Home School Years

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Fairy Tales: A Comparison

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Series: Stories

This is the second in a four-part series discussing different forms of storytelling:

Part 1: Folklore

Part 2: Fairy Tales: A Comparison

Part 3: Fairy Tales & Nature

Part 4: Fables and Parables

Target Vocabulary: castle, character, compare, conflict, contrast, enchanted, fairy tale, fantasy, fiction, forest, happily ever after, hero, imagination, king, kingdom, knight, magical, make-believe, once upon a time, prince/princess, queen, setting, spell, story, traits, villain, wicked

Lesson Themes:

Key Elements of a Fairy Tale:

  • They are made up stories (fiction)
  • Generally begin with phrases like “Once upon a time….” or “Long ago…” to reflect that they are old stories that have been told/passed down through the ages or are stories set in a far and distant past
  • Generally have an element of magic in the storyline
  • Common characters include princes, princesses, kings, queens, speaking animals and magical or mythical creatures
  • Usually have a hero (male) or heroine (female)
  • Usually have good characters and bad characters
  • Usually have a happy ending or end with “…live happily ever after.”

Fiction vs. Non-Fiction ~ Explain that fairy tales are fantasy/make-believe stories, which makes them fiction. Discuss a common fairy tale theme (such as castles) to distinguish between fiction and non-fiction. For instance, a book about Cinderella (fiction) and a book about historical castles (non-fiction). Discuss ways in which both types of castles are similar and different to show how a theme can be represented in both ~ fiction and non-fiction.

Comparing Different Versions of the Same Story ~ Comparing two opposing versions of a story allows children to compare different points of view. The best approach is to use a traditional version of a fairy tale and compare it to a different or non-traditional version. Read the traditional version first. Then ask some questions to assess their understanding of key storytelling terms and structure. Then read the different/non-traditional version of the story to compare the two. Discuss similarities and differences between the two. Ask which version they liked best.

  • Who were the characters of the story?
  • Was there a hero character? What makes them the hero?
  • Was there villain character? What makes them the villain?
  • Describe the setting.
  • Discuss the beginning, middle and end of the story to show sequence.

Fairy Tale Comparisons

These are Fairy Tale comparisons we’ve enjoyed to date:

  • Traditional: The Three Little Pigs
  • Non-Traditional: The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka (the wolf’s point of view)
  • Non-Traditional: The Three Little Hawaiian Pigs and the Magic Shark by Donivee Martin Laird
  • Non-Traditional: The Three Little Tamales by Eric A. Kimmel
  • Traditional: Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • Non-Traditional: Somebody and the Three Blairs by Marilyn Tolhurst
  • Traditional: Cinderella
  • Non-Traditional: Cinderella’s Rat by Susan Meddaugh
  • Non-Traditional: Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella by Susan Lowell
  • Non-Traditional: Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella by Robert D. San Souci
  • Non-Traditional: Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella Story by Robert. D. San Souci
  • Traditional: Little Red Riding Hood
  • Non-Traditional: Little Red Hot by Eric A. Kimmel
  • Non-Traditional: Lon Po Po (Red Riding Hood story from China) by Ed Young
  • Traditional: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Non-Traditional: Snow White by Melinda Copper (animal-themed with exceptional illustrations)
  • Non-Traditional: Seriously, Snow White Was So Forgetful! by Nancy Loewen (dwarves’ point of view)
  • Traditional: The Ugly Duckling

Fairy Tales Around The World ~ Many different countries share similar fairy tales. For this lesson, present different versions of popular fairy tales as they are known in different countries. For instance, Lon Po Po (A Red Riding Hood story from China) or one of the many versions of Cinderella (an Irish Cinderella, a Middle Eastern Cinderella, a story of Cinderella from Greece, etc.) This is a great way to blend geography, history and storytelling.

Other Fairy Tale Comparison Themes:

  • Little Theme: Little Red Riding Hood, Little Mermaid, Three Little Pigs
  • Color Theme: Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood
  • Number Theme: Three Little Pigs, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Goldilocks & the Three Bears
  • Mother Theme: Cinderella’s evil stepmother and fairy Godmother
  • Beauty Theme: Sleeping Beauty, Ugly Duckling

Hidden Forest Series ~ Author Alma Flor Ada has a three book series about various story book characters all living in Hidden Forest that works well with a comparative lesson. The series features interactions between the characters, as well as letters and invitations exchanged among them. It’s a great series to offer a different perspective on the lives of these well-known characters: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, Peter Rabbit and Little Red Hen. The series titles in order: 1) Dear Peter Rabbit, 2) Yours Truly, Goldilocks and 3) With Love, Little Red Hen. We really enjoyed it!

Related Activities:

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2 comments on “Fairy Tales: A Comparison

  1. forhisgloryandpraise
    August 12, 2012

    Congratulations! I just nominated you for the Imaginative Youth Blogging Award! Check it out… http://forhisgloryandpraise.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/now-for-a-few-awards-i-designed/

    • Sofia
      August 12, 2012

      Thanks so much Bonita! I truly enjoy home schooling my son and I’m glad to know what I share through my blog is of benefit to other parents/teachers. I really appreciate your support! 🙂

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