Cinderella stories are exciting for students of all ages. This teaching unit is well-designed, uses cultural variants of the Cinderella story, and is kid tested for fun (and teacher approved!).
These stories provide an opportunity to go in-depth with cultural literacy, which is a standard for my grade level (second). But what does that mean?
develop two types of schemata throughout our lives: formal schemata
and content schemata. Formal schemata is understanding how a reading
text is organized, and content schemata is about the content of the
In other words, formal is about the pure mechanics of reading - decoding, text structure, etc, but content deals with actually making meaning (a top-down approach resulting in meta-cognition).
The great thing about Cinderella stories is that the children already have the background knowledge necessary to understand the structure of the story. They can use that to build cultural literacy on - information about the people, places, events and ideas that are important in different societies.
The story of Cinderella is captivating for all students (even the boys once they realize there are boy-friendly versions!)..
The first known account of this fairy tale is from ancient China, and it actually started out as a folk tale.
In the first writing by Tuan Ch'eng in the 9th century A.D., it had all the elements of classic Chinese folktales, including a magical fish who help Yeh-Shen.
It is certainly nicer than the Brothers Grimm version that followed. In that one the evil stepsisters had their eyes poked out as retribution for their treatment of Ash Girl!
Many variants of Cinderella stories exist but they all carry common elements:
What makes these stories fascinating to use in any classroom is how they provide opportunities for culture studies, geography, text interaction, social issues - all very deep topics for young students.
Prior to teaching the Cinderella unit, I always do a fairy tale study with my students. You can get the free download at Primary Education Oasis Teaching Resources.
After this unit (which prepares them extremely well for understanding how a fairy tale is written, what the elements are in different tales, and exposes them to cultural variations of the same fairytale), they are ready for...
This will be one of the best units you teach all year!
When I started this with my class, they absolutely could not wait to get their hands on the different Cinderella stories!
What will you find in the unit?
Even the boys love it. Just make sure to read aloud "manly versions" of the fairy tale where really bad things happen to the evil step-sisters!