Fractured Fairy Tales
by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
Yay! Tomorrow is Fairy Tale Day! Further to my post last week, Let's Celebrate Fairy Tale Day - with its free PDF booklet and worksheet for kids! - today I want to fracture some fairy tales. Be sure to read to the end where I tell you about another new free PDF, The Three Little Pigs.
Ideas for Parents and Teachers
First of all, here's a classroom activity that "fractures" a fairy tale by combining fairy tale elements into a whole new story.
Brainstorm lists of fairytale characters, magical objects and interesting settings. In groups of three or four, students each choose a character for themselves. The group chooses or are given one setting and one magical object. Kids develop a story based on those elements.
Example: Group 3 consists of Mandie, Paul and Billy. Mandie chooses Snow White, Paul chooses Aladdin, Billy chooses a Bear. Together they decide that their setting will be a castle at night and their magical object a cloak of invisibility. They work together to plan a story about Aladdin and Bear sneaking into the castle where Snow White is captive, only to be confronted with a red dragon which has the power to see through their invisible cloaks.
Starter list of characters: the Big Bad Wolf; Aladdin; Pig; Snow White; Rumplestiltskin; a poor woodcutter; a witch; an ugly step-sister; a wicked queen; a brave knight; a beast; a unicorn; a magician.
Starter list of magical objects: a flying broom; a magic wand; a cloak of invisibility; a magic lamp; a cloak with super powers; pixie dust; a powerful potion; a magic feather; a singing sword; a magic carpet; a never-ending carnival ride.
Starter list of settings: a dark, dark cave; a castle; an enchanted forest; a pirate's den; a dragon's lair; a gingerbread house in the woods; a tall tower atop a high mountain; a flooded river; a dungeon; a wedding; a supermarket; a ghost town; a hijacked plane.
With older kids, try adding extra elements like conflict (one character is determined to be the next King, a dragon menaces the characters, the palace plumber goes on strike) styles (in the style of a western movie or a TV soap opera) or Titles etc.
This idea works as the focus for multiple activities or lesson plans. It can be:
* a group storytelling
* an individual writing activity
* a group drama improvisation
* a group improvisation followed by collaborative writing
* the idea behind a poster or illustration
Writing a whole fairy tale might be too much for younger kids. Why not have them focus on writing a new ending for a known fairy tale, or changing the setting before writing their own shortened version. They might choose to put the three little pigs into high rise buildings, or have Cinderella spurn the Prince. This definitely still counts as a fractured fairy tale.
Kids could tell a fractured fairy tale-type joke in cartoon format, or as an image with an added caption. For the cartoon above, I decided to fracture The Three Little Pigs. I looked in the characters section of Comics Head, an iPad app I really like, and found some rabbits. The idea of just three rabbits seemed silly, and so a cartoon was born!
Another creative activity involves drawing simple outlines of fairy tale characters. You need to ensure the same proportions are used as you will eventually cut the characters in half and have kids mix and match to create a new character. If you're not great at drawing, check out Print Activities. Or play pass the character with folded paper. Kids draw the top half of a fairy tale character, going as far as the waist, then fold the page in half and pass it on to the next person who draws the bottom half of a character, without looking at the top. Pencil marks help - to show where the top half should end and bottom half begin, on pre-folded paper.
Family Fun has a mad-libs style fairy tale printable that kids can fill in.
Use the wonderful artwork at Storybird to create your own fractured fairy tale with kids. Check out artists like Ingvard the Terrible, and iliv, or simply browse to look for images you like. Here's some more information about Storybird.
Fractured Fairytales was a regular segment in a TV show called (if my memory is correct) Rocky and Bullwinkle. You can find these segments on Youtube, like this one of Goldilocks.
If you're looking for some fractured fairy tale books, check out Jen Robinson's review of Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. I also like the sound of Seriously Silly Stories by Laurence Anholt (Thanks to librarian Kerry for the suggestion!)
Karen's Whimsy has a great public domain section with lots of fairy tale images. Kids could use these pictures to remind themselves of a known or not so well-known tale, before introducing changes to make a new one.
Challenges for Kids:
Seek out some fairy tales that have been changed. Roald Dahl wrote Revolting Rhymes which have fairy tales fractured in this way. Look in your school or local library for a copy of this fun book. Or check out Dahl's Three Little Pigs on the video below.
Compare a fractured fairy tale with the real version. What things are the same/different?
What if Jack had climbed the beanstalk, only to find somebody else living there? Who might that be? Imagine what would happen when Jack meets this new character. Tell your friends your ideas.
Have a fractured fairytale contest with your friends. Don't stop at fracturing or changing a fairytale some way. Create a little play about one and perform it for some other friends.
What would happen to Red Riding Hood if she met a big bad cockroach, or a big bad muffin?
Who might win in a battle between the Big Bad Wolf and Incy Wincy Spider? Can you imagine a reason for the spider to win? What other battles can you devise?
Visit the Carnegie Library's My Story Maker and create your own fairy tale-like story with the art work there. (More information about My Story Maker here.)
A fairy tale doesn't need to be funny to be fractured, though it usually is. Here's a PDF play I wrote called The Three Little Pigs where the pigs and the wolf make friends at the end. Use the play as a reader's theatre and perform it for another class or your parents.
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