Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fairy Tale Unit

These are the two fairy tale collections we've been reading from. I strongly recommend the one on the left. The pictures are beautiful and there are more illustrations. The one on the right is good as well, but it's a little more difficult for ED to follow.

**One thing I didn't think to add when I first wrote this post was that we LOVE LOVE LOVE the stories read by Natasha at storynory.com.  You can listen to them free online or you can download them (free) and burn them onto a CD to listen in the car (or wherever) as we do.  It is an AMAZING website (and I love Natasha's voice). I feel like most people must know about it, but if not -- check it out! She has a huge selection of fairy tales, plus Greek myths, Oscar Wilde, Alice in Wonderland, Bible stories, Knights of the Round Table and more.

After reading this story, I taught the kids to braid (a skill we never tackled before) just as Rapunzel's hair was braided for the witch to climb up. LD eventually caught on fairly well. It was harder for DD.  I thought we might do a craft where Rapunzel peaks out of the top of the tower/paper towel roll with her braid draping down the tower.  It was too busy at the end of the week last week, though.

Hansel and Gretel
After reading this story, we decided to make our own a bread crumb trail. We let some time go by just as Hansel and Gretel had to wait for their father and step-mother. Then we tried to find our bread crumb trail and realized just how hard it is  since the bread blends in so well with the leaves, stones and other forest debris.

It took a lot of hunting, but we finally found one lone breadcrumb out in the woods (next to the leaf).  No wonder Hansel and Gretel had such a tough time out there!

The Three Little Pigs Puppet Show
Followed by lots of new fairy tale performances put on by the kids!  In LD's version the knights had a long extended battle!

We've talked about where these fairy tales originated (mostly from England and Germany) and we've been locating them on our map of Europe.  I printed out an outline map from activity village one day to color in some of the countries. We've also been playing a geography game of Europe, but it's such a good game I'll make another separate posting about that.


  1. Love this! I have adored fairy tales since I was a little girl and still love them now. I looked at the book you suggested on Amazon, but it doesn't list what stories are in it. Would you mind letting me know? Also, are they the "actual" tales or watered-down retellings? Thanks so much. :)

  2. Hi Nicole,

    The Classic Children's Stories are retold versions of Andersen and Grimm's tales. The stories include The Little Mermaid, The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Nutcracker, Cinderella, Peter and the Wolf, Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, The Emperor's New Clothes, Snow White, The Night Before Christmas, The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

    The other book I have (The Children's Treasury) has 48 Fairy Tales, plus Aesop's Fables and Nonsense Verses. I've had to use this about half the time since the other book has so few tales, comparatively. Since there are so many more tales, there are fewer illustrations per story and the illustrations are smaller (rather than full size as in the other book). According to the introduction (of The C.T), "The rhymes and stories in this book come from traditional sources, brought up to date, where necessary while still keeping to the oral tradition of story telling."

    I would say that the first book has slightly simpler vocabulary and gorgeous illustrations. The vocabulary of the second book is slightly more sophisticated. Here's a random sentence from Cinderella from the Children's Treasury: "Her sisters knew her at once. Filled with astonishment, mingled with no little alarm, they threw themselves at her feet, begging her pardon for all their former kindness." -- So, it's just a bit more sophisticated than some of the Disney version we have lying around which is why I've chosen to use these versions.

    The teacherfilebox has versions of these stories but they are overly-simplified because the richness of the vocabulary. There are probably good collections of Andersen and Grimm's tales but to be honest I didn't look through those. I just used the collections we've had for ages.

    Oh, but on another note, I have the Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (that my Mom bought for me in England when I was around 10-12). These tales are probably closer to the "original" and I read one story, but it was still too difficult for my 5 year old -- and completely beyond my 3 year old because of the language style. Nonetheless, they have the original endings... which are completely different than the Disney renditions!!

    One final thing that I didn't add to this post is that we've also been listening to Natasha do her readings of these stories at storynory.com. It's an awesome, wonderful free site filled with such a huge selection of children's stories. I burned CDs and we listen to them in the car daily.

    Hope that helps,

  3. Thanks so much for all of the information! I have a fairy tale book coming soon in the mail; once it comes I'll have to compare the stories and see if we have any gaps. I'm such a sucker for good illustations! We don't read any of the Disney versions, so have been introducing the age-appropriate tales very slowly. Thanks again! :)

  4. Hi Nicole,

    I was reading from The Children's Treasury at lunch this afternoon -- and guess what??? I noticed that these stories were taken from The Blue, Red and Yellow Fairy books. I hadn't realized that when I wrote you back this morning. But the language is not nearly as antiquated as the version (of the Blue Fairy Book) that I have from my Mom. We read a strange story today (The Tale of a Youth who Set Out to Learn what Fear Was)... and both LD and DD enjoyed it. We had a long discussion about it since it was quite a strange tale.
    Kind regards,