Free Five-Day Fairy Tale Unit Study

Did you know that February 26 is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day? Whether it's on that day or any other time of year, fairy tales make for a fun unit study experience. There are so many great fairy tales to explore, and reading fairy tales can get kids thinking creatively as well.

This five-day unit study can be used the week of National Tell a Fairy Tale Day or any other time of the year. It has some general fairy tale resources as well as a few specific fairy tales that you can explore each day. I've tried to pick beautiful and unique picture book versions of some of our favorite fairy tales.

Free fairy tale unit study



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Although you can certainly adapt the resources in this study for older or younger students, it's written with upper elementary or middle grade students in mind. Classic fairy tales often have dark and scary elements, and younger children might find them really frightening.

At the end I've posted a booklist of many other great fairy tales. You could pick these up to keep in your book basket during the week of your unit study or you could continue on longer than five days reading some of these great books. Want to plan your own unit study with these resources? You can pick up a free unit study planner here.

Day One- What Is a Fairy Tale?


Use a KWL Chart to list what kids already know about fairy tales ("K") and some questions, things they would like to learn ("W"). (At the end of today's discussion, you'll fill in the "L" column with what they learned.)

Read the definition of a fairy tale and find some examples here.

Have kids recall a fairy tale that they know and tell the story.

Print out the "What Do We Find in a Fairy Tale Chart" here and talk about the elements of a fairy tale. You can find more information about these elements in this article. Have kids remember the fairy tales they just told and see of each of those elements can be found in them.

Fairy tales are perfect for looking at the plot structure of a story. Use these slides to talk about the parts of a story. You can see a great example using Cinderella in these slides.

As you end today's lesson, fill in the "What I Learned (L)" section in the KWL chart.

Day Two- Beauty and the Beast


Beauty and the Beast adapted by Mahlon F. Craft is a beautiful adaptation of this classic tale by Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont who actually adapted it from a French fairy tale called ‘La Belle et la BĂȘte’, written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Bardot de Villeneuve in 1740. To begin today's lesson, read the story- either the adaptation listed or Jeanne-Marie's story in English here.

Take out the "What Do We Find in a Fairy Tale Chart" from yesterday and look for those elements in the story.

Print off one of the plot charts here and have kids fill it in with the story elements.

It is likely that you've seen or read the Disney version of this fairy tale. Discuss with the kids the similarities and differences.

Readers Theater is fun to do with fairy tales. You can find a free script for Beauty and the Beast for six characters here.

Day Three- Rapunzel


Rapunzel adapted by Paul O. Zelinsky is a beautiful adaptation of the story from brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm.

After you read the adaptation, look at these two versions of the original from 1812 and 1857. Talk about the changes made in those two versions and then in the adaptation you read. Why would those changes be made? Which versions do kids like better?

Take out the "What Do We Find in a Fairy Tale Chart" and look for those elements in Rapunzel.

Print off one of the plot charts here and fill it in with the story elements.

Most fairy tales- as well as other short stories- follow the Hero's Journey. This video explains that idea. Discuss this with the kids and talk about how the story of Rapunzel fits or doesn't fit.

Day Four- Hansel and Gretel


Hansel and Gretel adapted by Rika Lesser is an adaptation of the original story written by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm.

As you did with Rapunzul, read the adaptation. Then read this comparison of the 1812 and 1857 versions by the brothers Grimm. Talk about similarities and differences and why they may have changed over time.

Use one of the plot diagrams here to diagram the plot of the story.

Take out the "What Do We Find in a Fairy Tale Chart" and look for those elements in Hansel and Gretel.

The Grimm brothers are the original authors of many of the fairy tales we read today. Visit this site and read about the history of these brothers and their tales.

Day Five- Little Red Riding Hood


Little Red Riding Hood adapted by Trina Schart Hyman is an adaptation of a well-known fairy tale that has many original versions.

The Grimm brothers wrote one version of Little Red Riding Hood, but there are many different versions of the story from different countries and cultures around the world. You can read the Grimm brothers' original story here, as well as the other versions of the tale. Compare and contrast the different versions by creating a chart

Many fairy tales and fables have a moral to the story. Little Red Riding Hood is a good story for finding and discussing a clear moral. Discuss the moral with the kids and then go back and discuss the other fairy tales you've read this week to see if you can find a moral to them.

Fractured fairy tales are fun to read and to write. Use this slide share to talk about what a fractured fairy tale is. Then use this tool from Read Write Think to let kids create their version of a fractured fairy tale for Little Red Riding Hood.


More Fairy Tale Picture Books


Here are more beautiful versions of fairy tales and some fractured fairy tale picture books.

This site has a HUGE list of fairy tales, myths, and folklore texts that you can read for free online.

Classic Fairy Tales (Vol.1) by Scott Gustafson (This author has a couple of other beautiful volumes of fairy tales too!)

Cinderella by K.Y. Craft

The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Marianna Mayer

Rumpelstiltskin by Paul O. Zelinsky

Jack and the Beanstalk by Steven Kellogg

No Lie, Pigs (and Their Houses) Can Fly!: The Story of the Three Little Pigs as Told by the Wolf (The Other Side of the Story) by Jessica Gunderson







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