One of my favourite units to teach in literacy each year is our study of fantasy stories. We read a variety of different selections, culminating with Cendrillon, which is a Cinderella-type story from the island nation of Martinique. After reading this story, we always read several other Cinderella stories from around the world. This often turns into a two-week unit, usually because it tends to fall right around the time of our Thanksgiving break.
This year is no different. We read Cendrillon last week and then read several more Cinderella stories, making Venn diagrams to compare and contrast the stories, listing key details found in each story, and discussing what makes each story fantasy. One of the things that my students always seem to point out is that one way we know that Cinderella is fantasy is that Cinderella’s shoe only fits one person in the entire kingdom! Just as I have in the past, I used this observation as the foundation of a writing assignment: write an alternate ending to a Cinderella story in which the slipper fits someone else before the prince finds Cinderella!
We are continuing our study this week. I had my students break into their four reading groups and gave each group a Cinderella story to read. My two favourites were The Rough-Face Girl and Cinder Edna. We will read a few more of these stories tomorrow and then culminate with a combined fourth grade celebration on Wednesday morning. (Sorry, students: I’m not telling you what we are doing for this until then!) We will also do some more writing assignments related to the theme. I have enjoyed watching my students working together, reading stories that many of them (especially the boys!) would not have read before, and expressing opinions about the characters!