Create Your Own Fairy Tale

Beauty and the Beast
Illustration by Warwick Goble/Wikimedia Commons

Age Range: Elementary

Learning Objective: Students will use the provided plot template to make up their own stories and find music to accompany each part of the story.

Teacher Note: See modification note for younger learners at the end of the lesson.

Many composers over the years have set fairy tales to music. This is the third of three fairy tale-related lessons. Find the first lesson about The Swineherd's Suite here, and the second lesson about fairy tale characters here.

1. In the first musical fairy tales lesson, we heard one complete fairy tale told with music only. In the second lesson, we focused on familiar fairy tale characters. Today we will think about the different parts of a fairy tale story and create our own fairy tales.

2. Are you familiar with the phrase "Once upon a time..."? I bet you know that is a very common way for a fairy tale to begin. What about "...and they all lived happily ever after?" This is the common fairy tale ending. Let's think about all the elements that are often a part of a fairy tale story and then use those to write our own.

3. BEGINNING. Let's start at the beginning. Hearing "Once upon a time.." might make the reader/listener think they are hearing a fairy tale. Maybe you want to use a different beginning. Somewhere early in the story, we meet important characters, like the hero/heroine and the villain. We also learn about the setting, or where the story takes place.

4. PROBLEM. The heroine/hero might be in trouble. Maybe they need to take a journey to help someone. Maybe they get lost in the forest. What challenge will they face? This makes our reader curious. What will happen? The suspense and drama keeps us interested.

5. SOLUTION. Something happens and the problem is solved. Sometimes the solution makes everyone happy, sometimes the solution teaches us a lesson. In fairy tales, the solution sometimes involves magic, or magical creatures/characters.

6. LESSON LEARNED. Whether the ending is happy or sad or somewhere in between, we usually learn a lesson. Maybe we learn that hard work pays off in the end, or that being brave is noble.

7. Time to try this formula and write your own fairy tale. Notice the story elements on the left. The questions will help you think about how to craft each part of your fairy tale. Make your own grid with four boxes to make sure you have each element: beginning, problem, solution, and lesson learned.

8. Final details. Here's a checklist to make sure your fairy tale is ready to read.

Fairy tale grid
Fairy tale grid
Katie Condon/MPR

• Ask someone else to ready your fairy tale and check for spelling and full sentences.
• Make sure you have a title!
• Add your own original artwork to create an illustrated version.

9. Finally, give a dramatic reading of your fairy tale. Make sure you add a soundtrack! Choose some music to play as you read your fairy tale out loud. Pick your own, or try Fairy Tale, by Ludovico Einaudi. Maybe you will ask someone to be your audience, or maybe you have a way to make a recording of the dramatic reading of your original fairy tale. Fairytale, by Ludovico Einaudi

10. Want to write more? Find some good advice here.

Note to adults or older children who would like to facilitate this lesson with young learners and pre-readers: Modify by reading through and discussing the elements with the young learner. Ask for their ideas for each story element and write down their answers. They can contribute by drawing to help illustrate the final product. Ask them to act out the fairy tale as you read it back to them.

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Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment

This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

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