Teaching Fairy Tales Activities for Kids | An ELA Unit

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.
Hmm. Fairy tales would fit the bill.
She clicked over to TpT, and soon she had found what she was looking for.

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!

Kids read four fairy tales from different cultures. Then they identify common elements.

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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.

Grab this set of fairy tale lesson plans for free! They give you two full weeks of balanced ELA instruction.

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!

Kids learn about the structure of nonfiction paragraphs (topic sentence, detail sentences, conclusion). Then they identify these structures in paragraphs about fairy tale authors.
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.

Third and fourth grade kids learn about similes and metaphors with fairy tale themed slideshows. After practicing, they identify figurative language in "The Frog Prince."

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.

Teach kids about limericks. Then ask them to write limericks about fairy tale characters. It's a creative way to teach character analysis - and foster critical thinking!
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!

Teach kids the structures of drama - then let them convert fairy tales to plays.

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.

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