Cinderella is one of my favorite childhood stories. The original version has been traced back to China. Most of us are familiar with the version written by Charles Perrrault and published in 1697 in Paris. There are over one thousand different versions of the story from different cultures around the world. One of my students' favorite activities is a unit based on the many different versions of this favorite fairy tale. We read many different versions and keep notes in our reading journals about the differences and similarities. We also record notes on the various elements of each version. We post all the information on a giant chart or use our Promethean Board. At the end of the unit, we use this info to compile a database and convert into different charts, graphs, and Venn Diagrams. This helps us compare and contrast the stories. The students vote on their favorite version and use the tallies to make spreadsheets. They also convert these into charts and graphs using a spreadsheet. As we read a new version, a student marks the country of origin on a map.
A fun culminating activity is to have each child write their own version of the fairy tale. After proofreading their work with a partner, they edit and publish their own books. This is great way to integrate skills across the curriculum.
I've listed some of our favorite versions below along with ideas of activities.
Cinderella, by Marcia Brown
I use this familiar version before my students are exposed to other versions. Older students can make an outline of the story.
Midnight, A Cinderella Alphabet, by Stephanie Perkal
This book is an overiew of many of the different versions of Cinderella. Each letterof the alphabet introduces a new story. It is the perfect book to use to introduce a Cinderella unit. Students can model journal entries based on the format of this book. For example, the “S” entry could stand for “Slipper.” Students can enter adjectives describing the slipper, as well as keep a running record of the different types of footware in the books.
Cinderella Penguin, or The Little Glass Flipper, by Janet Perlman
This version is not very different from the original, except that the main character is a penguin. Students can rewrite the story using thier favorite animal. They must use the native habitat of the animal they choose.
Cinder Edna, by Ellen Jackson
This version is about Cinderella and her neighbor, Ellen. It teachers us to make the best of our situation. Compare and contrast Cinderella and Edna. Use Venn diagrams, T charts, or other graphic organizers. Tie this book into Social Studies standards by identifying the economic concepts featured in this version. Also, ask students to make flow charts showing the various items that can be recyled and what the finished products will be. Ask students to make up jokes like Edna’s. They must choose a country and letter that begins with the same letter.
Ask students to trace around one of their own feet. They should then decorate their foot with adjectives that describe themselves. Classmates try to identify the author by the decorated feet.
Let students see how many strange recipes they can invent for tuna casserole.
Dinorella: A Prehistoric Fairy Tale, by Pamela Duncan Edwards and Henry Cole
The youngest readers can identify all the words with the beginning D sound. Introduce older readers to alliteration. Rewrite the story using words with a different beginning sound.
Pick out different parts of speech from the text. Ask students to change the parts of speech with other words. How does this change the story?
Cinder-Elly, by Frances Minters
Students love this fun version. Divide the story into parts and give one to small groups of students. Have the students perform their sections as a rap. Be sure to include sound effects and to video the performance. Students can also make their own poster asking for help finding the owner of the glass sneaker. They must include only the important details.
Prince Cinders, by Babette Cole
This modern version of the fairy tale is fun to use as a springboard for writing Part II, describing how the hairy brothers liked being house fairies.
The Turkey Girl, A Zuni Cinderella Story, by Penny Pollock
This Native American version from the Zuni culture in New Mexico is based on our relationship with nature. Ask students to brainstorm ways we can show respect for nature. Use a search engine to research the Zuni culture.
Rough Face Girl, by Rafe Martin
This Algonquin Indian version is similar to The Sootface Girl. Students can draw pictures of the Invisible Being using items from nature as parts of his hunting gear. The picture must include a key and explanation for the choice of each item. This is a great way for students to experience firsthand the use of diagrams, cutaways, and the accompanying keys.
Sootface, An Ojibwa Cinderella Story, by Robert D. San Souci
This beautiful Native American version comes from the Northeastern and Great Lakes areas. Students can research the culture of the Ojibwa tribe. Have them make of a list of their daily chores and those of Sootface. They can come up with some interesting comparisons!
Cendrillon, by Robert SanSouci
This Caribbean version of the fairy tale is a good springboard for discussing the characteristics of a friend. How would students help a friend in need? Write a real life version of the tale with themself as one of the characters.
Yeh-Shen, A Cinderella Story from China, by Ai-Ling Louie
This is one of the oldest versions of Cinderella. Have students make a timeline of the different versions they have read.
Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, An African Tale, by John Stepto
This is an African tale of pride going before a fall. After reading the translation of the names from the story, have students research the origins of their own names. Using the beautiful illustrations as a starting point, students can also research the vegetation and wildlife of the Zimbabwe region.
The Korean Cinderella, by Shirley Clima
The beautiful illustrations in this versions portray many symbols of Korean culture. Divide the students into groups. Each group can research a Korean festival and make a presentation to the class.
Smoky Mountain Rose, An Appalachian Cinderella, by Alan Schroeder
This version has great examples of dialect. Let students rewrite the story using different dialects from various regions of the U. S. Students will have fun looking for examples of figurative language. Have them define and illustrate the examples. Have students research and learn various variations of a square dance.
Cinderella Bigfoot (Happily Ever After), by Mike Thayer and Jared Lee
The best line of this book ----"Time flies when you're having a ball!" Ask students to make a chart of all the plays on words in this book.
Cinderella/That Awful Cinderella: A Classic Tale (Point of View), by Alvin Granowsky
The first part of the book is the traditional version. Turn the book over and you hear the story from a different point of view. One of the stepsisters tells the story as she sees it. Students can rewrite the story form the point of view of one of the other characters.
Chapter Twelve in Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird, by Vivian Vande Velde
This book includes the retelling of several familiar stories. Ask students to read the two pages. HAve them pick out another object from the story to use as the test. They could also pretend to be a detective and prove the left behind slipper was not an accident.
Minderella, by Margaret Snyder
This is the Disney version, starring Minnie Mouse. Students will have fun writing a version of Cinderella that stars their favorite cartoon character.