Most adult enjoy reading fairy tales to their children. What better way to relive their own childhood! From the Three Bears to Cinderella, these stories have captured imaginations for centuries. Besides being able to answer trivia questions when they are adults, fairy tales actually offer many unique learning opportunities for young children.
Language Skills – Listening to fairy tales can introduce young children to many new words and phrases, such as, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff or “someone’s been eating my porridge”.
Math Skills – The Three Bears is filled with opportunities for learning size discrimination and from the Three Billy Goats Gruff, children can learn position concepts, such as; first, second and third.
Cultural Awareness – The beauty of fairy tales is that they are often about different times and cultures. Another important fact is that many stories are enjoyed around the world with slight variations.
Dramatic Skills – Children love acting out these interesting yet simple stories.
Imagination Skills – Reading or telling fairy tales provides a great opportunity for children to develop their imagination skills.
Cooking Skills – Expanding story time with simple cooking projects, helps children remember the story plots better, plus increasing their cooking skills.
Reading fairy tales from beautifully illustrated books is a wonderful experience for young children, however don’t forget or underestimate the value of just telling these stories to your children. First of all, when you tell the story, you can adapt the story to the age and attention span of your child. Second, children need oral stories to help them develop their visual imaginations.
Below you will find activities based on fairy tales that you can do with your children aged 2-6. To start, I have listed my favorite learning Fairy Tales and grouped them by age introduction.
The Three Little Pigs
The Three Bears
The Three Little Kittens
The Gingerbread Man
The Little Red Hen
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
The City Mouse and the Country Mouse
The Elves and the Shoemaker
The Tortoise and the Hare
Little Red Riding Hood
Hansel and Gretel
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Princess and the Pea
COOKING UP A STORM (Ages 3-6)
A great rainy day project is to read a story and then do a related cooking project. Some examples would be:
- Read the Gingerbread Man and make gingerbread cookies with your children.
- Read Stone soup and make vegetable (Stone) soup.
- Read Little Red Riding Hood and make your favorite cookies.
- Read Little Red Hen and use packaged bread sticks to bake small loaves of bread.
- Read the Tortoise and the Hare and make snack turtles.
- Recipe below
Snack Turtles: Cover a round cracker with peanut butter or cream cheese. Have your child place a walnut half or a prune in the middle of the cracker and then place raisins around it represent a head and four legs of the turtle.
MAKING BRIDGES (3-5)
Have your child help you find things in your home with which you can make a bridge. Help your child act out the Three Billy Goats Gruff story by “tripping across the bridge. Take turns being the troll.
THREE BEARS DINNER (4-6)
Give your child dishes, glasses and silverware in three sizes. Have him sort the items by small, medium and large and make three place settings.
SHOE STORE (3-6)
Before or after reading the story the Elves and the Shoemaker, set out various pairs of shoes for your child. Mix up the shoes and have her sort them to find the ones that go together. Next, have her set up a shoe store and help her make price tags for each pair of shoes. Then using play money, play store with her taking turns being the shopper and the shoe store clerk.
OPPOSITES (Ages 3-6)
You can often find examples of opposites in Fairy Tales. Such as:
- Fast/Slow – The Tortoise and the Hare
- Big/Little – The Three Bears & The Three Billy Goats Gruff
- Up/Down – Henny Penny, Jack and the Beanstalk and the Three Little Pigs
- Country/ City – The City Mouse and the Country Mouse
Take advantage of these times and increase your child’s vocabulary and understanding of things that are opposites.
FAIRY TALE CROWNS (Ages 3-6)
Children love making and wearing crowns. To make one, you will need a large piece of paper 5” x 22”. Using scissors, scallop the top of the paper with rolling hills or spiked mountains. Let your child decorate the crown with marking pens, stickers, paper flowers, or craft store bling. When your child is finished decorating the crown, place it around your child’s head and secure in place with tape.
GINGERBREAD MEN (Ages 3-6)
Cut out a large gingerbread shape from a grocery sack and give it to your child. Set out small buttons, rick-rack, felt and paper shapes, ribbons, small dried flowers, plus a bottle of white glue. When dry, hang up the Gingerbread Man (or Woman). Read the story of the Gingerbread Man.
ONCE UPON A TIME (Ages 4-6)
Encourage your child to make up her own Fairy Tales. For children who need help, you could place pictures or small objects into a bag and then let your child put them out one at a time and incorporate them into a story.
Example: Once upon a time there was a princess who (child pulls out a picture of a car) went for a ride in her car (child pulls out a picture of Disneyland) and drove all the way to Disneyland (child pulls out a picture of a watermelon) where she ate lots of watermelon.