Tips for Fairy Tales

Tips for Fairy Tales

Fairy tales are a rich source of motivating learning content for our younger learners. This tip looks at how you can exploit the 'fairy tale' resources on the British Council's LearnEnglish Kids site with your students. ‘Fairy Tales' is a section on LearnEnglish Kids, the British Council's site for young learners. It contains a wealth of materials on fairy tales which are particularly suitable for very young learners. You can find it here:

Fairy Tales

You will currently (May 2007) find materials on three very widely known fairy tales: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood.

In the Goldilocks section teachers can use the flash-animated goldilocks story, print a play for learners to act out and masks for props, and follow-up with the song ‘When Goldilocks came to the House of the Bears'.

In the Jack and the Beanstalk section you will find the traditional story of Jack, animated with a flash movie sequence, along with an interactive game and a creative task for your students (‘The Magic Castle'). You'll also find links to lots more printable materials on teaching English.

In the Little Red Riding Hood section there is a flash movie story, games, and finger puppets of the characters for you to download and use for acting out the story.

In addition to these fairy stories you will find more general materials on fairy tales which can be exploited with learners who are a little more advanced, providing stimulus for their own creative writing. On this page you will find tips for using and exploiting the stories in the classroom.

The tips are divided into two sections - firstly for very young learners and secondly for more advanced or lower teens. Here are some ideas for using these fairy tales with learners of different ages.

Primary or Very Young Learners: Goldilocks

You could start your lesson by introducing the story of goldilocks, which your learners will probably know already. If you can, try to get hold of a big book or storybook of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Read or tell the story to your students, exploiting the visuals and asking questions throughout. Make sure the children understand key words for the story e.g. Goldilocks, bear, porridge, bowl, chair, bed.

Now let your students listen to and watch the flash-movie story on LearnEnglish Kids: Kids topics: Goldilocks. Once they have watched the movie once or twice you could ask them to do the matching worksheet at where they have to match the captions to the pictures.

Once children are familiar with the story, they could act out the play of Goldilocks available at

You can also download masks of the three bears and Goldilocks, mount them on card and attach them to lolly sticks or pencils. You could also collect a few props for use in acting out the story e.g. bowls, spoons, cushions as ‘beds'. Depending on the level and ability of your learners, you could ask the children to work in groups of four to practise the dialogue, or do this as a whole-class activity.

You could do similar activities with the Jack and the Beanstalk story and the Little Red Riding Hood story. You can download the finger puppets for the latter at

For Lower Secondary learners

With learners who are a little more advanced you can exploit their knowledge of universal fairy tales and perhaps some local ones. Begin the lesson by asking the students which fairy tales they know and write up the names on the board in English. Well-known fairy tales include Cinderella, Snow White, Goldilocks, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast.

Ask your students to tell the basic plot of one of the fairy stories on the board. Write up key vocabulary and characters on the board e.g. prince, castle, ogre, ugly sisters, wicked queen, frog. Your learners could compare the stories - which characters or objects appear most?

Use the worksheet ‘Fairy Tale Quiz' at Ask students to complete this in groups or teams. If you wish you could practise fairy story vocabulary with the worksheet ‘Fairy Story Words' at

Now discuss the typical plot of a fairy story. What usually happens? If you like you could show your learners one of the flash movie stories from the section above. After the vocabulary and story input you will probably want your learners to move on to a more creative stage. A very nice lead-in to a creative activity is to use the Story Maker programme available on LearnEnglish Kids storymaker-fairy.htm. Students choose all the variables in the story - character, setting etc - but the basic framework of the story stays the same.

For learners who need more support with writing the same principle applies in making a story using the worksheet ‘write a fairy story' which provides basic practice in a substitution table:

Finally you can ask your students to write their own fairy tale, or a modern fairy story. Ask your students to think about what would be different if the tale were set in modern-day society? Think of the places, characters, events. In pairs or groups students could write their modern-day version and illustrate them for display work. Or your class could use them to make a book of modern-day fairy tales.

Sue Clarke

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