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Lesson Plan

Once Upon a Time Rethought: Writing Fractured Fairy Tales

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Once Upon a Time Rethought: Writing Fractured Fairy Tales

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Students work together to craft a list of common fairy tale elements in order to determine what makes a fairy tale a fairy tale. They then explore and analyze a variety of tales, recording their information using a story map. The story map becomes a launching point for students' own fairy tales. Students use the characteristics of a known tale and change one of the literary elements to create a new tale, which includes a different set of characters, has a new setting, or includes a changed conflict or resolution. Finally, students publish and illustrate their new “fractured fairy tales” for others to enjoy.

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Fractured Fairy Tales Booklist: This sheet provides a list of fractured fairy tales based on the Cinderella, Goldilocks, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Pigs, and other stories.

Story Map Interactive: Use this online tool to map out the elements of students' original writing. The tool can also be used to analyze the characters, plot, and setting of a piece of literature.

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Story mapping activities, also called story grammars, are a technique for using graphic representations to explore elements of a reading working toward increased comprehension. As Margaret Foley warns in her "The (Un)Making of a Reader," however, teachers must guard against allowing story mapping to become a "self-monitoring system for story reading which inhibits [students'] potential to explore a diverse range of personal responses" (510). Pointing to Foucault, Foley explains that when story mapping becomes an unyielding framework that all must follow, we lose the opportunity to engage students with texts authentically.

In this activity, students use online story mapping to analyze fairy tales, as well as to gather and organize ideas for rewriting a fairy tale. Story mapping is part of a reading process that also includes reflection and personal rethinking of the text elements as well as part of the writing process that allows students to extend and engage the features of the stories that they explore and write. In this way, students can explore the benefits of story mapping without losing the opportunity to read and respond to texts personally.

Further Reading

Foley, Margaret M.  "The (Un)Making of a Reader." Language Arts 77.6 (July 2000): 506-511.

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