A Closer Look at a Fairy Tale

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Language Arts, Reading, Reading Comprehension, Social Studies

Grade 3- 5


Students compare the roles of male and female characters in fairy tales.


Once upon a time. . . Fairy tales have been passed down for generations. Discuss with students the elements and background of fairy tales. Fairy Tales contain elements of magic and are stories of good versus evil. Originally, fairy tales were passed on by women as a way to teach lessons to children about life and behavior. Later, the tales were written down by people like the Grimm Brothers to share as entertainment and as a study of folklore. Authors like Hans Christian Andersen wrote new tales to share with people.
Ask students to think of their favorite fairy tales. Choose one to discuss with the class. Ask students to describe the characters, who they are and how they act. See if they can identify the lesson or moral of the fairy tale. Lead the class into a discussion of how fairy tale lessons apply to society today.
Although some of the lessons taught in fairy tales are still important, many of the lessons are no longer valued in modern society. For example, many fairy tales tell the story of a beautiful but helpless woman who needs to be rescued by magic, or by a man. Today, women and girls are encouraged to be more independent.
Discuss with students the idea that although many fairy tales still contain valuable lessons, it is important to think about the messages in the tales and consider whether or not they are relevant in modern life.
Distribute copies of the A Closer Look at a Fairy Tale activity page. Tell them that they will read a version of the fairy tale (as a class or individually). On the activity page, they identify the roles of the male and female characters as well as the messages and lessons they find in the story. When the students have finished, have a class discussion about what was discovered.


  • any version of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood
  • A Closer Look at a Fairy Tale activity page
  • pencil or pen

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