IV.4 - Some more tools

The possibilities that we have in order to introduce fairy tales / folktales in the classroom are numerous. Here we present some of them.

1.1       Innovative narration based on objects

We will ask the group, students, and participants etc. to bring one or two or more objects that mean something to them. Memory objects are ideal, especially a childhood or one from a parent, grandparent, something old or new. Objects might seem simple and everyday but… they have the power… the mystery to create a story and even more so trigger a memory.

This could be described as a lesson plan related to narration and it always works very well with diverse and special social groups and helps participant’s interactivity and bonding.

Phase A

The teacher divides the group in smaller groups of 3-4-5 and they place their objects all together.  These can be: old photos, a box, a match box, a glove, a souvenir, a tin box, a stone, a toy, and many more depending on who brings them and their fantasy and creativity.

Alternatively, the teacher could have some objects and give them to the groups randomly.

Phase B

The goal is for each group to observe the objects for some minutes and then start creating a story. Naming characters and places and they can be connected and become a fairy tale, a myth. They can take notes and write it down whatever is more helpful. It needs to have a beginning, action, crescendo and an ending.

Phase C

Each group will read it / narrate it when ready to the rest of the classroom, group etc. They can do it personally or in groups, to narrate stories they have created, whatever the Teacher feels is more suitable.

Phase D (advanced)

The students / participants can act on an improvised scenario made by themselves and make short theatre performances. When the group (classroom or not) becomes familiar with such activities and procedures, the teacher can direct the action on more specific goals like special cognitive and lesson subjects. For example, this can be applied for Literature, History, Geography and more. The Teacher can choose a specific piece and which objects and elements and direct the making of the story/narration to teach a specific theme.

1.2       Narration and creation of a story with the guidance of the teacher and the active participation of the students

Phase 1: The process can begin with a short action based on trust and get-to know-each-other exercises (10 min duration). A basic condition would be that the students are from the same class and know each other. In the case they do not, this first phase can last longer and involve more activities to achieve trust and bonding for a better collaboration between them.    

Phase 2: The teacher begins to narrate a story (original, made up and organized beforehand), based for a certain object of knowledge, that is a specific lesson to which it will return and be completed by the end of the class. The narration remains unfinished. 

Phase 3: The teacher divides the classroom into groups and asks the children to work upon the unfinished story and create a common ending all together.

Besides the above mentioned benefits 1,2,3,4 that can be applied and after the teacher listens to the proposed ending by the groups, can go on to teach the lesson i.e. addition or subtraction.

An example for Math: For example, the story has a milkman for a hero that goes around the village/town/city and distributes the milk. The milkman has 4 children that help him with his work. Every day, after they leave his shop, they go into 4 directions towards the North, the South, the East and the West to distribute the milk.  

What is happening a=towards the North, b=towards the South, c=towards the East and d=towards the West of the city?

Teachers can here divide the class into 4 groups, give the students 15 minutes of time to imagine the development of the story of the 4 helpers to the 4 directions.

Phase 4: Presentation of the 4 stories from the 4 groups of students that will give their own version of the plot and the adventure that took place at the 4 points of the horizon of the city by the 4 children of the milkman.

Phase 5: Dialogue and educational process of the mathematics class with questions and answers from all. 

                I.e. if in the shop there were 40 cases with 10 bottles of milk in each one. And the milkman gave each of his children 8 cases to distribute:

                1. How any bottles did each child take?  (80)

                2. How many bottles did all the children together, take? (360)

                3. How many cases were left in the shop? (8)

                4. How many bottles stayed in the shop? (80)

The questions can vary in numerous ways, can be many easier or more difficult according to the level of the classroom. 

1.3       Narration and creative use of traditional fairy tales, coming from the homelands of the students in multicultural schools

Phase 1: Collection of stories

The teacher asks from the children to bring in writing, a story they know from their country. To ask from their parents or grandparents to tell them a story, to write and bring to class.  So, the class acquires and collects a small treasure, a collection of stories to be used in various ways (educational, creative, artistic and from which many activities can be created: theatre games, aesthetics, short drama sketches and performances).

Phase 2                : Narration by each student, of the story they brought from home to their other classmates

                Α. Enhancement of the activity with questions from all to the young narrator – dialogue.

                Β. The narration can evolve into a drawing activity with images deriving from the story we all heard. Furthermore, an exhibition of all the works created, in class or in the school.

                C. Narrating again the story collectively, where the children narrate part or whole of the story, alone or in groups.

Benefit 1

a. The teacher can directly take advantage and make a language class with the students, focusing on certain words, writing them on the blackboard and inviting the students to find explanation and accordance of these words to their own language. 

b. Analysis of grammar and syntactic characteristics of their language with the language of the hosting country. I.e. the adjective is placed behind the noun or does precedes it?

c. Etymologically or word history: Is there any common characteristics in the sound and the musicality of their words with ours. The similarities are amazing if we manage to escape the surface of things. Let’s take as an example the names of the countries. Spain, Espana as it is called, is pronounced as such because it has (or had in the past) many forests and the myth says one was the home of God Panas. So we go to (Es in Greek mean to) Pana, Es-Pana. Germany is called Deutschland. The first part is Deus (God) and the second Land that means Earth (las=stone-earth).  The Asian continent took its name from the brother of Ecuba Asio, who was killed by Aias the Telamonius during the Trojan war.  

Benefit 2            

The stories of the students can become – with the according process – a basis for lessons such as geography history, environment, civic education or religion. 

Benefit 3            

Movement and improvisation inside the classroom. A story many times involves a voyage from one country to another and can be very easily develop in an improvisation voyage from one corner of the classroom to the other, travelling over mountains (of desks) tunnels  (under the desks) and other creative obstacles such as chairs or backpacks.

Benefit 4            

Artistic activities. A story or many together can end up and create a text or a scenario for a performance for all the class that can be presented to the other classes or the whole school or an event that will include students, teachers and parents.  

1.4       The puzzle of the lesson

A reconstruction activity can take place in the frame of the lesson. If the lesson and the topic is convenient the teacher can divide it into sections, and each group of students can receive one section. After they have been read as a group and collected in again, the students have to retell their sections from memory and form new groups later on. The aim of the activity is to recreate the story, find the right order of sections and compare the results with the original story.

1.5       Strips with sentences

If the lesson is the language, a discussion of the pictures before reading the folktale also helps to introduce the language needed for the story. By preparing strips with sentences that summarize the tale, the students have to put them in the correct order, while the teacher recounts it orally or reads it out aloud. On the other hand, the students can create a story from the strips (ambiguous strip story), then share their versions with the class and compare it to the original story. In case of multicultural classes, this exercise can be made by asking the students to name the strips in their languages. This increases the multicultural understanding in the classroom.

1.6       Pictures tell a story

Another language learning approach is the discussion of story pictures. To do this the teacher can gather appropriate pictures from various sources and make the illustrated folktale of the lesson. This form is good for lessons like history, art, civilization etc where the teacher can easily find pictures.
The student can participate by telling each other what they think. Depending on the grade, the teacher can also prepare questions link with the pictures, that help formulate an answer. It is also possible to leave out the last few pictures, so that there is more opportunity for creativity.