A Literature Unit on The Emperor's New Clothes for Early Elementary Students

A Literature Unit on The Emperor's New Clothes for Early Elementary Students
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New Clothes for the Emperor

Have your students explore a classic story while learning new vocabulary words, practicing measurement and other math skills, writing their own stories and creating fun art projects.

Literature and Vocabulary

Select words that you think your students might find unfamiliar or use this vocabulary download. Provide the list for students for the following activities.

  • Allow students to work together to sort the words into groups. Students may create whatever groupings they choose, as long as they can explain their thinking in doing so.

  • Still working in small groups, ask students to use the context of the story to guess what the definition of each word will be. They should report their predictions in a chart that includes the word, the possible definition and the part of the story they used to decide on a definition.

  • Give students manila shipping tags to use for making study cards. They will also need two binder rings, in different colors, if possible.

On the front of the tag, students write the vocabulary word, the part of speech as the word is used in the story, a non-verbal reminder of the word, a synonym and an antonym. On the back of the card, students copy the dictionary definition, write their own paraphrase of the definition and use the word in a sentence that shows their understanding of the word. As students study the words, they make a tally mark on the card when they correctly define the word or identify the word after reading the definition. When the card has 10 marks, students move it to the “Words I’ve Mastered” ring.

  • Extend the lesson by allowing students to use the words to make a crossword puzzle or to write a short story.

Literature and Comprehension

Allow students to use stamp pads to make thumbprint comic strips to retell the story. They should include a minimum of three panels--one for beginning, middle and end.
  • Ask students to write questions on index cards, with the answers on the back of the card. Duplicate the cards and allow small groups to use them to play board games; players must correctly answer the question before moving according to the game rules.

Literature and Math

Provide students with the following word problems.

  • How many coats did the Emperor have if he wore a different one every hour of the day and had a different set for each day of the week? How many if he had a different set for every day of the year?

  • How many different outfits the Emperor can make if he has x coats, y trousers and z mantles?

  • If one coat takes a yards of fabric and b yards of fur, how much is needed for c coats? (Extend this problem by adding a price per yard for the fabric and fur, listing notions and prices and asking students to calculate the cost of a coat or a number of coats.)

Literature and Science

Mix baking soda and water in equal parts. Students “paint” clothes on the shape of a person with the soda mixture and cotton swabs. When the pictures are dry, allow students to heat the drawings with an embossing gun or hair dryer.

Extend the lesson by allowing students to write messages to the emperor with their invisible ink.

Literature and Art

  • Recycle wooden picture frames and old socks to weave the emperor some cloth. Drive small, headed nails about 1 inch apart all around the frame, from which you have removed the glass. Cut the socks into 1/4-inch loops. Hook the loops around the nails on opposite sides of the frame. Weave more loops under and over the loops in the other direction and hook them on the nails perpendicular to the original loops. When the cloth is finished, pull the first loop in one corner off the nail and place it over the loop on the nail next to it. Pull the loop that was on that nail over the top of the new loop and place it on the next nail.

    Weave the emperor some new fabric.

    Continue this all the way around the frame. Remove the cloth from the frame; use it as a hot pad.

Younger children can also weave their own “cloth,” using construction paper strips.

  • Provide students with templates of a paper doll shape and remnants of fabric, scrapbook paper, yarns and fibers, beads, glitter and other craft materials. Allow them to create clothes for their emperor paper dolls.

This literature unit for The Emperor’s New Clothes will provide a fun exploration of literature, vocabulary, math, science and art for your students.


Find copies of the story at these sites.




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