Fractured Fairy Tales

Language Arts

Students will use familiar characters, plots, and settings from traditional fairy tales to create "fractured" versions, while experimenting with satire, irony and parody.

The first two little pigs in "The Three Little Pigs" made some serious mistakes constructing their homes. What if the third little pig had refused to bail them out in order to teach them a lesson? Would they have had to reserve a room at The Swine Street Inn? Would they have organized a Piggy Posse to run the wolf out of town? Or would they have ended up as "ham jam"?

What You Need

  • Writing materials
  • A sense of humor!

What to Do

  1. Ask students to list some of their favorite fairy tales. Ask them to discuss some elements that many of the stories share. You might find it helpful to web their responses or to use a Venn diagram to illustrate similarities and differences. Some of the common elements are:

    • Once upon a time...
    • Good vs. evil
    • Beautiful princess/handsome prince
    • Magic
    • Talking animals
    • ...happily ever after.

  2. Tell students that they will have an opportunity to "fracture" one of these tales. A fractured fairy tale is designed to be humorous by changing the story in an unexpected way, like altering a character, or adding modern language and events. Ask for suggestions on ways to fracture "Cinderella." List ideas on the board. These may include:

    • Cinderella is homely and has beautiful stepsisters.
    • The prince can't dance.
    • She likes to cook and clean.
    • The magic wand is broken and can't get the spell quite right.
    • She doesn't want to get married anyway.
    • She didn't want a carriage; she wanted a Mazda!

  3. Tell students that a humorous version of a well-known story is called a parody. Explain that the humor can be satirical (making fun of the Prince, for example), or ironical (the broken wand).

  4. Instruct students that other than the fractured elements, the fairy tales should be true to the classic form. Invite them to work alone or with a partner. Use the writing process to draft, to revise, to edit and to publish the stories. Share and enjoy in a silly authors' circle!

Teaching Options

  • Students may write the stories in script form and act them out for the class.

  • Students may write in a picture book format.

  • Students could put on a puppet show of all the fractured stories to share with a younger grade.

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