Fairy tales can captivate all learners – not just children!
It seems that as humans, we’re hard-wired to appreciate stories. There are few people who don’t feel engaged when someone says, “I’m going to tell you a story…”
For this reason, story-telling is a great tool in the classroom. Beyond the obvious practice of narrative tenses, you can also use story-telling to inspire your students to communicate effectively and to use techniques to make their stories flexible. For example, you might want students to make their endings funny, sad, or surprising in one way, or even to adapt the story into a sort of grown-up morality tale, as Roald Dahl did with Little Red Riding Hood.
I like using Little Red Riding Hood as a warmer for story writing. It’s something that most students know or remember from their childhood, which means they can predict a lot of the vocabulary – so taking part in the first activity. In fact, you’ll probably find that even the weaker students find it easy to contribute because they’re already familiar with the story, so it’s a great confidence booster.
Say to your students “I’m going to tell you a story.” Once you have their attention, start telling them the story, pausing in critical places so that they can supply the vocabulary.
“Once upon a time, there lived a little girl.”
“Where did she live?” (Elicit “in the forest / wood”)
“She lived with her …..” (elicit “mother” / “father”)
“One day, her mother said to her, “Go and visit your….” (elicit “grandmother”)
“Her mother gave her a basket to take to her grandmother. In her basket there was…” (elicit the food items – at this point you might get some national variations. My Italian students volunteered focaccia, prosciutto, and even the local sausage.)
Carry on telling the story, pausing to elicit key vocabulary.
Students write their own stories – either Little Red Riding Hood, or any other fairy tale they know. Rather than writing on their own, get them into pairs or small groups to make the process easier and quicker.
– Get students to write the entire story except for the last few sentences, then give their stories to another pair or group for completion. Was it the ending they expected?
– Students write the story in the first person, so they can give reasons for their actions and describe their feelings as they story unfolds.
– Students act out their stories after they’ve written them.