10 Fairy-Tale Lesson Plans That Are Learning Magic

Because there is no one way to read a story

fairy tale lesson plans

What do we call it when an author takes a classic fairy tale and changes it into something completely different? A fractured fairy tale. Kids love them. “It’s by far my students’ favorite language arts unit every year,” writes teacher Jessie Averson, a second-grade teacher in Tennessee. We asked teachers across the country for their fractured-fairy-tale lesson plans. Here are the top 11 ideas. (Plus, fractured-fairy-tale book lists at the bottom of the page!)

1. Define fairy tales

“Start off by asking students to share their favorite fairy tales. Record the list on a piece of chart paper. Then ask the class: ‘What makes a fairy tale a fairy tale?’ You’ll be amazed at their answers, and it will lay the groundwork for all the work that follows.” —Jessie Averson

2. Tell a tale

“Choose a fairy tale that you know well and TELL the story—no props, no pictures—just tell it. Storytelling is becoming a lost art. You will be amazed at how your students respond as they paint pictures in their minds while listening to your words. My students become instantly quiet and focused when I begin to tell a story.” —Linda Joyce

3. Collaborate

“Read three or four or five traditional fairy tales aloud. If your students are familiar enough with the stories, tell the stories collaboratively as a class at circle time. As they relate the tale together, your students may discover that they do not all remember the story the same way.” —Ellen Ivory

4. Readers theater

“Readers theater is essential. Choose a fairy tale or two and have groups of three or four students each take a different version and perform it as readers theater! My second graders loved it and they made their own props too!” —Mallory Wintercorn

5. Point of view


“Fractured fairy tales are great for teaching about point of view. Read titles such as ‘Believe Me, Goldilocks Rocks!’ or ‘The Story of the Three Bears as Told by Baby Bear’ by Nancy Jean Loewen and talk about how different characters might have a different perspective. Loewen also has versions of ‘Cinderella’ and ‘The Three Little Pigs.'” —Karen Griffin

6. Pull STEM into your fairy-tale lesson plans

“As a side STEM activity for The Three Little Pigs, gather building materials such as straws, Popsicle sticks, LEGO, etc., and explore how effective they are as building materials!” —April JW

7. Go cross-curricular

“We make our fairy-tale unit cross-curricular. We plant beans after reading ‘Jack and the Beanstalk.’ We also build castles with recyclable items. After reading ‘Cinderella,’ we do an activity where we measure Cinderella’s, her sisters’ and her godmother’s shoes. We do problem-solving with the characters from fairy tales. It all ends with Fairy Tale Day, when kids dress up as princesses, knights, and dragons. Such a fun celebration for everyone!” —Mylene Arseneau

8. Rewrite the story

“I like the idea of a creative writing assignment or—for younger kids—a storytelling assignment. Swap the bad guys in the stories. The Big Bad Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood chases Hansel and Gretel. What would happen? How would the stories be different?” —Phil Weber

9. Improv

“In drama class, I would choose a fairy tale and then change three objects in the story and the students would have to come up with ways to keep the storyline but still include the objects. For Snow White, instead of an apple, use a tissue box; instead of a mirror, use a computer. The kids loved it!” —Laurie Elliot

10. Travel the world

“There are so many versions of Cinderella from different cultures. When I taught second grade, we did a unit called ‘Around the World With Cinderella.’ Students made passports and read versions of Cinderella from several continents. They had to compare and contrast a few stories and then they wrote their own.” —Kenya Brown

11. Flip the script

“After my second graders study fairy tales, we read The End by David LaRochelle. It starts with ‘and they all lived happily ever after,’ and it ends as you can imagine with ‘once upon a time.’ My students think it’s so funny!”—April Ralph

Now that you have fairy-tale lesson plans, you need the books! Check out these links for fractured-fairy-tale book lists on the following stories: