English Key Stage 3
Ask the children to work in pairs to list as many fairytales as they can. Share results verbally, then ask students to complete the ‘Ticklist of popular fairytales‘ pdf.
Based on this PDF ask the children to identify the main features of a fairytale. These should include: being set in the past ‘Once upon a time’, prince/princess, enchanted setting, magical elements, fantasy creatures, clearly defined good/evil characters and often a happy ending.
Write a 200 word summary of your favourite fairytale from memory, ensuring you include all the main features above.
What are the origins of the fairytale genre?
Encourage a class discussion about where modern fairytale stories come from. Folklore and legend? Did people tell stories prior to the invention of paper and books? Was there an oral tradition of storytelling across the world, passing stories to the next generation? Do any children know the names of fairytale authors? Perhaps Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen?
What are the origins of the Cinderella/Cendrillon fairytale and the opera? Find the similarities and differences between adaptations of the story.
Explain that the Brothers Grimm wrote a version of this story, called ‘Aschenputtel,’ in 1812. However, the version of the story we know best today (which inspired the 1950s Disney animated film) was written by French author, Charles Perrault. It is called Cendrillon and was written over 320 years ago, in 1697.
Explain that the opera being performed at Glyndebourne was written by Jules Massenet and is based on Perrault’s story.
Ask the students to research the plot of Cendrillon and make a table in their books of similarities and differences between the 1950s Disney cartoon and Glyndebourne/ Massenet/ Perrault versions.
Teacher notes: Similarities: The pumpkin, the godmother, and the glass slipper. Differences: character names, magic wood/oak tree and Cinderella’s near death experience.
Delve deeper into the story of Cendrillon. Read a translation of Perrault’s story and write a list English/French translated words, such as: fairy godmother, glass slipper, prince charming etc.
Why are there so many versions of the same story?
Ask children to search online for picture books based on the story of Cendrillon.
Teacher notes: Korean Cinderella, Egyptian Cinderella, Cinderella: A Princess of the Moors, Chinese Cinderella, Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella and the Brothers Grimm Germanic Cinderella.
Q: Why did a French fairytale become such a popular story that has been adapted over 300 times across the world?
A: The power of the fairytale genre
Ask the class to work in teams and verbally recall the main features of a fairytale. These should include: being set in the past ‘Once upon a time’, prince/princess, enchanted setting, magical elements, fantasy creatures, clearly defined good/evil characters and often a happy ending as discussed in lesson one.
Each team should select one of the Cinderella stories identified in the starter activity to research. Ask each team to write, then verbally recount/present their tale of Cinderella. Ask the teams to focus on what makes each version different. For example in China’s ‘Yeh-Shen’ folktale, the fairy godmother is replaced by a fish!
Delve deeper. Research the character profiles from Cendrillon on the Education section of Glyndebourne’s website.
Why does each tale seem to have a twist?
Show children the trailer for the latest version of the Cinderella story produced by Disney.
Discuss which of the main features of the fairytale genre can be identified and how each of the following characters is consistent or inconsistent with fairytale expectations: kind Cinderella, the wicked stepmother, the ugly step sisters, a charming prince and magical fairy godmother. What might happen if one of these characters did not conform to these stereotypes?
The result would be a twisted fairytale.
Show children a fractured fairytale, based on Cinderella, where she sells pots and pans to the prince.
Discuss the differences: step sisters being popular cleaners, Cinderella given pots and pans to sell by the fairy godmother, prince is poor etc.
Ask children to choose one of the following to change in the story of Cinderella, in order to plan their own fractured fairytale: the setting, the character’s personalities, the problem, the solution, the ending or by writing from another character’s point of view.
To write a playscript for your fractured fairytale, then cast and perform it with the members of the class.
Image credits: Cinderella (Cendrillon), Tour 2018, photos by Richard Hubert Smith