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Fairy Tales: SOL 8

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I work with gifted children in grades K-5. Part of my job is to help kids find things they are interested in and develop that interest into possible passion. We call it talent development. We go through a lot of topics and many projects involving writing, reading, math, and science. We use the internet to help us learn more. One of the things I do is assign a student to be the researcher for the day. The researcher's responsibility is to have an iPad open as we do activities and identify connections or find answers to questions that come up.

Sometimes my interests dovetail with those of my students. Right now I am slightly obsessed with how fairy tales have affected the writing of gifted children. So when one of my fourth graders asked if I would read a fractured fairy tale, I jumped at the chance. Today we began reading Liesl Shurtliff's Jack, the true story of Jack and the Beanstalk. I personally endorse the use of fairy tales as a means to understanding and enriching the classic elements of both literature and culture.
The thrill came when my day's researcher, Colin, began throwing out things as I read.
"Hey, Mrs. Moran, did you know that his great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather was a guy named Jack the Giant Killer? We should read that story."
"Oh! And Jack and the Beanstalk is like a story about how people should be happy with what they have."
"And, Mrs. Moran…"
He just kept making connection after connection. It was thrilling. These are the days I live for as a teacher.


  1. Thank you for promoting fairy tales! I do the same, especially with the parents of my G/T students who only want them to read long novels that are five grades ahead (sigh). They miss out on those literary connections when they skip the cultural basics. I'm guessing you've already read Rump by Shurtliff; Adam Gidwitz's Grimm series are wonderful, too--and a gateway to discuss the real Grimm tales.

  2. We are working with fairy tales right now in third grade and it is amazing how rich they are. Teaching at an international school adds a lot of variety to the discussions. The Sisters Grimm is another series that two of my students last year loved!

  3. You could also expose them to some of the more brutal fairy tales, depending on their readiness. Didn't Cinderella's sisters cut off their toes in the original Grimm version? Fractured fairy tales are fun. I LOVE having a student be the researcher for the day. Hmmm.

  4. Fairy Tales are essential kid reading, I think. You can dig deep with these stories. Have you read Bruno Bettelheim's "Uses of Enchantment"? Such an interesting perspective.

  5. Fairy Tales are essential kid reading, I think. You can dig deep with these stories. Have you read Bruno Bettelheim's "Uses of Enchantment"? Such an interesting perspective.

  6. Have you read "The Fairy Tale Detectives" by Michael Buckley? You and your students would enjoy it!

  7. I love the researcher of the day! They must love getting their chance at that job. Really puts them in charge of the classroom's learning. What powerful work they are doing.

  8. Fairy Tales are so important in so many ways -- I noticed middle school students missing some references or jokes in the books they are reading because they didn't read fairy tales. I love how engaged your students are in your slice --when they are engaged there is no stopping how deep their understanding can go. Enjoy!

  9. It's easy to see why this was a day you live for as a teacher! Inspiring!

  10. Oh these days really are the best! I can hear the excitement in your words!! YAY!!

  11. Absolute engagement! So great Kimberley!

  12. Loved the "researcher of the day" position. Great slice.

  13. I need a researcher of the day. Every time we have a question, they scramble to the computer. My students who read Rick Riordan love to read mythology, of course, but I need to steer them to fairy tales, too.


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