Fairy Tales Aplenty

Last month Mrs. Hanczar, the music teacher, taught the children a song and dance about Thorn Rosa.  This version of Sleeping Beauty has been a topic for play since. The class was already enamored with fairies and royalty, so this new tale spun them off into happily-ever-after.  Taking their lead, I’ve been collecting traditional and re-written fairy tales for us to read and compare.  We began our study by listing all of the people, places, things we could think of that can be found in fairy tales.

Fairy Tales

Setting Characters Props Where We Find Them
Castles Witch Wands In Books
Land Knight Crowns In Stories
Sky Queen Umbrellas In Plays
Woods Princess In Movies
In Magical Lands Prince
Rain Fairy
A retelling mat for "The Princess and the Pea"


Our first in-depth study was of “The Princess and the Pea“.  Numerous readings showed us that sometimes stories can be told in different ways.  For instance, in some versions there were 20 mattresses stacked on the Princess’ bed and in others there were 100.  Our retelling included only 6 since that was the space limit for our paper creations.

The bed frames were crafted out of sticks we collected on the playground.  As a class, the children decided how we could create a frame.  Each child then took those ideas and adapted them to fit their designs.  Although I, of course, imagined that the beds would look like a traditional side view of a bed, they had other plans.  Many of the designs feature a large rectangle surrounding the paper.  Think of this as a view from the top of the bed.  Others boast complicated designs with ladders and stairs that I can only assume are inspired by bunk beds or the need to climb up all of those mattresses.

During our discussion of characters, the class decided that there should be four actors in our story: The Queen, The King, The Prince, and The Princess.  We drew these with permanent marker on watercolor paper and then painted in the color details.  We taped a piece of embroidery floss on the back of each and then taped it to the back of the picture so we wouldn’t lose our puppets.

Retelling stories helps us understand more about how stories are crafted.  As we remember the tale and share it with others, we explore setting, characters, plot, and voice.  The more we know about how stories are constructed, the easier it is to make up and write our own.  This activity also helps us with comprehension as we grow older and read stories independently.  We become used to the conventions of a story and can identify when we’ve misread a word that sets the tale in a spin.  Retelling also gives us confidence as owners of knowledge.  Each child is assured that they are the experts with this tale and can share it with others.

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