Fairy tales continued

May 21, 2011 § 2 Comments

First of all, I love fairy tales, I’ve always loved them and started to collect fairy tale books when I was in my teens. So for me it is absolutely natural to integrate them into my teaching, There are a lot of reasons why to use them when teaching young learners, some you might find in the book: ‘The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales’ which was written by Bruno Bettelheim and in which he analyses fairy tales. Even though he was a follower of Freud (and I’m not a Freudian myself) I found some very good insight in the book. It was actually one of my compulsory readings when I studied children’s literature 25 years ago.

But I like to take things a bit further, so when I came across Jon Scieszka’s book ‘The Frog Prince Continued’ ( http://sjkessel.blogspot.com/2010/01/review-frog-prince-continued.html) in the early 90ies, I fell in love with the book and the idea behind it. So years later when I started to work as teacher I went back to his idea and created a lesson plan for using fairy tales with teens.  Teens – out of all age groups! Okay, I was a bit sceptical myself but I wanted to give it a try and it worked surprisingly well, actually in the end it turned into a short project (Sorry, can’t show the result of the project as that was before ‘my digital age’)

So this is the idea. As lead in I ask them if they know any fairy tales; if anybody ever told them fairy tales, and if they liked them. Then I tell them that they are going to listen to one and I usually gather them around me in a circle. As they are teens and usually think, now our teacher has lost her marbles, I tell the story in a shorter version but still try to be quite expressive (I’m glad I can’t see myself when I’m doing that), changing intonation, voice etc. Even though they don’t really know what to think of this, they usually get hooked to the story after a short time. When we get to the end of the story I finish in the usual way ‘ … and they lived happily ever after’ but adding ‘DID THEY?!?’ . That usually starts of the first comments. So we get into a discussion about what might really have happened after they got married etc.

This is the initial lead in. Then I put them in small groups and they brainstorm their ideas how the story might have continued and write them down. Here this could end, with comparing the stories, voting for the best one, correcting the mistakes etc.

In one class my 13-15 year old pre-intermediate students got really into it and we went from there to a collaborative story. We had three drafts and the students discussed and voted which parts of the three drafts should be included in the story, and I wrote the story on the board. Important was that ideas of all three groups had to be included , so that it was really a collaborative story in the end.

After they had decided on the story line, we started on creating a photo story. Some students drew the backgrounds, some did the speech bubbles and others drew and cut out the characters. Of course that was not possible in one 90 min lesson, so we continued with this over a few lessons (well, part of them) and then in a final lesson took all the pictures and put them together like a comic strip. I made a copy for each student and one copy we displayed in the classroom.  Now, with all these  webtools on hand I would probably create the final result differently, but it worked well the way we did it.

By the way, I found a great script for a play based on the book http://www.timelessteacherstuff.com/readerstheater/FrogPrince.pdf written by Jill Jauquet, might try it with one group of my pre-teens before the end of the school year if there’s time left. Otherwise that might be part of my summer school programme for this year.

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