Books: rapunzel's revenge
  Ideas for using Rapunzel in the classroom

See our Rapunzel's Revenge teaching guides for even more ideas.

When doing school visits, my favorite activity is to give students an idea of how to rewrite their own fairy tales. We took the original tale of Rapunzel, put her in the Old West, and a new story emerged. I ask students, what things do you think of when you think of the Old West? They brainstorm:

cowboys
Indians
horses
guns
desert
stagecoaches
lawmen
robbers
trains
covered wagons
stampedes
and so on...

I explain how we used the traditional elements of the Old West setting to reset our tale, and you can do the same. Let's take "Little Red Riding Hood." Where could you set it instead of a forest?

Location ideas:
Under the sea
On the moon
In deep space
Desert
New York City
In your own school
On a movie set
Antarctica
Jungle
Acapulco
Inside someone's cells

We pick one, for example, on the moon. Who would Little Red be instead of a little girl? (e.g. an astronaut) Who would the wolf be? (e.g. an evil alien) Where would Little Red be going instead of her grandmother's house? (e.g. the space shuttle) Who would help save the day instead of a woodcutter? (e.g. mission command, friendly alien, Little Red's trusty pet) We then retell the story with the new elements.

Kids seem to love this activity. It not only helps them get inside a story and examine the elements in a fun way (characters, setting, plot) but teaches writing skills and familiarity with fairy tales. I then challenge them to retell a story on their own.
  • What if Hansel and Gretel took place in outer space? What would they discover instead of a candy house?
  • What if Cinderella happened in your school? Who would be the evil stepmother? The prince? Where would they go instead of a ball?
  • What if Jack and the Beanstalk happened under the sea? Who or what would Jack be? And the beanstalk? Where would it take him? What would he find there?

As a slightly more advanced exercise, the students could pair a fairy tale with a genre, drawing on famous books or movies of this genre for inspiration.

Genre ideas:
Mystery (murder mystery, private investigator, noir, etc.)
Science fiction (space opera, near future, distant future, etc.)
Fantasy (epic fantasy, urban fantasy, etc.)
Comedy
Comic book
Contemporary realistic fiction
Horror
Western
Crime scene investigation
Romantic comedy
How-to
Picture book
Poetry
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