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 & Nature

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Series: Stories

This is the third 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

This is designed as an exploratory lesson to connect fairy tales (not real) with nature (real). The first part will explore how nature is portrayed in fairy tales, and the second part will explore the fairy tale world within nature.

mushroom-in-grassNatural Elements/Themes Commonly Used In Fairy Tales:

  • Rainbows ~ generally depicted as either leading to a magical place (a sort of road or bridge to a magical land) or said to mark the spot where one can find a pot of gold.
  • Forests ~ generally depicted as enchanted or hidden/secret.
  • Mushrooms ~ generally depicted as places of cover for fairies, pixies or elves.
  • Full Moon ~ generally represent occasions when supernatural or magical things happen that can have a negative effect or cause danger to humans. An associated theme is the wolf’s howl, which is depicted as symbolizing the werewolf during a full moon.
  • Animals ~ fairy tales traditionally depict animals as having human qualities and personalities, including the ability to speak and perform human tasks, such as wearing clothes, driving, cooking, maintaining a home, going to school, etc. In addition, certain animals have developed specific stereotypes due to the manner in which they have been portrayed in fairy tales, such as the bad wolf, sly/scheming fox, mischievous monkey or frog prince.
  • Vegetation ~ vegetation seems to take on magical characteristics such as Jack’s beanstalk or Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage.

Part One:

  1. Read a few fairy tales (select ones that include the natural elements/themes noted above to make the connection)
  2. After each one, ask the child to identify the natural elements/themes in the story
  3. Is there a pattern or common theme?
  4. Ask the child what other natural element/theme would they use if writing a fairy tale

I remember I used to half believe and wholly play with fairies when I was a child. What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood, tempered and balanced by knowledge and common-sense.

~ Beatrix Potter, The Complete Tales

Part Two:

Let the child know they are going on a nature walk to explore the fairy world within nature. If they have a magnifying glass, have them bring it. Discuss the purpose of the activity by encouraging them to look for natural elements that are small and near the ground that can be used by fairies, pixies or elves.

For instance:

  • Mushrooms for cover
  • Smooth, flat rocks that can be used as beds or tables
  • Leaves that can be used as blankets or beds
  • Sticks or bark that can be used to build furniture or shelter
  • Holes that can suggest an entrance to their home
  • Flowers that can be used for perfume or as clothing
  • Dust or powder that can be used as fairy dust
  • Wildflower petals or small butterflies that can be used as wings
  • Berries or seeds for food
  • Puddles of water that can be used as a pool or bath
  • Moss that can be used as rugs or cushion
  • Vines that can be used as clothing accessories
  • Mist or fog within the area
  • Colorful, crystal-like rocks

Magical Locations:

Two examples of fairy-like magical locations are the Fairy Pools in the Isle of Skye (Scotland) and the Spellbound Forest in Turkey.

fairy's shoe at YehLiu

The Fairy’s Shoe at YehLiu

Legend of the Fairy’s Shoe:

In the north coast of Taiwan there is a geological park named YehLiu with a vast and magical landscape featuring amazing formations and natural wonders. One of these is the Fairy’s Shoe, a giant shoe-shaped rock formation on Ginger Rock. According to legend, the shoe was accidentally left behind by a fairy who came down from Heaven to tame the naughty turtle elf.


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