Nothing captures a child’s imagination like a fairy tale. There is a special kind of magic in the words “Once upon a time,” and nothing beats a satisfying “The end.” Though filled with all sorts of things fantastical and strange, there’s a familiar kind of comfort in these stories. Slaying dragons, saving princesses, good triumphing over evil—though perhaps more grim in the past, fairy tales today are all about hope, heroism and living happily ever after.
These fairy tale lesson plans for kindergarten classrooms cast their own kind of spell, one which enchants and educates. As sure as magic beans will sprout a giant beanstalk, these fun lessons will spark your students’ imaginations and unleash their creative potential through the magic of storytelling.
Lesson Plan #1: A Short Modern-Day Fairy Tale
Fairy tales come in all kinds of imaginative shapes and sizes. Giants stomp through some, while in others, something as small as a pea might be to blame for a world of trouble. This sweet fairy tale lesson plan breaks the writing process down into bite-sized steps to make it easy and fun for your kindergarten students to follow:
- Read stories about Tom Thumb and/or Thumbelina together with your students.
- Discuss the characters and plot of the stories. What unique challenges did being tiny pose for Tom and Thumbelina, and how did they overcome them? How does their size affect their point of view?
- Ask your students, what would happen if they woke up one day for school and realized they were no larger than the size of a thumb? Ask them to use a simple brainstorm worksheet to come up with as many ideas as they can.
- Ask your students to each write a journal entry about their unusual day using their favorite ideas that they came up with. Encourage them to practice their descriptive writing skills to paint a picture for the reader of what the world looks like from their new perspective!
- After writing, have your students illustrate their journal entries.
- Publish their work in a classbook styled as a fairy tale journal, complete with fictional dates and a fancy-looking cover and title page!
Lesson Plan #2: Examining Fairy Tale Elements
Fairy tales exist all around the world and tell all kinds of wonderful stories. Some are about magic slippers and others tell tales of enchanted castles and wicked witches. Yet though thousands of different fairy tales exist, nearly all of them share the same six basic elements:
- good characters
- bad characters
- a fantastical setting
- a problem
- a solution
- a bit of magic.
This magical lesson plan helps your students learn not only how to identify these narrative writing elements, but how to use them to tell fairy tales of their own.
- Read a fairy tale together. Any fairy tale will do, as long as it is age-appropriate and contains the six elements listed above. A few well-known examples include the stories of Rapunzel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty or Hansel and Gretel.
- Write each of the elements in six boxes on a blackboard or whiteboard. Ask your students to help you fill in the boxes with the elements from the story you read. Who was good and who was evil? Where did the story take place? What happened? What in the story was magical?
- Next, ask your students to draw their own boxes, one for each element, and brainstorm up some fairy tale elements of their own. Encourage them to get creative with it—perhaps their story will be about an evil princess and a good witch, or a kingdom run by cats and dogs.
- Ask your students to use the elements they came up with to write their own short fairy tales. Their stories should begin with “Once upon a time” and end with “And they lived happily ever after.”
- Have your students peer-edit each other’s work, checking to make sure that all six elements appear in their stories.
- After editing and revising, ask your students to illustrate the most exciting parts of their stories.
- Finally, be sure to publish their art and writing in a beautiful storybook-style classbook!
The Most Magical Lesson of All
As Neil Gaiman once wrote (when paraphrasing G.K. Chesterton), “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Similarly, these fairy tale lesson plans teach your kindergarten students more than just how to read and write fantastical stories. They cast a spell, not of illusion, but of revelation. They show your students that, just like the heroes and heroines of those stories, they too can be brave and resourceful and accomplish incredible things—like becoming published authors.