“Once upon a time there were two teachers in search of a way to make fairy tales come alive for their urban students.” This is how preK and kindergarten teachers Carmen Kaemingk and Kirsten Carlson began their FFT grant application, proposing a journey along the Fairy Tale Trail in Germany, Italy and France. By researching the origins of stories by Perrault (Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella), Collodi (Pinocchio) and the Brothers Grimm, they believed they could encourage students’ imagination as an alternative to technology-driven entertainment.
Turns out, they were right — sort of.
Students now use props their teachers brought back to act out fairy tales in class, expanding their language skills and building vocabularies. This exercise has proven especially fun (and effective) for English Language Learners. Students also write and illustrate their own fairy tales and their parents attended a Fairy Tales 101 night to learn how sharing stories from their own cultures can develop literacy and language skills in their children.
The “sort of” disclaimer is because the innovative teachers are using technology to enhance the fairy tale units. By strapping on Virtual Reality headsets loaded with images taken on the fellowship, students marvel at landscapes in which the familiar stories took place. They also dictate into recording devices their own narratives, learning digital storytelling techniques.
“Our goal was to take fairy tales off the movie screen and activate our students’ imaginations through the magic of reading fairy tales,” said Carmen. “While we’re accomplishing that goal, we’re also teaching them how to tell a story in correct sequence, a necessary reading skill that builds and strengthens students’ comprehension.”
And they are all learning happily ever after.