Once Upon a Time…

I love a good fairy tale and traditional stories in this genre make for a great theme for young children (provided they have been edited from their original version…did you know in the original Cinderella the stepsisters cut their toes off to try and make the shoe fit?! Yuck!). Going into Kindergarten, I feel like every preschooler should know stories like “The Three Little Pigs”, “The Gingerbread Man” and “Red Riding Hood”- they teach some great lessons and honestly kids love them! We got a fairy tale compilation book on Amazon this past spring that my boys love flipping through. We’ve read all the stories together, but I thought the start of the school year would be the perfect time to do a weekly fairy tale theme and revisit some of our favorites. Don’t forget to zip on over to my toddler post “Happily Ever After” for more fun fairy tale activities like baking gingerbread men, a “Princess and the Pea” sensory bin and building a castle in the clouds!


-Jack and the Beanstalk retelling: We read “Jack and the Beanstalk” then my little retold the story by putting story cards in the correct order. I got them on Teachers Pay Teachers, and just removed the cards that didn’t fit with our version of the story, then I broke them into groups of 5 (beginning, middle, end) so it wouldn’t be as overwhelming for him to order them. We worked together to sequence the story cards- I read them, and he decided what order they went in (with my help when applicable).

-Rewrite the ending activity: Have you ever read a “twisted fairy tale” where the author takes a traditional story and rewrites it a bit? (“The Princess and the Pizza” and “Goldilocks has Chickenpox” are two that come to mind! Come to think of it, I should’ve borrowed those from the library this week!) This week I did something similar with my little by reading him most of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” (up to the point where she falls asleep) then having him reimagine the end to the story. Right now he’s a little Star Wars obsessed, so of course Bobba Fett shows up…hahaha TIP: Your little may just ramble off a great, detailed creative story, or they may need some prompting- depending on the day, my little has done both with his story telling. You can encourage more details by asking them questions (ie. What happened after that? What were they playing? Where did they go next?)

-K is for knight (or king): My little loves “knight and soldiers” (that’s what he calls a knight in shining armor), so we went with K is for knight on this one…I made the page and the knight came out a little scary, but he still liked it (and thought it looked like Phasma from Star Wars because it was silver) LoL

Venn Diagram compare and contrast: We read “The Gingerbread Man” and “The Stinky Cheese Man” (from the book “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales”…not my favorite title, but it has some silly twisted fairy tales in it that are great for a compare and contrast activity!) then we used a Venn Diagram to write down how the two stories were the same (comparing) and how they were different (contrasting). Before we began reading, I told my little to think about how the two stories were the same, and how they were different as we read so he would be ready to discuss them when we finished.


-Magic mirror symmetry activity: I drew half of a gingerbread man, folded the paper in half, then asked my little if he wanted to see a trick in my magic mirror. Of course he said “Yes!” so I went to our bedroom and said “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, show me a gingerbread man, show him ALL!” then I held the paper up to the mirror with the fold touching it so that between the mirror and my drawing it appeared he was a full gingerbread man (my little’s face was priceless when I did this! hahaha) Then we discussed symmetry- or when something is exactly the same on both sides- and how the mirror makes a symmetrical gingerbread man because it’s reflecting the exact same side I drew so they look identical. Then I had my little try to draw the other half of the gingerbread man (I helped him by drawing the body, he added the decorations) so that both sides looked the same. I got this idea from PBS parents– a great free resource for preschool learning ideas!

-Dragon wing symmetry: We reviewed symmetry then talked about how if you fold a paper in half and cut a shape out around the fold line, it will make a symmetrical shape. Then I folded a sheet of green construction paper in half, drew half of a set of dragon wings on it and had my little cut it out. When he was finished we looked at both sides of the wings and discussed how they were the same. I got this idea from PBS Kids who also shared a super cute reading by Michelle Obama of “There’s a Dragon in Your Book!” that my little loved!

-Polk-a-dot patterns: I printed this do-a-dot page out and I had my little decorate the crown with patterns. We reviewed what a repeating pattern is before we began, and I had him tell me what a pattern was in his own words when we finished.

-Counting puzzle: I printed and laminated this castle puzzle, then had my little use the numbers to help him put it together.

Science/Social Studies:

-STEM Rapunzel slide: We read the story “Rapunzel”, then I told my little Rapunzel was tired of being trapped in her tower, so we were going to build her a slide to escape! I gave him some toilet paper tubes that were cut in half length wise and some tape, and we worked together to make a slide (he tore off pieces of tape, I held the tube halves, and we took turns taping them together.) Then we secured our slide to the top of our “tower” (a bar stool) and he tested it out by sending Rapunzel (a Minnie Mouse toy- but a small princess doll would be even better!) down the slide! I got this idea from Math Geek Mama!

-Make a map of a fairytale kingdom: We reviewed what maps are and what they help us do, then I gave my little fairytale pictures that I printed and cut out from this map and had him glue them on a sheet of paper to make his own fairytale map. He added roads to link the locations, and named his kingdom too!

-3 Little Pigs trial: I used to do this activity with my students to help teach about the judicial branch of government, so I thought it would be fun to do with my little too. We discussed how government is the group of people we choose to make and help people keep laws- or rules- in our country. Then we discussed how if someone doesn’t follow the laws, they might have to go on trial where both sides tell their version of the story and a judge or jury decides who is telling the truth. Next we read “The Three Little Pigs” and “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” and I had my little decide if the wolf was guilty or not guilty of ruining the pig’s houses and eating them. (I actually couldn’t find my copy of “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” so we watched someone else reading it on YouTube– thank the Lord for technology!)

-Red Riding Hood stranger danger lesson: I told my little we were going to read a story and I wanted him to listen to see if he could figure out what the author was trying to teach us with the story. Then we read “Little Red Riding Hood”. He easily identified the message “Don’t talk to strangers” and we discussed why this is something that’s important to know.


-Decorate a gingerbread house: First, I built a “gingerbread house” using graham crackers and frosting. To make the frosting I used about 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar and 1 TBSP of milk- you want the frosting to be thick and sticky, not runny! TIP: let the house sit and dry for about an hour so the walls are sturdy and won’t fall down while your little decorates (I didn’t do this and our house tipped over like 5 times! Lesson learned!) Then let your little decorate the house by dipping candy (we used M&Ms) in the frosting and sticking it to the house. When they’re finished, they can eat it for a fun snack!

-Shield crest design: We discussed how knights often had a special picture or “crest” that they would use to decorate their shields and flags that represented their family. My original intent was to have my little design his own crest, but after looking through examples on google, he ended up picking one and asking me to draw it for him, so I obliged! I drew it on cardstock, then he colored it (he asked for help around the unicorn), and cut it out. Then I hot glued a tin foil handle on the back so he could play with it!

-Build a castle with blocks: Block play is always fun, but it becomes even more of an adventure when you have something specific to create! I asked my little if he wanted to build a castle with blocks and after an enthusiastic “Yea!” we spent about half an hour creating together! My toddler participated too, which is great fine motor practice for younger littles!

-Crown making: I drew a zig zag on a piece of yellow paper and had my little cut it out (meaningful scissor practice is the best kind!). Then I glued the two zig zags together- points facing up- and helped him hot glue gems on the crown (he chose the gems and pointed where he wanted them, I put the hot glue down, and he stuck the gem on top- you could also use regular wet glue but hot glue sticks SO much better and dries instantly). Then I glued the crown in a circle to fit his head and voila! Your Majesty!

Supply/shopping list:

  • “A Treasury of 5 Minute Stories” (or other fairy tale classics book for kids)
  • “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs”
  • “The Stinky Cheese Man”
  • fake gems
  • mirror
  • 5+ toilet paper tubes
  • tape
  • small doll or figurine
  • graham crackers
  • frosting
  • candy (like M&Ms)

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