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Fairy Tale Activities for Early Learning

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Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes are some of the first literacy experiences young children have. These stories and rhymes are often told while sitting on a lap of a loved one and become favorites for years to come. These early literacy experiences are important for many reasons and are a staple of childhood. The fact is--fairy tales foster early learning.

Fairy Tale Activities for Early Learning--some great ideas and a free printable

5 Reasons Why Fairy Tales Are Good For Children

  1. Language Skills--rhyming, repetition, sequencing, and more! Fairy Tales are chocked full of literacy and language skills.
  2. Critical Thinking Skills-- Kids see the consequences of a character's decisions and naturally learn cause/effect and the importance of decision making.
  3. Emotional Development--Not only do fairy tales prepare our kids for society and making moral decisions, they teach them how to deal with conflict within themselves. Fairy tales have a strong moral lesson--a fight between good & evil, love and loss; these lessons rub off on our children.
  4. Imagination--Within fairy tales and nursery rhymes, anything is possible!
  5. Fun--Fairy tales and classic stories are just plain fun!

Close up of a stack of colorful books of Fractured Fairytales

Disclosure: Candlewick Press partnered with me for this post. They sent this colorful stack of books for free and I was compensated for my time. As always, all opinions and ideas are my own.

I love to collect different versions of fairytales, nursery rhymes, and classic stories. While we have many on our bookshelves, I'm always on the hunt for more. I recently discovered some new versions of our favorite fairy tales from Candlewick Press--most of them are fractured fairy tales with a twist on the classic story, and these picture books have inspired quite a bit of homeschool activities for fairy tales. I've found both boys returning to read the books again on their own. I snapped this photo with my phone of Asher looking at the pictures one morning while I was busy helping Jonah with a homeschool activity. His favorites are Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy TalesThe Cow Tripped Over the Moon--A Nursery Rhyme Emergency, and Interrupting Chicken--a super cute, must-read!

Reading fairy tale picture books from Candlewick Press

Interrupting Chicken from Candlewick Press--a super cute picture book for kids

As a parent with interrupting children, I totally identified with the Papa Rooster in this one! While beginning our picture walk and pointing out book details (title, author, etc.) we informally talked about the Caldecott Award on the front of this one. My kids know that silver circle means it's a winner!

Today I'm sharing ideas for how we've been using these fractured fairy tale picture books in our homeschool. Feel free to use these ideas as a starting to point have a little fairy tale fun at your house!

 Three Bears Size Sorting for Preschoolers

I pulled out a preschool sorting activity using Goldilocks and the Tree Bears for Asher. He played this over and over. I was surprised to find him already using the terms "small, medium, and large" without instruction from me. He loved the little stories I had about each item in my bag--especially the different colored craft sticks which the bear doctor uses when they are sick. This activity was easy to set up--I just gathered items in three sizes.

Three Bears Size Sorting for preschoolers

Some of my items:

  • seashells (from the Bear family beach vacation)
  • small plastic sorting worms (for the Bear family fishing trip)
  • small toy cars (everybody knows bears wish they could drive cars)
  • hand drawn bowls (for their porridge)
  • pom-poms (Bears love to cheer at Fairtale Land ballgames!)
  • envelopes (for their invitations to the Teddy Bear Picnic!)
  • mini clothespins (Poor Mama Bear has to hang up the laundry on the clothesline. Dryers are hard to come by in the forest.)

Goldilocks and the Three Bears size sort for preschoolersSorting materials for Goldilocks and The Three Bears story

After this, we read Goldilocks and Just One Bear to see what happens when Goldilocks and Baby Bear are all grown up. Also, super cute. Asher thought it was funny that the roles were reversed and Baby Bear wanders into Goldilocks' house.

Twisted Titles

Jack and the Baked Beanstalk (a funny twisted title of the classic story)

I love the play on words in the title Jack and the Baked Beanstalk! It's funny how just the addition of one word in the title can change the entire story. Can you imagine if Jack's story included baked beans?

While this is a more advanced skill than my kids were ready for, we tried to make up a few of our own...

Goldilocks and the Three Teddy Bears

The Three Little Pigs-in-a-Blanket (Yum! That twisted title makes me hungry.)

To take this a step further, you could have your child illustrate the cover of their new Twisted Title. It's an important lesson of choosing words carefully, and I think it would be a fun activity for older kids with a great sense of humor. By the way, the illustrations in this book are gorgeous.

Jack and the Baked Beanstalk illustrations

Fairy Tale Timelines & Story Sequence

Have you ever thought about what happened BEFORE the famous fairy tales began? Or what happened after the classic story was over? Fairy Tales are a great way to introduce the basic story sequence (beginning, middle, and end) or, for a more advanced learner, making a timeline of events. When you add parts to a story, that adds another layer of higher order thinking.Interactive Fairytale Books for kids

Both of my boys love reading The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood and The True Story of Goldilocks because of the interactive qualities--envelope pockets with removable notes, lift-the-flap pages, spinning parts, and pop-up pages. The stories are very clever and the illustrations are a beautiful mix of drawings and mixed media. In these stories, the usual roles of good and evil are flip-flopped, showing what happens when The Big Bad Wolf and Baby Bear undergo makeovers and Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks lose their tempers. These books always led to great discussions about making choices, reacting appropriately to others, etc. It was fun to think about what might have caused the classic stories.

Previously Fairy Tale Book

Another book we love that talks about what happened before the classic fairy tale is Previously. This book weaves the fairy tale characters together in a seamless fairy tale rewind. We thought about other scenarios for each of the characters and a few not mentioned. One burning question: What was Humpty Dumpty doing on that wall anyway?

The Wolf's Story-What really happened to Little Red Riding Hood

In The Wolf's Story: What Really Happened to Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf pleads his case and tries to convince you that he really is a nice guy that would never harm anyone--but we all know better, right? Jonah guessed that the wolf might be visiting the Three Little Pigs next. He's probably right.

Fairy Tale Alphabetical Order

One of the skills our third grader has been working on is putting words in alphabetical or ABC order. We've done several hands-on activities for this skill, but I decided to use our mixed-up fairy tale character names on an ABC Order printable. Jonah loved this! He thought it was funny that I mixed up all the characters. Since there are a few letters that have two words, this was a perfect opportunity to teach him to look at the second letter to help determine the correct word order. For example, Goldilocks/Giant and Jack/Jill.

Fairytale Character Alphabetical Order (Free Printable)

To help him stay in order, he marked off letters as he worked his way through the alphabet.  By using the characters from the books we were currently reading, Jonah was more engaged (let's face it: ABC order can be a little boring). Feel free to download this free printable to use with your child.

Click here to get the Fairytale ABC Order

Fairytale Alphabetical Order (Free Printable)

Fairy Tale Map Skills

Jonah has LOVED looking at The Once Upon A Time Map Book and practicing his map skills. The illustrations in this one are beautiful! He practiced using the following map skills: following directions using a compass rose, map quadrants, reading a map key, finding landmarks, etc. This has tied in PERFECTLY to the geography books he's already been reading and the map skills he'll be learning this year in our homeschool curriculum.

Reading fairy tale picture books for homeschool

Once Upon a Time Map Book

We're still soaking this one in, but I plan on making a few geography games and printables to use with this picture book for some upcoming map skills lessons in our homeschool. I'll be sure to share them when I do!

And, a HUGE thanks to Candlewick Press for publishing fabulous fractured fairytales!  If you’re on social media, keep up with them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or YouTube.  I especially like their Pinterest page where they’ve taken the time to categorize their book titles into learning themes!Close up of a stack of colorful books of Fractured Fairytales

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Patty Patterson

Friday 18th of September 2015

Oh, how I love fairy tales. Or - any good children's book as far as that goes. I sometimes wish the tv had never been invented. Just think how much better readers we'd all be without it and how much more work would get done. :-) I love to see children READ!