Discovering Fairytales Day 1 of 2

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SWBAT to identify key details in a fairytale and use those details when retelling the story to a peer.

Big Idea

Settings: castles, forests, and towns. Characters: heroes, villains, peasants and royalty. Fairytales offer us magical story elements that are fun to identify and retell!


12 minutes

Summary and Context:

Today my students will identify key details in a fairytale. We've had the opportunity to read many Cinderella stories (see my Cinderella unit), and now I want them to expand their knowledge of fairytales. In recounting they will need to demonstrate how the story events move from the beginning to the end and include key details about: characters, setting, problem and solution. 

To excite them about the topic and to help us review the key details of a fairytale/narrative, I am starting the lesson by watching an 11-minute fairytale by James Marshall of The Three Little Pigs (see next section for video link). 

Lesson Opening:

Before watching the fairytale, I begin with students on the rug. I review the key details of a story by prompting the question: What makes a fairytale?

I ask them this question because I want us to create a chart of fairy tale elements. This is an authentic way to show their discoveries of common traits found in fairy tales. I continue to add more elements throughout the week as we read more fairy tales.

Watching the fairytale

15 minutes

Besides building enthusiasm for fairytales, I want to show my students that a video can also be considered a text. Thus, my students will watch the fairy tale with a specific purpose: identifying key details in the text.

The videos that are available on youtube vary from time to time, and I am sad to say that the James Marshall video I originally showed is not available any more. However, there are still plenty of options to choose from. I found this oldie from Disney. It has great animation and the pigs sing. Try it out!

Here is the video:

At their seats students take notes in their response journals using a simple graphic organizer to identify the key details. I pause the video to give my students the time to jot down some key details. As students write down the information I will walk around. I am looking for students to clearly identify setting, the characters, the problem, and the plot.

Recounting The Three Little Pigs

5 minutes

Now that we have finished watching the fairytale and have taken notes, I ask my students to retell the story to each other. They will take turns doing so. My students benefit much from practicing academic language and this is one way I meet their needs.

As they recount orally the key details of The Three Little Pigs by James Marshall, I walk around and eavesdrop on their interactions. I want to make sure they are on task.

Choosing a Fairytale

7 minutes

With the help of table monitors, we place different fairytales on the tables. I want my students to widen their knowledge of the fairytales beyond the Cinderella stories and the most popular/common ones. In this way my students can see the different versions of the same story. Choosing their own fairytales helps them to take ownership of their learning. This builds their confidence too. I am looking for them to browse and select quickly.

Pair Share

3 minutes

I bring the students back on the rug with their chosen fairytale. I do this because I want to make sure everyone has chosen a book. It helps to keep them accountable. Also, I am giving them further instructions and it is always best to have everyone’s attention before continuing.

Reading the fairytales

15 minutes

During this time, students engage in reading their chosen fairytale quietly to themselves. Before asking them to read, I told them to pay attention to the details so that they could retell their text afterwards the same way we did with the Three Little Pigs.

One of the challenges working with our school population is the lack of literacy experiences the students have. Thus, this time also helps us work on building reading stamina. I have provided them with a variety of titles and length to meet their needs. I monitor students as they read. I want to make sure they are tracking their reading. They can whisper read since it is hard for students at this age to read silently. I am happy to see my students challenging themselves.

Identifying Key Details

17 minutes

I bring student back to their seats. I let them work independently on Nancy Fetzer's Narrative Lecture Notes graphic organizer as they identify the key details of their fairytale in recounting the beginning, middle, and end. I call a small group that needs more scaffolding to the round table/rug to give them support.

The Narrative Lecture Notes graphic organizer is a tool developed by Nancy Fetzer. I highly recommend you check her work out!