The magic and wonder found in classic fairy tales have been capturing the imagination of old and young alike for centuries. In elementary schools, the traditional stories that engage early grades during story time can also inspire creativity in older students when incorporated into projects in a variety of subjects.
Fairy tales can inspire the artistic creativity in students at any grade level. Students can draw pictures or make collages that depict alternate endings to their favorite fairy tale. Shoebox dioramas let children create 3-D models of a fairy tale scene to be viewed through a small hole cut into the side of the box. For a group art project, students may work together to create small sets featuring common fairy tale settings, such as a forest or a castle. Then students can individually construct character puppets from construction paper and craft sticks to use in dramatic reenactments of various fairy tales.
Reading and writing fairy tale projects teach children to recognize literary elements utilized in the classic tales and give students creative writing practice. Students can first break down the story by identifying character roles, settings and plot points, such as the conflict, rising action, the story's climax and the resolution. Writing projects may ask students to rewrite familiar tales from a different point of view, such as a first-person narrative or as a different story type, such as comedy or a science fiction. A fairy tale mash-up project asks students to combine the characters and plots of two different stories into one tale with a cohesive plot.
History and Social Studies Research
Given the Old World elements featured in the classic stories, such as spinning wheels, cooking over fireplaces and shoe cobblers, fairy tales are tailor made for history and social studies projects. Cultural research projects ask students to develop a picture of what life would be like during the time period depicted in a fairy tale, in the country where the tale was written or another assigned geographical region. Students might also analyze how the plot of a specific fairy tale might have changed had it taken place in another country or time period.
Fairy tales can also serve as the theme for projects that unite projects in multiple subjects. A Cinderella’s coach project combines art and science as students learn about farming and plant cycles while growing pumpkins, then create their own coaches in an art project using hollowed-out pumpkins. Math and language can be combined in an assignment that asks students to create their own fairy tale word problems using appropriate grammar and spelling words. For example, a student might ask how many individual shoes are worn out in “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” story. Social studies and creative writing can be combined in a project that asks students to write biographies for fairy tale characters and to develop fully functional communities and households for them.
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