Teaching Classic Fairy Tales in Preschool: Three Ideas
Hansel and Gretel
Many fairy tales contain a message that is easily applicable to preschool students. The message in Hansel and Gretel is no exception: Never wander off alone. Before reading the story, talk about how to stay safe in public areas – staying close to a parent or another adult, using the buddy system, and always staying with the group. Then read the story, asking short questions as you go to make sure that the children understand what they have heard. You may wish to use a less violent form of the story for more sensitive listeners.
After listening to Hansel and Gretel, you may wish to build a class gingerbread house. Bring in a large box from an appliance, such as a refrigerator or washing machine. Design the gingerbread house with students, making sure to use various types of foods – and not just treats! Think about adding saltine shutters to the windows, an apple doorknob, or spaghetti smoke coming out of the chimney. Then use various art supplies, such as posterboard, markers, or ribbons to create the house. Let the kids’ imaginations run wild!
The Ugly Duckling
Before reading this story, discuss the main theme: even if people don’t appreciate how special you are, always remember that you are indeed special. Talk about how mean the other ducklings were, and discuss several nice things that they might have said instead. Discuss with kids the importance of the words that we say, and how you can change person’s day for the better with a happy word.
Use this art project to show kids how something that seems ugly can actually be beautiful. Have kids use crayons to color all over cardstock. Make sure that they cover the cardstock entirely so that no white is showing. Then give them black tempura paint (mixed with a tiny drop of dish detergent) to apply over their drawings, and let the paint dry. Show them how they can scratch the paint off, leaving behind a colorful mark. They can use either their fingernail or a toothpick to create their scratch art. Discuss with them how the project shows that they cannot always judge people by appearances.
Little Red Riding Hood
You can use Little Red Riding Hood to teach about stranger danger, but you can also use it to teach about the importance of helping others. Little Red Riding Hood brought a basket full of goodies to her grandma to make her grandma feel better. Encourage this giving spirit in your own preschoolers by helping them to create cards for other kids who are in a local hospital, or by creating care packages for a student in the school who is sick.
These fairy tale lesson plans for preschool will help kids connect these classic stories to their own lives. Make sure to encourage their creativity in each of these activities.