Grade Appropriate units:

This complete unit plan can be taught in 4–5 weeks, or lesson components can be taught individually within 1–5 days as described below.

Lesson Introduction:
The focus for students in this age group is to begin learning the art of story telling through a look at fairy tales and folktales. Students will practice telling stories out loud as well as writing them online. Depending on time and curriculum needs, you may want to pick a specific activity or genre to focus on.

Fairy Tales Project Introduction (1 Day)
Ask students to name fairy tales that they know. Write the responses on the chalkboard. Then have them talk about why they like fairy tales. Share a book version of the story of "Cinderella" or other popular fairy tale. Ask students to point out illustrations or plot features that make this story a fairy tale. Ask them to give reasons for their responses.

Read through Discovering Fairy Tales alone before you assign this page to students. Read it with the whole class if your students are proficient listeners and readers. You may wish to paraphrase the page's details or skip it entirely if your students are mostly novice readers.

John Scieszka: Fractured Fairy Tales (3–4 Days)
As a transition activity, remind students of the previous day's discussion. Have them recall fairy tale titles. Have students tell why each story is a fairy tale. Then introduce fractured fairy tales by defining them as funny versions of fairy tales. Ask students to make up titles of funny fairy tales.

Fractured Fairy Tales Classroom Activities
Read aloud "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs" and then lead students through the activity in "Before Reading the Book" section, which includes reading aloud The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka. Have small groups do the compare and contrast activity. Call on volunteers to tell about two or three of the group's findings.

Choose one or two of the "Classroom Activities" depending on available time.

Modify activities as per the following:

Point of View As an alternative to writing, have the class take a secret ballot vote on A. Wolf's innocence. Ask volunteers to explain why they voted the way they did. Then have students draw a picture of a favorite scene in the story of A. Wolf with a caption explaining why he is innocent or guilty.

A Letter to A. Wolf Write the letter as a whole-group activity. Allow every volunteer to add a question to the letter to A. Wolf.

Read All About It Suggest this activity to students showing proficiency with the project.

Act It Out! Schedule time for each group to have a chance to perform.

More Fairy Tale Fun As an alternative to writing funny versions of tales, have students record the versions on tape or video.

Create a Fractured Fairy Tale and Post Online (3–4 Days)
Have students complete a fractured fairy tale version of an original story. You may wish to take part in story building ideas with beginner groups. When students are done with their fairy tales. Read all entries on paper, before allowing students to submit them online.

Checklist for Fractured Fairy Tales
Did the student:

  • use fairy tale elements, such as magic, characters with unusual powers, a story moral?
  • include a fractured interpretation?
  • use creative language?
  • write an original story?

Project Wrap-up (2–3 Days) Give students time to finish outstanding activities. If students finish their projects early, suggest that they take part in another of the suggested activities with a partner.

Folktales Project Introduction (1 Day)
For students in grades 1–3, you can continue your genre studies by studying Folktales and folklore.

Ask students to discuss what they think folktales means. Point out that folktales are stories passed on from one person to the next by word of mouth or by oral tradition. Share a folktale from Nina Jaffe's book Tales for the Seventh Day: A Collection of Sabbath Stories, or other folktale you are familiar with. Discuss defining elements of folktale (for example: takes place anytime, takes place anywhere, animals can talk, etc.) and write them on the board and have students point out genre characteristics of the folktale being read aloud.

Folktale Writing With Alma Flor Ada and Rafe Martin (10 Days)
Tell students that now that they have gathered information about folktales, they are ready to explore writing one. Have students begin the Folktale Writing with Alma Flor Ada and Rafe Martin.

  • Step 1: Folktales: Have groups of three students take turns reading "Half-Chicken" or "The Shark God." Ask them to use storytelling voices, and practice fluency through expression .
  • Step 2: Brainstorming: Read the Brainstorming tips with the whole class. Use "Half-Chicken" or "The Shark God" as a model to illustrate tip ideas as you read them. For example, when reading that the folktale genre entails imagining the world that acts as the setting, remind students that rivers and fires can speak in Half-Chicken's world.
  • Step 3: Write Your Folktale: Suggest that small groups discuss the Alma's and Rafe's challenges on this page. Remind students also to refer to the Brainstorming tips as they draft their folktales.
  • Step 4: Publish Online: Once they've completed their revision, have students follow directions to publish their folktale online. Encourage students to use the Preview option to proofread their stories one more time before submitting. They should also print the preview page to hand in for teacher assessment.

Exploring Everyday Folklore (3–4 Days)
Have students read "What Is Folklore?" and "Finding Folklore" and the samples of folklore provided in each. Invite volunteers to offer an example of each of the following kinds of lore: "children," "community," "family," "behavioral," and "oral." You may wish to rotate small groups of students to do the online reading or print out the appropriate pages for students to read offline.

  • Tell students they will research folklore with their family and then publish their findings online.
  • Ask students to read "Your Folklore." Print out a copy of the Research tips.
  • Practice interviewing techniques in the classroom before assigning students to interview parents and family members.
  • Have students share their interviews with the class.
  • Make a copy of the submission requirements. Post it in the classroom or distribute copies to students.
  • Schedule online publishing slots for each student.

Storytelling Workshop (5 Days)
Remind students that folktales were originally told and not written. Tell students they are going to create an oral version of a folktale.

  • About Storytelling Print the page before hand or have small groups read the page together online, writing down four main points about folktales. Invite groups to share information with the class.
  • Listen & Watch Download Flash ahead of class time if you don't already have it. Then invite small groups to view "How Monkey Stole the Drum" and record the story's folktale features. Revisit the Folktale Writing Workshop and listen again to Rafe Martin and Alma Flor Ada reading their folktales as well.
  • Becoming a Storyteller Invite students to choose an established folktale upon which they will base their oral tale. Suggest that students plot the following parts when constructing their outlines: Story Beginning, Story Problem, Story Middle, Solution, Story Ending. Have students fill these in using the established folktale. Then suggest that students use the outline as a framework for constructing an original tale.
  • Imagination Exercises Suggest that groups read both activities and choose the one they want to do to practice their oral and spatial storytelling skills.
  • Telling Tales Together Have students test out their folktale knowledge by trying this interactive activity.
  • It's Your Turn Allow students time to rehearse telling their story.

Project Wrap-up (2–3 Days)
Give students time to finish up any outstanding activities. Use this time to schedule a storytelling performance day. Assess students' proficiency with the storytelling activity by consulting the activity rubric (see assessment and evaluation). If students complete the project ahead of time, have them respond in their journals to the following questions:

  • How is telling a story different from reading a story?
  • What is special about listening to a story told by a storyteller?
  • What can you learn from knowing about folklore?
  • What is special about a folktale?

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