Theme in Princess and the Pea

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SWBAT identify the theme in a folktale.

Big Idea

Students will get exposure to a folktale and determine the theme.


10 minutes

Common Core Connection and Introduction

In this lesson I use two of my favorite stories The Princess and the Pea and The Tortoise and the Hare. Both text have great central messages and I hope to get the students to understand how they can even apply the message in these stories to their life. I often share personal stories to help my students connect to the lesson, then we work together on the lesson goal. I share my story in the student reflection.   Next, students get into small heterogeneous groups to work on their own project.  Last, we meet on the lounge, reflect and share what we learned. 

I use heterogeneous groups for everything except Response to Intervention because students are working together and can help each other. They also develop communication skill and learn to get along as they work through the lesson goal.  Students are engaging in higher order thinking as they explain their reasoning to their peers and collaborate to develop the message.


I show the image of the bed and ask my students to discuss with their partner what we might learn about today.  This is a fun way to engage the students in predicting and activate their thinking. Next, I tell the class that we are going to read a folktale, which has been passed down from person to person.  I explain that there will be details and those details will lead us to a big message.  I share that we will be making notes to organize our ideas.  The lesson goal is which I make the students chant is, I can determine the message in a folktale.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

My students (Partners) read the printed copy of the Princess and the Pea.  Students discuss the key details. Several volunteers share their ideas.  Then students discuss the message or lesson to be learned.  Last several students share their ideas about the message.  Each speaker must justify their decision. The Board Work that is created is in the resources.


Partner Work

20 minutes

As we transition to the center tables I scaffold instruction by reading the students the Tortoise and the Hare. Each child needs a copy of the text to use to find evidence. Then the students can work in small groups (Partners) to make notes and organize their thoughts.  Last they can come up with their message.

I walk around and support learning by listening and observing.  I have found that I need to listen more instead of hurry up and help my students.  They really need a facilitator at this point to help them when they get stuck. Some of the questions I ask the students when they get stuck are: What happened?  Why did that happen?  How did the Hares behavior affect the result?  So, what did you learn? How did the Tortoise's behavior affect the result?  So, how did the character that won act? After all this they usually have the message.

Student Reflection

5 minutes

As the class joins on the lounge for reflection I tell them about how this is my favorite book.  My Dad would read it to me almost every night when I was little. I think it really helped make me who I am today. Then I share a story from my childhood because I think this helps my students learn to reflect and they enjoy learning about their teacher. When I was younger I was always the Tortoise. My parents allowed me to have a horse and take riding lessons so I began showing. I was second in the world equitation class so many times before I finally won. I never quit I just kept taking my lessons and practicing until one day I finally won. I hope this book inspires you to never give up on your dreams.

After my story, I allow two or three students to share their work in front of the class,and practice their speaking and listening skills.  I have a video (Student Reflection) showing what this looks like in the resources. To encourage students to use their higher order thinking skills I ask students to comment on their peers work and I add comments too.  This lets them understand what they did well and where they can improve.  I find that with support and guidance students can be very successful in their work.


5 minutes

As the lesson winds down students talk to their partner about what they learned today. I am hoping they were able to reflect on their life and make some kind of statement about how they will never give up. My ears are listening closely and I try to repeat some of the things I heard.  

Last, I explain the plan for further study of the message from a folktale.  I like to engage my class in speaking by having them echo the goal, tell a friend, and say it with me.  This makes learning more meaningful and I think student remember more when they understand the lesson goal.