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New Teachers New York:
Lesson Plans by New Teachers, For New Teachers
Genre study of the Cinderella story

Purpose:

This is a language arts activity practiced during a 90-minute literacy block.
Students read different versions of the Cinderella fairy tale.

Objective: 

This lesson will address literature standards by demonstrating their reading and comprehension skills through comparing and contrasting different interpretations of the same story. 

Materials:

  • Books - Disney's Cinderella, The Rough Face Girl, Yeh-Shen, and Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters.
  • Large chart paper or white board.

Procedure:

Before reading each story, we made a KWL chart 

K What do we know about Cinderella? 
W What do we think will happen? 
L What have we learned? 

We began answering K and W, so the children would later be able to refer to this information. 

  1. We began with Disney's Cinderella, because I thought that the children would be most familiar with it. After reading, we made character webs that described each character's attributes. 

  2. The second book I read to the class was The Rough Face Girl, a Native American tale similar to Cinderella. We created another character web for each character and talked about the book. 

  3. We used Venn diagrams to compare characters in order to help the class with their final assignment. We compared Disney's Cinderella character to the Native American The Rough Face Girl. The differences between the two characters' went to the edge of the diagram, and their similarities were highlighted in the center. Some differences that were apparent were the environment, Cinderella's hidden beauty behind ragged clothes vs. Rough Face Girl's hidden beauty behind a burned face. Common factors we discovered were that both Cinderella and Rough Face Girl have mean sisters, they were both initially sad, and both girls eventually experience a happy ending. 

  4. The third book in the study was called Yeh-Shen, which is a Chinese version of Cinderella. After reading this book, we made yet another character web. By this time, the children really began to see the similarities and differences among the stories, and we talked about these various traits. The children first noticed the differences among the characters, but they soon began to identify similarities. I asked questions that further encouraged this type of critical thinking. I asked, "From our character webs, what can we tell about Yeh-Shen?" and "What are similar traits that all three characters share?" 

  5. The final book in the study was Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, an African version of the story, involving two sisters and a father. 

Final Activity: 

I had students fill out a comparison chart that I created for all four books. The chart was divided into four sections, one for each book. Beside each character's name, the children wrote two corresponding attributes. The children wrote a paragraph about which book was their favorite and why. We returned to the KWL chart and answered L (What have we learned?) as a group. 

Evaluation:

These assignments went into their writing portfolios as one of their demonstrated responses to literature. 

 

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