements of Fairy Tales to get things started. Again, list the details on the board or on chart paper.

  3. As students make suggestions, encourage any additional information that they volunteer that provides examples. For instance, a student may offer both a characteristic and an example: "There's usually a person like the stepmother in Snow White." Note the examples on the board or chart paper as well.

  4. Show the class the front cover and/or the title page of Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola. Ask students to identify elements that may indicate that the story is a fairy tale, referring to their brainstormed lists for ideas.

  5. Read the first page of the book to the class, and pause to ask students to identify the fairy tale possibilities for the book. Reinforce any ideas that students suggested from the pictures on the cover and title page.

  6. Read the second, third, and fourth pages of the book, stopping after the exchange where Big Anthony agrees never to touch the pasta pot.

  7. Ask students to think about the plot of the fairy tales that they are familiar with and predict what will happen in this story.

  8. Continue reading the story, reading pages five through nine, stopping after Big Anthony thinks "My chance has come!"

  9. Again, ask students to think about the plot of fairy tales and to predict what will happen in this story. Reinforce predictions that students made earlier in the process.

  10. Continue reading the book through page twenty-two, stopping after the mayor urges the townspeople to create a barricade and they learned "that didn't work. The pot kept bubbling and the pasta kept coming!"

  11. Ask students to predict what will happen next in the story, referring to their understanding of fairy tales and predictions that they have already made. Some students may see the connection between this story and Disney's Sorcerer's Apprentice. Welcome these connections as well.

  12. Read the remainder of the book to the class.

  13. Invite students to make observations about the story, their predictions, and the story's fairy tale components.

  14. Return to the list of elements that students brainstormed at the beginning of the the session and check the items off on the list (ideally using another color).

  15. Ask students to share any additional characteristics that they noticed, and add these items to the list. Be sure to check them off as well.

  16. If students have not identified the characteristic, explain that fairy tales often teach readers or listeners a lesson. Identify the lesson from Strega Nona.

  17. If desired, share the definition and background information on fairy tales from Discovering Fairy Tales (from Scholastic). Invite students to comment on the information and make any revisions to their brainstormed list of characteristics based on the information on the Web page.

  18. Based on the information in the story, ask students to identify the geographical regions where Strega Nona likely originated. Encourage students to make direct connections to details in the story that support the regions that they identify (e.g., use of Italian words like strega and nona).

  19. Explain that during the next class period, the class will continue to explore fairy tales, and that in later sessions, students will write their own original fairy tales.

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Session Two

  1. Introduce (or review) the story elements of character, setting, conflict, and resolution, and use the terms to review Strega Nona by identifying the elements for the story.

  2. Emphasize the relationship of the elements of conflict and resolution to the overall plot of the story.

  3. Review the list of characteristics from the previous session. Ask students to share any additional characteristics that they discovered as well as to share any fairy tales to be added to the list of tales.

  4. Show the class the front cover and opening pages of Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella Story by Robert D. San Souci. Ask students to identify elements that may indicate that the story is a fairy tale (beyond the word Cinderella in the title), referring to their brainstormed lists for ideas.

  5. Read the first page of the book to the class and show the accompanying illustration on page two. Ask students to identify fairy tale possibilities for the book. Reinforce any ideas that students suggested from the pictures on the cover and title page.

  6. Read pages three through six, stopping after the description of the young men laughing at Sootface.

  7. Ask students to think again about fairy tale elements and use their knowledge and the brainstormed lists to identify fairy tale elements and predict what will happen in this story.

  8. Continue reading the story, reading pages seven through ten, stopping after the description of various women failing the test and being sent home (before the details on Sootface's sisters).

  9. Again, ask students to think about the plot of fairy tales and to predict what will happen in this story. Reinforce predictions that students made earlier in the process.

  10. Continue reading the book through page fourteen, stopping after the middle sister returns home and scolds Sootface.

  11. Ask students to predict what will happen next in the story, referring to their understanding of fairy tales and predictions that they have already made.

  12. Read the remainder of the book to the class.

  13. Invite students to make observations about the story, their predictions, and the story's fairy tale components.

  14. Return to the list of elements that students brainstormed at the beginning of the the session and check the items off on the list (again, using another color if possible).

  15. Ask students to share any additional characteristics that they noticed, and add these items to the list. Be sure to check them off as well.

  16. Based on the information in the story, identify the ethnic heritage of the story, pointing back to the story's title. Ask students to identify values that the Ojibwa people who told the tale seem to value. Encourage direct connections to specific details in the story.

  17. Have students identify the lesson from Sootface based on their observations.

  18. Demonstrate the Story Map to students by collaborating to complete the information for Sootface that you've read. You can complete the Character Map in the tool for multiple characters from the story (e.g., the heroine, the villain, the hero). Be sure to print the findings so that students can refer to the information in later sessions.

  19. Again, emphasize the relationship of the elements of conflict and resolution to the overall plot of the story.

  20. Divide the students into small groups and give each group another fairy tale picture book to read. Focus on providing tales that come from a range of culture or ethnic backgrounds. An example collection for this section would include the following books, though you can substitute any books you have available:


    • The Dragon Takes a Wife by Walter Dean Myers (1995)

    • The Magic Nesting Doll by Jacqueline K. Ogburn (2000)

    • Spotted Eagle and Black Crow: A Lakota Legend by Emery Bernhard (1993)

    • Thumbelina by Brian Pinkney (2003)

    • Wan Hu Is in the Stars by Jennifer Armstrong (1995)


  21. Ask each group to read the fairy tale they have been given, and explain that they will analyze the tale during the next class session.

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Session Three

  1. Review fairy tale elements and answer any questions that students have.

  2. Briefly remind students how to use the Story Map, and then working in their groups, have students complete the Story Map for the fairy tale.

  3. Remind students to print their analysis and that they can complete the Character Map in the tool for multiple characters from the story (e.g., the heroine, the villain, the hero).

  4. Once every group has completed the Story Map and printed their responses, gather students as a group and invite them to share their findings.

  5. Post the printed maps together, organized by story element. In other words, collect all of the printouts on characters are together, all of the printouts on conflict are together, and so forth. You may create subcategories as desired (e.g., all the "Character Map" printouts on heroes, all the printouts on villains).

  6. Reinforce the connections between the conflict and resolution in the various stories and the plots of the books.

  7. Ask students to identify the cultural and/or ethnic heritage of the stories they have explored, based on the information in the books. Encourage direct connections to specific details in the stories.

  8. Having read tales from a range of cultures, ask students to discuss the fairy tale elements that are common across cultures. Note their observations on the board or chart paper.

  9. Explain that during the next sessions, students will begin writing their own fairy tales.

Optional Additional Sessions

Complete additional group reading and analysis of fairy tales until you are satisfied that your students understand the components of a fairy tale.

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Session Four

  1. Explain the writing project that students will complete: students will choose an event from their own lives or lives of someone they know, and create a fairy tale based on the situation.

  2. Review the collected Story Map printouts, paying particular attention to the conflict and resolution sheets and their connection to the plot of the story.

  3. If desired, review the general plot structure of one of the stories that the class is familiar with by mapping out the story's structure using the Plot Diagram Tool.

  4. Refer to the class's brainstormed lists or pass out copies of the Common Fairy Tale Situations.

  5. Demonstrate how to begin the writing process by choosing an item or two from the attached list of Common Fairy Tale Situations to get things started. Emphasize that students will share their stories with the class, so they should choose a situation that they are willing to talk about in class with all their classmates.

  6. Think aloud about how you might compose a fairy tale based on the items you have chosen. You might take notes on the board or on chart paper, to model how students can begin writing their own tales.

  7. Be sure to sketch out the main characters as well as the conflict and resolution as part of your think-aloud. If desired, use the Story Map, to demonstrate and review the way that the tool is used.

  8. Explain the activities that students will complete during this session, as they begin work on their own fairy tales:


    1. Choose a situation from the list to use in their own original fairy tales.

    2. Decide on the lesson that the fairy tale will teach.

    3. Sketch out the basic events of the plot for the fairy tale, including the conflict(s) and resolution.

    4. Check the planned fairy tale against the list of common fairy tale elements. Revise plans if necessary to include any missing elements.

    5. Use the Story Map as a prewriting activity, in order to gather ideas and think through the story in more detail. Create more than one copy of the Character Map for multiple characters from the story (e.g., the heroine, the villain, the hero).

  9. Answer any questions, and allow students to begin their work on the project during the remaining class time.

  10. As students work, provide feedback and support. Encourage students to share plans and questions with other class members as well.

  11. Remind students to print their Story Map so that they can refer to them as they work on their stories.

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Session Five

  1. If you have not used it previously, demonstrate the Plot Diagram Tool for the class, using your fairy tale that you created in your think-aloud in the previous session. Use the tool to create a basic outline of the events in your story.

  2. Explain the activities that students will complete during this session:


    1. Review their drafts and notes from the previous session.

    2. Using the basic events of the plot decided in the previous session, create a basic outline for the story using the Plot Diagram Tool.

    3. Check your planned fairy tale against the list of common fairy tale elements.

    4. Revise plans if necessary to include any additional elements.

    5. Continue work on their fairy tales by writing and revising.

  3. Ask students to use the rest of the session to continue work on their drafts.

  4. As they work, encourage students to use the fairy tale books available in the classroom as models for their work. As possible, provide texts that will help students with any challenges that they face as they work on their drafts.

  5. Encourage students to check the brainstormed lists of fairy tale elements as well as the printouts from the Story Map as they work. These class resources can provide answers to questions and inspiration for details in the fairy tales that students are writing.

  6. Ask students to have a complete draft ready to share at the beginning of the next class session.

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Session Six

  1. Allow a few minutes for students to make any last minute additions to their drafts. Answer any questions that students have during this time.

  2. Arrange students in pairs or small groups, and pass out copies of the Fairy Tale Peer Review form.

  3. Review the form with the class. Ensure that students can locate the list of fairy tale characteristics in the classroom.

  4. If desired, model how to complete the form with a picture book that students are familiar with.

  5. Depending upon class size and time, ask students to read and review one another's fairy tales. If time is short, students might exchange with only one person. If more time is available, students might complete the Fairy Tale Peer Review form for two other people.

  6. As students work on their peer feedback, circulate among the groups providing feedback and support. As in earlier sessions, provide fairy tale texts that will help students with any challenges that they face as they work on their drafts.

  7. After students finish reading one another's fairy tales, use the peer review feedback of one or more students as an example and discuss how to use the feedback with the class. Alternately, you might move among groups or pairs and provide these examples in smaller groups.

  8. Allow students the rest of the class period to make changes and revisions to their fairy tales. Monitor student progress, and help students move smoothly through the process.

  9. Ask students to have a finished, revised copy of their fairy tales at the beginning of Session Seven. Explain that students will read their stories out loud and the class will discuss the stories together.

Optional Additional Sessions

If students need more time to work on drafts of their fairy tales, allow additional work sessions. Encourage students to use the fairy tale books in the classroom as models and inspiration for their own stories. As time allows, students may read additional stories, searching for help with their plots or later in the revision process, paying attention to the ways that words are used and sentences are constructed.

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Sessions Seven and Eight

  1. Allow a few minutes for students to make any last minute changes to their texts and to get ready to share their fairy tales with the rest of the class.

  2. Have students share their stories one-by-one, reading their texts aloud.

  3. After each story, take a minute to ask students to identify the fairy tale elements included in the story. If desired, you might make tally marks on your class brainstormed list as elements are identified, so that you can discuss the elements that were most popular.

  4. Allow as many class sessions for sharing fairy tales as necessary.

  5. After all the groups have shared their fairy tales, distribute the Reflective Journal Instructions handout, and discuss with students.

  6. Ask students to complete the Reflective Journal Instructions handout and turn in their fairy tales with the handout for you to review and grade.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • Assess students at various stages during this lesson using kidwatching and anecdotal notetaking. You might look for evidence of the following skills:
  • understanding of writing as a process

  • interpersonal skills demonstrated through collaboration

  • comprehension of fairy tale elements by analysis of read tales and application to original tale

  • oral/listening skills demonstrated during group presentations
  • Individual students can be assessed on their entries in their reflective journal, where they write about their participation in this project. (See Reflective Journal Instructions handout.)

  • Use a Fairy Tale Feedback form, a modified version of the peer review form, to provide specific feedback on each fairy tale, if desired. Alternately, simply add supportive comments and any necessary feedback on students’ drafts. Your assessment might focus on how students adapted the fairy tale elements to their own stories, their use of fairy tale characteristics, the structures that they created for their stories (especially their use of conflict and resolution), and their use of model fairy tales that were shared with the class.

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