Grimm’s Fairy Tales – Cinderella

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I was very excited about this unit!  I’d had so many ideas floating about in my head with regards to one day making them into a unit study.  None had ever come to fruition.  Now, though, seemed the perfect time to resurrect them.  The older ones and I were studying the 19th century together and it was in the early nineteenth century that the Brothers Grimm produced their well-known fairy tales.  It was the perfect time to take a few weeks to study them and see what we could learn along the way.  This week we focused on Cinderella.

Read aloud: Cinderella

I read aloud the complete collection of Grimm’s Fairy tales (original version).  I was very interested to read the original Cinderella which didn’t contain even a mention of a Fairy Godmother, and the wicked step mother was so wicked she instructed her daughters to cut off first their toes and then their heels in order to fit into the shoe!

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It was very interesting to hear A8 comment that she preferred the original version because it seemed far more likely that birds would fly down with a ball gown for Cinderella than a Fairy Godmother magic one out of thin air (!)

Read Alone: Cinderella

I have a lovely set of picture books which are simple retellings of the well-known stories.  Whilst they will hear the originals read aloud by me, I will be expecting A8 to read these picture books to herself during quiet time.

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Whilst A8 was reading the fairy tales, B5 had a little down time of her own.  Sharing a room with a sister who wakes consistently at 5 am each morning was creating a very tired little five-year old.  B really needs to be asleep a couple more hours but as she does not like going to bed on her own at night we decided to reintroduce nap times again.  She rather likes to be in bed so it was not hard to persuade her to get those extra hours during the afternoon.  I bought her a copy of the audio version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and now she falls asleep listening to them each day:

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Literary Work: Cinderella

I will be working on one fairy tale per week and will be applying aspects of this fairy tale unit study to each story:

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Handwriting

As A8 finds writing so very difficult, I copied out some quotes from the original story for her to copy and illustrate.  I made some up for her sister as well.

Elements of a Fairy Tale

On Monday we investigated the elements of what makes Cinderella a fairy tale, as opposed to, say, an epic.  This includes the following:

  • A make-believe story
  • A magical element
  • Personification of humans
  • Begins with…’Once upon a time’
  • Ends with…..’Happily ever after’
  • Has a villain
  • Often has princes and princesses
  • Takes place in a forest or a castle
  • A kind character is mistreated

We used the unit study above to introduce each element in a fun way, after which we went through Cinderella to find each element.

Comprehension

I used a list of questions to determine the girls’ understanding of Cinderella:

  • Who is the main character?  What is he/she like?
  • Who is the villain?
  • What is the setting?
  • Describe the magic used in the story
  • What problem did the main character come up against?
  • How did the character react to the problem?
  • How was the problem solved?

I also photocopied important events in the story (including a ‘once upon a time’ start and a ‘happy ever after ending’ which interestingly doesn’t start and end the original Cinderella).  I cut these into strips and had the children place them in an order which retold the story accurately.

Cinderella Readers’ Theater

I found the download to a heap of short Fairy Tale reader’s theatre scripts which you can find here (If anyone knows where the original comes from I will happily add the link).

I had the older girls help with this and asked them to find lots of props and dress up and allocate the parts to each member of the family and together we had a bit of fun with a reader’s theatre performance:

Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl named Cinderella, who lived with her two ugly step sisters:

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The ugly step sisters were unbearable and they made Cinderella’s life unbearable too:

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One day they were invited to go to the prince’s ball.  The step sisters attended this ball, leaving Cinderella at home to work.  But the Fairy Godmother came:

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She waved her magic wand and created Cinderella the most beautiful ball dress, as well as a means to get to the ball:

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Once at the ball, the prince took one look at her and instantly fell in love:

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As the clock struck midnight, Cinderella hurriedly left the ball, leaving her glass shoe behind.  The Prince sought his kingdom high and low, looking for the owner of the glass show.  Every maiden in the kingdom tried on the shoe but to no avail (although scarily Ugly Sister Lillie was able to get her foot into the shoe!):

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Fortunately the Prince demanded Cinderella try it on.  It fitted (of course) and they all lived happily ever after (even the wicked step sisters who seemed to be in some never-ending hysterics on the sofa!):

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Building Cinderella’s Castle

Thomas had a bit of free time during this week, as he wasn’t doing a lot of the Jane Austen activities, so I had him help the little ones build a foam castle I had bought in the sale at The Works:

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I had to laugh after hearing him mutter to himself in disgust that this was meant for an eight year old so he would have thought he, a fifteen year old, could have built it with ease!  He got there in the end though and left the girls to add the stickers themselves:

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Which they did with alacrity:

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Cinderella Around the World

We already had these books so I simply read them out loud.  I find it fascinating that so many countries have their own version of what was essentially a very short tale written by the Grimm brothers all those years ago 🙂

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Cinderella Themed Snacks

I found a fun fudge recipe which I made with the little ones to eat alongside a milkshake whilst watching the films:

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Cinderella Films

We had fun watching three Cinderella based films.  All of them were delightful:

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Extending the theme further…..

There is a lovely set of books which are perfect for read aloud by author Chris Colfer.  As a child, he used to imagine the back stories of the main characters in the fairy tales and would, in his head, ask the question of why?  Why was Cinderella’s step mother so evil; why was the bad fairy in sleeping beauty so bad….and so on.  The result of all these childhood imaginings is his fictitious book series ‘The Land of Stories’:

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We have already read these through once but both girls are always asking me to read them again, which I intend to do once we finish this unit and the next fairy tale unit focusing on the fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson.

Next week we will be covering Sleeping Beauty.

Weekly Wrap-Up

8 comments

  1. I kind of want to join in the fun at your house myself! What a lot of fun and learning!
    We’re doing a study right now of folk tales around the world. It’s interesting to see some of the same fairy tales we know popping up in other cultures entirely differently. I still love to read them 🙂
    P.S. Only at your house would there just happen to be enough costumes to act out Cinderella so well……….

  2. This sounds like so much fun. One of the reasons why I miss not having a girl is fairy tales. My boys don’t like fairy tales and I have nobody to share those wonderful stories with. But it sure is nice seeing someone else having so much fun and learning with them.

  3. I always wanted to do a fairy tale unit and never followed through, now my kids are probably too old for most of the activities I want to do….. I could force them into it……

    You should check out Into the Woods, it’s a collection of all the Fairy Tales smashed together into a play, but it’s based on the original Grimms’ Tales.

  4. I love fairy tales and it looks like you all had fun too. We have the same picture book versions (Miles Kelly?) and I’ve used them at school as they use the ‘new’ exclamatory sentences from the 2014 curriculum really well. (Even though I don’t agree!) I love the illustrations in them too and my 5 year old chooses them almost every night for his bedtime story. I love reading about your home education adventures. 😊

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