Fairy tales provide the perfect theme for a complete ELA unit. Sure, you can read and compare them. But you can also pull in informational text, figurative language, poetry, and drama.
Ms. Sneed Plans a Fairy Tales Unit
Our favorite fourth grade teacher, Ms. Sneed, sat at her computer and stared at the literature standard:
Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.
Comparing Fairy Tales
The comparing fairy tales resource asked kids to read four stories from around the world:
- “Cinderella, or the Glass Slipper” (France)
- “The Fisherman and the Genie” (Middle East)
- “Ye Xian” (China)
- “The Talking Eggs” (Louisiana)
After summarizing them with story arcs, students found common elements. Then they compared and contrasted the stories. Perfect!
Complete Fairy Tale Lesson Plans
As she clicked around a little more, Ms. Sneed noticed that the teacher-author had also posted a set of free fairy tale lesson plans. So she downloaded them to take a closer look.
Hmm. In addition to analyzing folktales, kids would learn about nonfiction paragraph structure, figurative language, poetry, and plays.
Ms. Sneed decided to take a closer look.
Analyzing Informational Text About Fairy Tale Authors
To learn about nonfiction paragraph structure, kids watched a slideshow. It used a hamburger analogy to explain the topic, detail, and concluding sentences. Then they practiced with paragraphs about famous European fairy tale authors. As a culmination, all the paragraphs were viewed together as a five-paragraph essay. That way, students could see that longer pieces used a similar (hamburger) structure. Wow. Such great scaffolding!
Exploring Figurative Language
The figurative language component taught kids about similes and metaphors. After viewing two slideshows, they practiced with fairy tale themed worksheets. Finally, they read a specially-adapted version of “The Frog Prince” and identified figurative language in it.
Writing Poetry About Fairy Tales
In the poetry strand, kids explored limericks. After learning how to write a limerick, they wrote about one fairy tale character. Hey! What a clever take on character analysis! Ms. Sneed smiled as she thought about the critical thinking her kids would need to use for this activity.
Writing Fairy Tales Plays
In the drama resource, kids explored another form of literature: plays. First, they learned about structural elements. Then they converted fairy tales to plays of their own. If desired, they could act them out.
“My students would love to perform their own plays,” Ms. Sneed said to herself. As she thought about it, visions of sock puppet theater popped into her head. Yes, definitely some opportunities for classroom fun!
Ms. Sneed pulled out her plan book and got to work. Maybe she wouldn’t use all parts of the fairy tale unit this year. But this set of lesson plans gave her plenty of options for years to come.