“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” - Neil Gaiman, Coraline
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All cultures have fairy tales they pass onto children. Fairy tales are an important part of childhood and the way people in the past taught children important lessons. All fairy tales begin with the famous phrase "Once upon a time ...," have a hero and villain, have magical elements, and end with happily ever after. Vladimir Propp, in his book, Morphology of the Folktale, outlines 31 steps that most fairy tales follow. I have listed these steps and more in my presentation below, Once Upon a Time! Teaching with Fairy Tales.
- According to Vladimir Propp there are 6 major characters in fairy tales- the hero, false hero, villain, dispatcher, helper and donor.
- Elements found in fairy tales-
- Once upon a time …
- Fantasy and make believe
- Enchanted settings
- Patterns & numbers
- The problem or conflict
- The climax
- Resolution or denouement
- Happy ever after
- The universal lesson
- Common Motifs- Talking animals/objects, traveler’s tale, the poor wins, human strengths and weaknesses, trickster, word games, guardians, monsters, quests, impossible tasks, gluttony vs starvation, sleep, good vs evil, young vs old, magic words/phrases, and keys/passes
Bookmarks and Lesson Plans
- Campbell, M. (2013). The Bare-Bones Structure of a Fairy Tale. https://malcolmsroundtable.com/2013/06/15/the-bare-bones-structure-of-a-fairy-tale
- Cisneros, T. (2008). Elements of a Fairy Tale Story. http://penandthepad.com/elements-fairy-tale-story-8429713.html
- Dipple, S. (2009). Characteristics of Fairy Tales. http://k5chalkbox.com/characteristics-of-fairy-tales.html
- Gokturk, V. (2016). Elements Found in Fairy Tales. http://www.surfturk.com/mythology/fairytaleelements.html
- Schulze, P. (2018). Lesson Plan: Fairy Tales from Life. http://readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/fairy-tales-from-life-42.html
- Truby, D. (2014). 10 Fairy Tale Lesson Plans That Are Learning Magic. http://weareteachers.com/fairy-tales-gone-wild-10-creative-ways-to-teach-fairy-tales-2