February 26th is National Fairy Tale Day! Tell a Fairy Tale Day is all about exploring myths and stories, old and new. What were once oral histories, myths, and legends retold around the campfire or by traveling storytellers have been written down and are now known as today’s fairy tales?
Old fairy tales were told to either make children behave, teach a lesson, or to pass the time. Today many of the old fairy tales have been either pushed to the side or rewritten to make more appropriate for children. Some believe that fairy tales are an extended twist of the truth and were changed not to reveal the real characters of the story.
Fairy tales in the preschool classroom can be so much fun, especially if you get into it. There are so many things that you can do to make this happen. Each center of the class can become a part of a fairy tale or represent many different ones. The block center can become the story of The Three Little Pigs, The book area can become Beauty and the Beast, The dramatic play area could become Cinderella, and the science area can become Princess and the Frog. You can display the books with decorating the space in the themes of the book. Add items like levels and construction hats to the block area to make it more lifelike of the Three Little Pigs.
You could do a dress-up day and dress up as your favorite character day or each day be a special day. Bring dress up clothes in and allow them to be different characters in the book. Have your class make their own fairy tale story as a group and then make the book public for the whole school. , and you can write the words. You could talk about the times when the story was set in and what that world looked like. What did the houses look like, what did school look like, what did children’ lives look like.
One activity that I have seen done is an ice castle. This is where the teacher put glitter in an ice tray and made glitter ice, and the children built an ice castle from the ice.
Another activity is allowing the children to make crowns out of paper plates. This is a cute idea after you read a story about a prince and princess and then they can be one as they make their crowns.
Read jack and the beanstalk and allow children to make the beanstalk with Jack and then retell the story and let them act it out as you read.
One of the biggest things that I see for teachers that can illuminate any engagement what so ever from the children is the reading of a teacher. The very first words that come out of your mouth will determine if a child is going to be engaged or not. I have done a lot of observations that I have been so bored that I could only imagine how the children felt. If I can’t pay attention as an adult how would I even expect the children to do so? So I thought that this would be a great time to give some pointers on making reading fun!
1. Pick a story that will interest the children in the classroom. If the children are not interested and it is appropriate for their age level, then they will lose interest very quickly. Right now my daughter is in love with the Little Mermaid and Rapunzel. So what do you think we read about for at least one of the stories out of the two that we read each night. That’s ok cause that will quickly change. Her interest change all of the time and that is ok. Repetition is great for young children, and it helps them be able to remember what happened in the story.
2. Read the story before you read it to the children. This does two things. One, you won’t be surprised if there is something in the story that is not appropriate to read to the children and you can choose a more appropriate story. Two, you will know the story and be able to annunciate and animate ahead of time the parts of the story that needs to be enhanced. This will help the children to stay engaged. The less that you have to pay attention to the words on the page the more one on one eye contact you have with the children which helps them to stay engaged.
3. Be animated. Make the story come to life with your voice. If you as the reader are monotone and do not make it interesting, then none of the children are going to be interested either.
4. Make props for the book and allow the children to be a part of the storytelling process. You can allow one or two of them to do it at a time or make a whole class prop so that they can all be apart of the story at once. Do a little of both. This will allow children to listen as well as be a part of what is going on. Remember that some children may need a little bit more time to process than others so allowing them to hear the story multiple times before they get to come up may help them be able to stay on track with the story.
5. Have fun and read plenty. Make reading a part of your daily routine several times a day. Children get very little reading some times at home that it is imperative that they get a wealth of time to do so at school. This will allow children to see the value in reading and carry it to home even. It increases cognitive skills and encourages a safe way to relax and be engaged.