Using Fairy Tales to teach reading comprehension. Here are some easy to plan lesson ideas. Don’t miss the free fairy tale reading lessons printables!
Monday morning my students are already gathered at the carpet for story time. We’ve just finished our morning meeting and movement break and I whisper to them “Friends, we are going to get to visit with an old friend again today.”
Do they all look to the classroom door? No!
They know me well by now and they can see I am hiding a book face down in my lap.
Immediately they begin trying to peek at the spine to read the title. Their brains begin wondering from Elephant and Piggie, to Pete the Cat, to our Kevin Henkes favorites.
Slowly I reveal the cover to Jack and the Beanstalk.
“I was gonna guess that!” one student shouts followed by an echo of “yeah me too”s.
There’s a reason I have a pile of books we call old friends, and it’s because they are the books that we revisit time and time again to revisit new concepts, launch writing lessons, or practice our reading fluency.
And there’s definitely a reason that fairy tales are filling up a good portion of that bin.
If you’ve ever sat down with a blank plan book and a list of goals and standards, you know how complicated it can be to seek out materials for each. It’s like you want a visit from the fairy Godmother to come and fill up those pages for you.
Fairy tales reading comprehension lessons can be sort of like that because there are so many directions you can go with the predictable cadence of such tales.
From Jack and the Beanstalk to Little Red Riding Hood, here are 5 ways to zap your planbook with that fairy godmother wand and fill it up with great reading comprehension lessons.
What is the setting again?
Who were the characters in The Three Little Pigs? How about the setting in Little Red Riding Hood? Fairy tales are awesome for teaching story parts because they have very clear text parts. You can do this by creating a story mat where students draw the setting on a large piece of paper and then use characters to move about the mat in order to orally verbalize their understanding of the story.
Was Goldilocks kind in her fairy tale?
In many fairy tales, the characters have super clear character traits. Think of Goldilocks and how her actions help children to learn about her. There are also often other characters that nicely create natural discussions of compare/ contrast (think the little pigs and the big bad wolf).
What Happened Next?
Retelling stories is one of the ways that we measure comprehension, as well as help students to understand how all of the parts and character traits work together to create a story in sequence. Some stories have events that are not important to tell in order, but fairy tales are different. The plot of these stories is very logical, so it’s a great way to introduce retelling. I love using retelling mats to help students orally recite the story. Then that sort of oral retell can transition to writing about reading, including completing parts of a retelling booklet.
Get the Gist?
If your students have a good grasp on retelling and story parts, you might be reaching for a way to teach summary. Using a familiar story with a clear story line is a great place to start. It can help students to begin to write a summary. I like to still use the First, Next, Then, Finally guide words to help students. It is a great time to teach how to sort of group “retelling” events together in order to fit a summary into that framework with guide words.
How about the True Story of the Three Little Pigs?
From the Goatilocks, to Little Red Hot to The Snow Bears, authors have done some really fun spin offs of traditional fairy tales that are relatable and usually funny that help to reinforce all of the other comprehension strategies. It’s also a great time for students to compare versions, and think critically about whether the differences change the message or to ask how the characters are the same or different. It’s a great
What Can We All Learn from those Three Billy Goats?
Teaching the theme of a story can be really difficult. It’s even more difficult in a complicated story with an unpredictable story line. Fairy tales offer a great opportunity to talk about what the characters have learned in the story and what that means for you.
What did the animals learn in The Little Red Hen? They learned that when you don’t help do the work, you might not get the reward. What can you learn? Hard work is rewarded . Of course that will take a little bit of guidance, but because the plots are pretty clear in these stories, they seem to be stories that have really helped my students make the leap between the lesson in the story, to the theme or overall lesson.
While I cannot claim to have a magic wand …
and I am certainly not a fairy godmother, I can help you zap your plan book with a few freebies that can help you get started! Click below and I’ll send them right to your inbox!