Lesson Plan: Fairytales, Folktales and Legends Exploring Imagination

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Folktales, Fairytales and Legends: Exploring Imagination: A Six Part Series

Teach students about folktales, fairytales and legends. Students will explore the similarities and differences in each. Students will learn basic characteristics of folktales. Students will read a number of folktales, fairytales and legends. Students will read various versions of the same fairytales and folktales. Students will meet in groups and read 3 selected stories. Students will choose 1 story, analyze, discuss and read other versions of the story. Groups will work together to rewrite their own version of this story. Students will work to create a skit or puppet show of their created story.

Timeline: Students can complete the entire project in one to two weeks if working on project daily.

Prepare ahead by creating a fairytales, folktales and legends display.

Part 1: Common Elements in Fairytales/Folktales

  • Setting: Time and place are usually non descript – it can be any country or any time period. Many European tales are in the deep woods, castles or poor huts.

  • Characters: Usually very simple and divided into the good and the bad.

  • Plot: Movement of plot is usually from powerless to power; poverty to wealth.

  • Animals: Often have human-like characteristics; talk, wear clothing, etc.

  • Mnemonic Devices: Tools that help you remember something.

  • Stock Openings and Closings:Most open with “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after”.

  • Formulas: Use threes or sevens: three little pigs, three Billy goats gruff, etc.

  • Descriptions:They don’t go into detailed descriptions but use one word to describe: wicked stepmother, brave tailor

  • Tricksters: Stories contain a trickster, usually an animal and unlike the main character of either good or evil they are a mixture of good and bad.


  • Use examples from stories to further discuss.

  • Next talk with your class about the start of fairytales, folktales and legends. Discuss oral communication, entertainment pre-industrialization, etc.

  • Have students share any oral stories that have been told in their families. Use this (if they have none you should have some examples) as a point to discuss the differences between fairytales, folktales and legends. Fairytales are often created from folktales and fairytales often become folktales, Legends are usually region based. They are all overlapping and you may want to do some research to make yourself familiar with the differences and similarities.

  • Finish off this day’s lesson by reading a fairytale.

  • Discuss the elements found in that specific story.

This post is part of the series: Fairytales, Folktales and Legends

This is a six part lesson plan that explores fairytales, folktales and legends. Students learn the differences between all, where and why they originated and finally create their own tales and corresponding skit or puppet show.

  1. Fairytales and Folktales Lesson Plan: Exploring Imagination
  2. Lesson Plan: Dive In to Fairytales and Folktales
  3. Book Report Project Ideas: Discovering Fairytales with a Twist
  4. Creating Fairytales with this Fun Lesson Plan
  5. The Story Comes Alive: Creating a Skit or Puppet Show
  6. Creative Book Reports: Let the Show Begin!