Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fairy Tales Online and a Fairy Tale Party

In Fairy Tales Online(1), I suggested some Youtube videos as a way to introduce your kids to the wonderful world of fairy tales. I bemoaned the fact that many fairy tale collections that are offered for sale in supermarkets are of poor quality writing. That prompted Rebecca Newman, editor of children's magazine Alphabet Soup, and Babette Reeves of The Passionate Librarian to recommend the book, Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales, by Lucy Cousins. I found it at Walker Books and hope to review it soon.

If you're looking for some more online places to explore fairy tales with your kids, read on.

Online Resources

Yesterday, I wrote about Scholastic's Myth Brainstorming Machine which has a fairy tale component for young writers.

CBeebies has many Fairy Tales to read. These are perfect for under 7s. Some, like The Elves and the Shoemaker, have associated printable booklets of the story and craft activities.

Grimm Fairy Tales has lots of the Grimm brothers' tales to read. There is nothing too glitzy about the stories - basically, you read text on a page surrounded by distracting ads. Still, if you want some idea of the tales, try this site. My suggestion is you then use the tales as a basis for stories you make up and share with your kids. Another one is Repeat After Us - listen to fairy tales while you read along. No bells and whistles, but copyright free.

Oneextrapixel have a great roundup of different illustrators' interpretations of fairy tale characters. These are great to use as inspiration for your children's own writing, for designing costumes for their dolls or plays, or just to share and discuss.

Storynory have a big fairy tale collection that you can read online or download and listen to as MP3. These are divided into Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Perrault, Various, Aesop and 1001 Nights. There are fairy stories within their Junior section too.

Kidoons have lots of fairy tales amongst their offerings, like Hansel and Gretel where you can read the story, text or a slightly animated version, play games, download stuff and try to ignore the blinking ads. This isn't the traditional version, but some kids may prefer it.

ABCTeach have some fairy tale printables.

Chase March has a great teaching unit on fairy tales and there's another one at Tooter4Kids. Woodlands Junior School has some useful links. There are lesson ideas at Kerpoof, and here's an online fairy tale crossword.

Let's not forget fairy tales from other cultures. You and your child might enjoy reading some together. You can find such tales via the search box at Paper Tigers, or here's a lesson on Russian Fairy Tales from Edsitement.

I found some ideas for Fairy Tale crafts at Canon.

I believe your children would love to go to Creaza to make fairy tale cartoons with Cartoonist. I made a Red Riding Hood cartoon and described the process in Cartoonist - Sharing Stories with Cartoons. I also quickly made the 1001 Nights image you see at top in about three minutes yesterday.

Storybird is another great digital story creator and although it doesn't have specifically themed illustrations, I think some of them definitely capture a fairy tale feel. You can see one of my Storybirds that is fairytale-ish below.

Princess Sophie on Storybird

There is a fairy story option at LearnEnglishKids from the British Council. This is simply a matter of choosing from a range of elements, then the story is put together for you, and presented as text which can be read aloud by a parent or printed out. There's also a cute matching activity for Red Riding Hood and you'll find other activities too.

You can listen to the audio version of Red Riding Hood or read the story yourself at ipl2.

LearnEnglishKids also has finger puppets for Red Riding Hood that can be printed out. Cute!

Songs: My Kindergarten kids loved When Goldilocks Went to the House of the Bears. It's a lovely little song with actions. You can listen to the music and find the lyrics and actions at LearnEnglishKids or watch these two cuties sing it on Youtube. Another favourite was The Three Bears Rap. and I found a different Three Bears song. Most of the Disney movies based on fairy tales have great songs associated with them.

Remember, I'm not proposing we do away with Fairy Tale books. Rather, I'm suggesting we use online resources together with carefully selected print books to maximize our children's fairy tale experiences. Add in some songs, rhymes, dress up clothes, paint and improvisation and you've got the makings of a memorable fairy tale experience.

Why not create a fairy tale party? There's a certain cherub I know with a Green Mama who's having a birthday party soon. Here are some ideas she might like.

If I were throwing a fairy tale party, I would try to keep it simple, inexpensive, safe and fun. I probably wouldn't ask kids to come in costume. In my experience, kids have more fun when they're in clothes that don't get caught in things and that are able to be thrown in the wash later. I tend to lean towards letting kids make their own fun, rather than imposing structured tasks. Here are some Book Chook ideas for activities:

Bubble blowing: I think this would be a lovely thing to do. The pretty iridescence of bubbles seems to fit the theme. You might set up an area where kids can experiment with a range of bubble blowers, or give each child their own little bubble blower. If you have time beforehand, the birthday child can help make the bubble solution and the blowers.

Decorate a castle: You know how kids usually have more fun with the box than the gift? How about going to an appliance shop or a suitable manufacturer and asking for a BIG cardboard box or two? Party guests can decorate the box with crayons, streamers, balloons, stickers, and fairy tale character portraits.

Listen to a fairy tale: Kids do need quiet time at a party. I would choose one fairy tale I like, or make one up with the children as characters in it, mentioning their names, and tell it to the kids. I would also have repeated parts the kids can join in. You could give The Three Little Pigs a touch of pantomime, and ask someone to appear as the Wolf. Tell the kids that if he suggests the pigs are hiding in a house, they should all shout out, "Oh no they aren't!"

Play with fairy tale puppets: I would definitely look out for fairy tale characters - your local Toy Library or Kindergarten class might lend you some. Set up a little theatre or just have the puppets where kids can access them and stand back to watch the creativity and fun.

Take out the dress up box: Find some lengths of material kids can use as cloaks, a cardboard sword or two, some magic wands and crowns, and some old clothes. Raid your local charity shop for inexpensive costumes from dance concerts.

Change the pace with more organized games: Try Pin the Nose on the Witch(tail/donkey), Pass the Treasure (parcel), Bobbing for Snow White's Apple or a big game of creep-ups with you as the witch. Kids need to freeze each time you turn around, or they go back to the start if you see them move (witchy nose optional.) You could also hide some cardboard cut outs of fairy tale characters and when kids find them, they can redeem them for a book prize (some you've purchased at garage sales or second hand stores.)

The cake: The Book Chook would be most likely to bake a huge square cake and let the birthday child decorate it with frosting, sweets, marshmallows, sprinkles etc. But some people aren't as lazy (or as frugal!) Here's a Fairy Village Cake.

Food: Keep it simple. I would suggest halved oranges filled with green jelly and set, then a green or chocolate frog added to make a Magic Frog Pond; cupcakes decorated ahead by the birthday child; and some tiny sandwiches or savoury morsels of some kind.

If you know any other good resources online that fit this fairy tale theme, please let me know in comments.


  1. Aww... thanks Susan! My cherub's fairytale party is next week, so I'm in the midst of sewing myself to a princess and the pea style tablecloth.

  2. The Book Chook21 January, 2011

    Ouch! I hope the party is just delightful and makes lovely memories for the cherub and her friends.

  3. Kate Coombs23 January, 2011

    What a great roundup of fairy tale resources! Thank you!

  4. The Book Chook23 January, 2011

    Kate, I found a great post on your blog with some excellent fairy tale recommendations that I hope readers will check out - Thanks for visiting!

  5. Wow - what an amazing effort you put into your posts. Fabulous. I have three girls so anything fairy rocks at our house :)

  6. The Book Chook23 January, 2011

    Thanks for the feedback, Caz! Check out Book Aunt (see my reply to Kate Coombs below) for some great fairy tale books and other excellent reviews.

  7. Planningqueen23 January, 2011

    What a fab collection of resources Susan. Jelly oranges are a fab idea - kids do love them!

  8. The Book Chook23 January, 2011

    And they look so colourful too, Nic. I think jelly is like stained glass, good for the soul!

  9. What a great post with really creative ideas for kids and adults alike! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love fairy tales - I'll never grow too old to not dream of hapily ever after:)

  10. The Book Chook29 January, 2011

    Thanks Cathy - I'm convinced that reading keeps the dream alive in all our hearts!

  11. These are wonderful fairy tale resources, fairy tales are always one of my favorite learning experiences with students. They provide opportunities for so much imagination and play learning!

  12. The Book Chook06 February, 2011

    I agree, Kelly! Imagination is such a precious gift to nurture in kids, and play is the natural vehicle kids use anyway.

  13. You have some nice free educational games options available for people to use to spend quality time with their children. Such a marvelous list of books and resorces, thanks for Sharing!

  14. Fairy tale inspired theme is still applicable even to these days actually I wrote articles about kids party and eventually most of my resource excerpt are fairy tale inspired.


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