One of the “hidden gems” within the Lit2Go free audiobook website is the Folk & Fairy Tale collection. Here you will find the text and audio files for well over 300 tales. Some teachers may skip over that collection entirely, thinking that it’s primarily something for an early grades listening center, but here is just a sampling of the wide-ranging student objectives from the linked lesson plans.
- Analyze the fairy tales for common elements and genre characteristics.
- Learn about story structure and demonstrate comprehension of it by identifying beginnings, middles, and endings in familiar stories.
- Learn how to sequence a story through the use of a storyboard.
- Use graphic organizer to develop characters, settings, conflict, and resolution for their fairy tales.
- Read cross-cultural folk tales and depict them visually.
- Gain a better understanding about another country.
- Work in collaborative groups to post story information onto a multi-story character study matrix.
- Describe key information of a text from a prescribed viewpoint.
- Work in collaborative groups to summarize plot points and character traits.
- Compose alternative viewpoints of a selected text.
- Compose an original fairy tale, based on personal experiences.
The reading level of the passages ranges up through grade 8.
I’ve included links to the excellent ReadWriteThink website for examples of using folk and fairy tales with elementary and middle school students. Many of the linked lesson plans refer to specific tales, but can be adapted for use with a range of tales from the Lit2Go collection. The majority of linked plans also assume the students will be accessing text versions of the tales rather than audiobook versions. For some activities, using audio files rather than text files is an easy substitution. You may also want to consider using the text files from Lit2Go when implementing the linked plans, but also make the audio files available to struggling readers, English language learners, visually-impaired students, or others who need additional support.
Since Lit2Go includes hundreds of folk and fairy tales, it’s easy to use the collection for activities in which you want each student or group of students to engage with a different tale and then share out with the class or make comparisons. The Lit2Go website itself offers related activity ideas and PDFs for many of the items. I hope that bringing together the Lit2Go collection and the ReadWriteThink plans will jumpstart many ideas for using folk and fairy tales in elementary and middle school classes.
Lesson Plans from ReadWriteThink
Teaching About Story Structure Using Fairy Tales by Deborah Kozdras, Ph.D.
Grades K-2: Stories and poems that have a familiar structure can create a supportive context for learning about the writing process, building students’ background knowledge, and scaffolding their creation of original stories. In this lesson for students in second or late first grade, teachers help students explore the concepts of beginning, middle, and ending by reading a variety of stories and charting the events on storyboards. As they retell the stories, students are encouraged to make use of sequencing words (first, so, then, next, after that, finally). A read-aloud of Once Upon a Golden Apple by Jean Little and Maggie De Vries introduces a discussion of the choices made by an author in constructing a plot. Starting with prewriting questions and a storyboard, students construct original stories, progressing from shared writing to guided writing; independent writing is also encouraged.
Pourquoi Stories: Creating Tales to Tell Why by Elizabeth Nolan Conners
Grades 3-5: Read-alouds of The Story of Lightning and Thunder (a Nigerian tale) and The Story of the Milky Way: A Cherokee Tale introduce the concept of a pourquoi tale, a folk tale that explains how or why something came to exist. Background information on the Nigerian and Cherokee cultures (assembled by the teacher from the listed websites) sets the stage for discussion of how beliefs and customs might influence the narrative and the moral of a story. The class works together to outline the key elements of pourquoi stories, and students read and analyze an additional story using the Pourquoi Reading Worksheet.
Exploring World Cultures Through Folk Tales by Sarah Dennis-Shaw
Grades 3-5: Students journey beyond the borders of their everyday environment in this exploration of world cultures. In this lesson, small groups of students are assigned one of three folk tales from African, Japanese, or Welsh cultures. Students read the tale aloud together and use a story sequence graphic organizer to record the most important events from the story. After reading the story, students create a visual representation of the story in the form of a collage, comic book, or some other creative method. Students then conduct online research to find information about their assigned culture. In a culminating activity, students retell their folk tale using the visual representation and then summarize the research they compiled. Students give one another feedback on their oral presentations
Fairy Tales from Life by Patricia Schulze
Grades 3-5: Students begin by making a list of fairy tales they know, and then brainstorming characteristics that describe those fairy tales. They then use their knowledge of fairy tales to make predictions during a read-aloud of a fairy tale picture book. Next, students work together in small groups to read, discuss, and analyze fairy tales. After compiling a list of common elements, students collaborate on their own original fairy tales—each student decides what kind of experience to write about, composes and revises a fairy tale, and finally presents their story to the rest of the class. The lesson follows a process method that includes peer review and encourages using picture books as models and concludes with individual reflection on the group project and fairy tales.
Fairy Tales and You by Lisa Storm Fink
Grades 3-5: Children will draw on their knowledge of story structure and fairy tales to write their own. Events from their own lives become the basis for personalized fairy tales that can be published, read aloud, or performed for others.
American Folklore: A Jigsaw Character Study by Renee Goularte
Grades 3-6: Collaborative groups will read a variety of American tall tales, then report elements of their story to the whole class. Students add story information to a collaborative, whole-class character study matrix that summarizes all the stories. In a writing activity, students compare two characters of their choice. Support for English Language Learners (ELLs) is embedded in the guided collaborative process, while the content of the stories adds to all students’ knowledge of American culture and history. The stories used in the lesson include well known and lesser-known diverse characters. The lesson process is applicable to any set of related texts.
Explore Point of View in Fairy Tales by International Literacy Association
Grades 5-8: When children read a familiar story told from a different point of view and then use what they have read to help them write their own version, they think critically about what the different parts of a story are and how changing these parts changes what the reader gets out of the story. Fairy tales are perfect for this activity because they are so well known; new versions of fairy tales are often called fractured fairy tales.
Fairy Tale Autobiographies by Patricia Schultze
Grades 5-9: Students work together in small groups to read, discuss, and analyze fairy tales. After compiling a list of common elements, students collaborate on their own original fairy tales—based on events from their own lives or the lives of someone they know. Each student decides what kind of experience to write about, composes and revises a fairy tale, and then presents their story to the rest of the class. The lesson follows a process method that includes peer review and encourages using picture books from a variety of cultural backgrounds as models. Students share their stories with the class, and the project concludes with individual reflection on the group project and fairy tales.
The Big Bad Wolf: Analyzing Point of View in Texts by Laurie A. Henry, Ph.D.
Grades 6-8: Many students read without questioning a text or analyzing the author’s viewpoint. This lesson encourages sixth- through eighth-grade students to question what they are reading by providing them with the language and skills needed to analyze a text. Students learn to look at the author’s purpose, examine multiple viewpoints, and also recognize gaps in the text. By reading two versions of the same tale and completing an interactive Venn diagram, students recognize that there are not only different versions of a story, but also different viewpoints to consider when reading. Extension activities include debating a fairy tale using different character viewpoints.
Tales from FCIT’s Lit2Go Website
I’ve added the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Score of each collected work in parenthesis. Keep in mind, of course, that the grade level score is a measure of readability and that each work is available as both text and as an audio file for listening.
The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (7.6)
The Brown Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (6.6)
Buttercup Gold and Other Stories by Ellen Robena Field (5.7)
The Crimson Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (6.8)
Fairy Tales and Other Traditional Stories by FCIT (4.6 average, but this collection varies greatly from passage to passage)
The Grey Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (4.0)
Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Grimm Brothers (6.3)
Japanese Fairy Tales by Yei Theodora Ozaki (7.4)
The King of the Golden River by John Ruskin (6.8)
The Light Princess by George MacDonald (5.4)
More Jataka Tales by Ellen C. Babbitt (3.9)
The Olive Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (3.4)
The Pink Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (4.0)
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen (5.5)
Stories from Around the World by FCIT (5.7, but this collection varies greatly from passage to passage)
The Yellow Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (6.8)
And, although not “traditional” tales, the origin stories in Kipling’s Just So Stories can be used for many of the same sorts of student activities. (6.1)
Supporting PDFs from ReadWriteThink
Activity PDFs on the Lit2Go Website
Most of the 300+ folks and fairy tales on the Lit2Go website also include an activity PDF. Just click the “Student Activity” button on each passage page to download the free PDF. See example below. Also note that the entire passage is also available for download and printing if desired. Just click the “Passage PDF” button to the left of the Student Activity button.
(Click image to enlarge.)
Roy Winkelman is a 40+ year veteran teacher of students from every level kindergarten through graduate school. As the former Director of FCIT, he began the Center's focus on providing students with rich content collections from which to build their understanding. When not glued to his keyboard, Dr. Winkelman can usually be found puttering around his tomato garden in Pittsburgh. Questions about this post or suggestions for a future topic? Email me at Roy@FCIT.US. To ensure that your email is not blocked, please do not change the subject line. Thank you!
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