Standard Lesson

Cowboys and Castles: Interacting With Fractured Texas Tales

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five 45-minute sessions
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Interacting with and responding to texts is an important foundation to build in the primary grades and is a great way to encourage the language development of English-language learners (ELLs). Invite students to explore five different ways to respond to text as they listen to two traditional fairy tales and their Wild West versions. Students engage with the text by talking back to characters in Cinderella, dramatizing events in Bubba the Cowboy Prince, inserting themselves into the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and critiquing and controlling story elements in Little Red Cowboy Hat. After comparing and contrasting Little Red Riding Hood and Little Red Cowboy Hat, students plan and create an original fractured tale.

From Theory to Practice

  • Engagement in storybook read-alouds should not be limited to the traditional "narrative elements" (i.e., plot, setting, characters, or theme). Rather, they need to include expressive and performative engagements as well.

  • The five types of expressive and performative engagements are dramatizing, talking back, critiquing/controlling, inserting, and taking over.

  • These literary responses encourage children to view stories as invitations to participate or perform, making reading deeply pleasurable for them.

  • Teachers can encourage these responses within the classroom, creating an atmosphere of literary engagement and enjoyment.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 10. Students whose first language is not English make use of their first language to develop competency in the English language arts and to develop understanding of content across the curriculum.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Cinderella (any traditional version)

  • Bubba the Cowboy Prince by Helen Ketteman (Scholastic, 1992)

  • Little Red Riding Hood (any traditional version)

  • Little Red Cowboy Hat by Susan Lowell (Henry Holt, 1997)

  • A computer with Internet access and either a large-screen monitor or an LCD projector

  • A document camera or transparencies and an overhead projector

  • Large sticky notes




1. Be sure you are comfortable and familiar with the five categories of expressive engagement. "Talking Back and Taking Over: Young Children's Expressive Engagement During Storybook Read-alouds" by Lawrence R. Sipe provides an explanation of each response category and examples of how the engagements can be used in the classroom. The Expressive Engagements Reference Sheet and Examples also provides a summary of each response category for quick reference.

2. Become thoroughly familiar with the books you will read aloud. In this lesson, the traditional versions of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood are paired with Bubba the Cowboy Prince by Helen Ketteman and Little Red Cowboy Hat by Susan Lowell. To find the traditional texts as well as other versions see:
3. Make copies of some of the illustrations from the traditional version of Cinderella you select to read aloud. Choose illustrations that show action or an exciting event occurring. A good illustration to use might be when the stepsisters laugh at Cinderella for wanting to go the ball or when the Prince is searching for the person whose foot fits the glass slipper. Make several copies of each illustration you choose for each student.

4. Choose five or six illustrations from the traditional version of Little Red Riding Hood you select and make a transparency of each. Choose illustrations in the story that show a character at a point of decision, about to enter into a dangerous situation, or needing help. A good illustration might be when Little Red Riding Hood is talking to her grandmother and she doesn't yet realize that it is really the wolf. If you have a document camera, you can simply select the illustrations you would like to use in Session 3 and project them directly from the book.

5. Print and make copies of the Retelling Picture Handout and the Note for Home for each student.

6. Bookmark and familiarize yourself with the online Fractured Fairy Tales interactive tool. If you do not have a classroom computer with Internet access, reserve a 45-minute session in your school's lab for Session 5. If possible, you will want to use an LCD projector or a large-screen monitor during this session.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Practice analysis by listening to different versions of the same story and reacting to, comparing, and interacting with them

  • Develop reading comprehension skills, literary appreciation, and enthusiasm for reading by engaging in expressive and performative reading responses, which include dramatizing, talking back, critiquing/controlling, inserting, and taking over

  • Practice writing their responses to a story by recording what they would say to characters in books they have heard read aloud

  • Explore story conventions such as beginning, middle, and end; character development; setting; and plot by using an online tool to record their changes to a familiar story

Session 1 Talking Back

The following lesson activities can be divided over five 45-minute sessions. Depending on the characteristics of your classroom and the abilities of your students, the instructional time may need to be adjusted.

1. Gather students in a comfortable area and briefly introduce the traditional version of Cinderella. Ask students to make predictions about the text and share their experiences related to the book, honoring and validating all responses.

2. Read aloud Cinderella, allowing students to chime in when reading familiar passages. Stop at certain points and give students the opportunity to respond to and think about the text. Ask students to "talk back" to the book, encouraging them to voice their opinions, tell the characters what to do or what not to do, and provide advice to characters who are facing a problem. Throughout the reading, model this talking back technique, offering your own opinions and comments when appropriate.

3. Choose an illustration from the book and talk back to one of the characters. For example, if you choose the illustration where the stepsisters boss Cinderella around, you might "talk back" to Cinderella by saying, "Don't worry, Cinderella, it's going to turn out okay. Just wait. A fairy godmother will come and help you out so that you can go to the ball."

4. Allow students to choose an illustration from the copies you made (see Preparation, Step 3), and give them each a large sticky note for their writing. Instruct them to talk back to the character or characters in the picture and to write what they would say on the sticky note. Younger students may need to dictate their ideas to you. When working with ELLs, take time to discuss the illustration with them. Name objects in the illustration and converse about what is happening. It may even be helpful to pair ELLs with students who have chosen the same illustrations so that they can talk about them while adding their sticky notes.

5. After all the students have had an opportunity to "talk back" to at least one illustration, bring students together to share. Collect the illustrations with the students' writing and bind them together into a class book. You may want to glue or tape the sticky notes to the pages before binding.

Session 2 Dramatizing

1. Introduce Bubba the Cowboy Prince by Helen Ketteman. Explain that this author has taken a new spin on the traditional Cinderella. Show students the cover of Bubba the Cowboy Prince and ask them to predict what might happen in this version and how it might be different than the traditional Cinderella read in the previous session. Questions for discussion include:
  • Where do you think Bubba the Cowboy Prince takes place?

  • Who do you think Bubba is and what part will he play in this Cinderella tale?

  • What do you think the wicked characters will be like?

  • Who do you think saves Bubba?

  • Do you think there will be a fairy godmother in this story?
2. Before reading Bubba the Cowboy Prince, tell students that you are going to stop at certain points while you are reading to have them act out what is going on. When they act out events students may talk, use their body, or move around the room to show the event. Dramatizing is especially helpful for ELLs because it allows them to use conversational language in a real setting and to experiment with facial expressions, gestures, intonation, and body language.

3. Read aloud Bubba the Cowboy Prince. Stop at various points and ask students to dramatize what just happened in the story. For example, have students act out Bubba running out of the ball when the clock strikes midnight. Let students decide how the acting will go, asking for volunteers to play the parts. Prompt them by asking questions such as, "What do you think the wicked stepbrothers are doing?" "Who else is in this scene?" "What are they doing?" As soon as the class has negotiated roles and determined what is happening, encourage them to act it out.

When students are finished, continue reading the story. You will want to stop only two or three times to make sure students don't lose track of what is happening.

4. After reading the story, ask students to retell their favorite parts. When they share a favorite part, encourage the student to act it out with classmates. Ask questions such as, "What characters are in this part of the story?" "What is going on?" "What should your body be doing?" "What will your character say?"

5. Once students have had a chance to dramatize their favorite parts of the story, show them the Retelling Pictures Handout. Explain that these pictures can help them remember important parts of the story. Model how you use the pictures to help you retell and dramatize the story. You might say something like, "This first picture shows Bubba working hard. This happened at the beginning of the story. Bubba's wicked stepbrothers were bossing him around. [Stand up and pretend to be a wicked stepbrother.] 'Bubba, brush my horse. Bubba, fetch my bolo tie. Bubba, you sure do stink. Your shirt is all dirty and muddy. No one wants to be around you. Work, work, work.'"

6. Give students time to cut out the pictures on the handout. Then pair up students to use the pictures to retell and dramatize parts of the story. Activities that involve conversation and talk are helpful for ELLs. Make sure that your ELLs are paired with proficient English speakers who can provide models during the retelling.


Note: Repeated readings of stories are also helpful to ELL students. As a modification to this activity, you may want your ELL students to listen to the story again on tape before they try retelling the story.

Homework: Send the cut-out Retelling Pictures home in a sandwich bag along with the Note for Home. Students should retell the story to an adult at home. You can also keep a set of Retelling Pictures in the classroom for students to use throughout the year.

Session 3 Inserting and Taking Over

1. Read the traditional version of Little Red Riding Hood. During reading encourage students to make personal connections to the text. For example, when Little Red Riding Hood's mother tells her not to talk to strangers, ask your students to share warnings their parents have given them. Allowing students opportunities to make personal connections while reading fits with the expressive engagement called taking over.

2. Along with making personal connections, allow students opportunities to take over by challenging them to play with the language of the story. Ask students to suggest alternative words or phrases and provide explanations for why these alternatives could be used. Begin to play with the language of the text and engage students in word play.

3. Following the reading, ask students to imagine themselves inside the story. Model this engagement for them. For example, say, "I thought it would be fun to walk in the forest, so I walked with Little Red Riding Hood and helped her pick flowers for her grandma!" or "I walked right up to that mean wolf and told him to play nice!" Encourage students to share what they would do if they or their friends or family were in the story. This response is characteristic of the expressive engagement called inserting.

4. Explore the idea of inserting further. Project one of the illustrations onto a screen or wall and let students take turns "stepping into" the illustration to insert themselves into the story. Ask them to pretend that they are in the story and share what they would do or say to the characters. This activity involves some risk for your students and may be hard for ELLs. You can modify the activity by having pairs of students insert themselves into the projection or by making copies of the illustrations as you did in the previous session and having students draw themselves in the illustrations, writing a short sentence or speech bubble showing what they would say or do.


Note: During this activity students may use some of the other engagements practiced in previous sessions. Students might talk back to the characters in the illustration, take over the story by changing what is happening in the illustration, or participate in the action by dramatizing. Accept and encourage all of these responses.

Session 4 Critiquing/Controlling

1. Begin the session by asking your students to retell Little Red Riding Hood. Ask them to think about what they would do if they were Little Red Riding Hood or the wolf in the story. What would they do and say? What wouldn't they do and say? Why? Encourage them to share how they would change the story. This is an example of critiquing/controlling the text.

2. Explain how authors have rewritten the story of Little Red Riding Hood based on what they would do or what they think the characters should have done. Remind students of Bubba the Cowboy Prince and how that was another version of Cinderella.

3. Read aloud Little Red Cowboy Hat by Susan Lowell and have your students respond to the following questions:
  • Do you like this version of the story? Why or why not? Which version do you like better?

  • Why do you think the author wrote the story this way?

  • How would you have written it?
Other reading responses, such as talking back and dramatizing, would work here as well.

Session 5 Creating a Fractured Fairy Tale

1. Begin this session by displaying a chart divided into two columns. Label the first column Little Red Riding Hood and the second column Little Red Cowboy Hat. For each story chart out the:
    1. Main characters

    2. Setting (place and time)

    3. Point of view

    4. Problem

    5. Solution and how the story ends

2. After charting these story components, lead students to verbally compare and contrast the two stories by examining the changes that Susan Lowell, the author of Little Red Cowboy Hat, made to the traditional version of Little Red Riding Hood. Comparing the two stories is an additional way to practice critiquing/controlling the text.

3. Tell students that they are going to make their own changes to Little Red Riding Hood using an online tool. Introduce your class to the online Fractured Fairy Tales interactive tool using a projector or large-screen monitor.

4. Work as a class to decide on the main characters, setting, point of view, the problem and solution for your version of Little Red Riding Hood. Negotiating the changes as a class should include lots of conversation, discussion, storytelling, and possibly dramatization. As your class is making changes, encourage them to tell the story and share what they think should happen.

For example, if students want to change the main character from Little Red Riding Hood to Giant Purple Football Helmet, discuss what this character would look like. Is it a boy or a girl? Who would be the mean or sneaky character? If this character is wearing a football helmet, where would he or she be? Who could possibly cause problems for the character (a mean coach, an opposing team, a clever mascot)? Continue with these discussions while making the rest of the story changes.

Note: Depending on your class and their ability to work independently, this activity could be modified by having students work in pairs or in small groups in a computer lab setting to make their changes. If you have students work in this way, show students how to navigate the Fractured Fairy Tales tool first.

5. Once your class has come to a consensus for their fractured tale, print out the changes. Tell students that you would like them to draw a picture illustrating the fractured Little Red Riding Hood that they just helped you to create. Tell students that their illustration needs to include three of the changes that your class decided on. As students are working on their illustration, conference with them to add a couple of sentences describing what is happening in their picture. Have younger students dictate their story to you while you write.

When conferencing with ELLs, discuss their illustration and help them to label the different objects in their picture. For example, let's say your class came up with a fractured version called Little Red Skateboard. Your ELL student in response draws a skateboard in the picture. Discuss the features of a skateboard (wheels) and how the skateboard moves (fast, quickly, speeding). Talking through their illustration is a way to build on vocabulary they know and add new vocabulary in a concrete way.

6. When you see that most or all of your students are finished, gather them together to share their illustrations. It will be interesting to see how each student imagined and represented the characters, setting, and events. Collect the illustrations and bind them together in a class book.


  • Write a fractured version of Little Red Riding Hood using the variations you created with the online Fractured Fairy Tales interactive tool or put the changes in a learning center and allow students to write their own fractured fairy tales.

  • Incorporate the five expressive and performative engagements used in this lesson into any read-aloud. See the Expressive Engagements Reference Sheet and Examples for some suggestions.

Student Assessment / Reflections


  • Observe and take anecdotal notes during class discussion. Look for student participation in each expressive engagement (talking back, taking over, inserting, dramatizing, critiquing/controlling).

  • Evaluate students’ written responses to Cinderella. Were students able to talk back to a character or did they retell or state events? Did students use conversational language or storybook language? Did students’ statements to the characters make sense with what was going on in the illustration? Do the students’ statements show their understanding of the story and what is happening? You can also use this response as a writing sample looking for things such as sound-to-letter representation, letter formation, and punctuation.

  • Observe students retelling Bubba the Cowboy Prince with the Retelling Picture Handout. Look to see if they are able to demonstrate knowledge of story elements (e.g., character, setting, problem, solution), use of appropriate expressions and props, and enthusiasm during the retelling.

  • Use the Fractured Fairy Tale Rubric to assess students’ participation and illustration of the fractured version of Little Red Riding Hood that the class creates.


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