Even though our second theme for this year’s Summer Camp was the fairly predictable Fairy Tales, we focused on the less common. We started off the week with a fairy tale introduction. A fairy tale is a sub-genre of folk tales with their timeless, vague settings, their absolute characters; and they usually include magic. I never thought specifically about what makes a story a folk or fairy tale.
After we discussed what a fairy tale is, we moved on to the most common fairy tale authors – Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm brothers. Actually, the Grimm brothers spent most of their time collecting stories. After reading about Hans Christian Andersen’s life, I was surprised a lifelong single man would write fairy tales.
The next day we read a couple of tales from other cultures. From Argentina, we read the Magic Ball and from Cambodia we read Princess Amaradevi. I’ll bet you haven’t heard of those. Stories to Grow By shares folk and fairy tales from around the world that are accented with children’s drawings of the characters and places in those stories. We finished off the day’s lesson with a rousing game of Fairy Tale Tag (similar to Cartoon Tag).
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We also spent a day on different versions of Little Red Riding Hood. The Grimm Brothers had a version that was actually called Little Red Cap and an Italian version called Little Red Hat. I also found a very disturbing version from France called The Grandmother where the wolf was a werewolf. I won’t be sharing that one with the kids, especially just before bed!
Finally we spent a day talking about an extremely popular modern day “fairy tale”, Harry Potter. I don’t think it officially qualifies as a fairy tale since it isn’t a short narrative with simple characters. But it has many of the same elements, like most fantasy novels. There is definitely a battle between good and evil. It was fun to look for those elements in other modern fiction works.
This is a fun unit because there are so many directions you can go with it, and it is adaptable to most ages. I love seeing what grabs my children’s interests in the vast topic and letting them direct the focus of study.