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Cinderella: A Character with Culture

Main Core Tie

English Language Arts Grade 1
Reading: Literature Standard 3


Utah LessonPlans
Grace Wayman


Cinderella stories and graphic organizers help students with their reading, comprehension, and oral presentation skills.


Invitation to Learn

Comparing Cinderellas

Cinderella Readers Theater

Additional Resources


Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters An African Tale, by John Steptoe; ISBN 0-590-42058-5

Teaching With Cinderella Stories From Around the World, by Kathleen M. Hollenbeck; ISBN 0-439-18843-1

Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella, by Robert D. San Souci & Charles Perrault; ISBN 9780689848889

Cinder Edna, by Ellen B. Jackson & Kevin O'Malley; ISBN 9780688162955

Cindy Ellen: A wild western Cinderella, by Susan Lowell; ISBN 0439270065

The Persian Cinderella, by Shirley Climo; ISBN 0060267631

Cinderella, by Charles Perrault, Loek; ISBN 9780735814868

Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella, by Paul Fleischman; ISBN 978080507953

Egyptian Cinderella, by Shirley Climo; ISBN 9780064432795

Cinderella, by Barbara McClintock; ISBN 0439561450 Yeh-Shen, by Ai Ling Louie & Ed Young; ISBN 0698113888

The Korean Cinderella, by Shirley Climo; ISBN 006020432X

Background for Teachers

Graphic Organizers are used in this lesson to help students to organize information from books that are read, and facts that are learned. Graphic Organizers are a good way to help students participate visually and orally. As students advance in their learning they are able to use graphic organizers on their own, as well as with a group to show their knowledge and understanding of information. Graphic Organizers are also a great way to help integrate the arts with other subjects by using reading and writing to understand content area topics.

Readers' theater offers students an effective tool for connecting literature, oral reading and drama. Through readers' theater, children are able to become more fluent in their reading and perfect their oral presentation skills. Readers' theater also gives students a chance to work together cooperatively in reading and listening and giving each other feedback. Through readers' theater children can be taught about voice level, intonation, pitch, and body positioning when reading. Children also learn how to communicate to an audience and interpret text. Readers' theaters can easily be written and are adaptable to most subject matter.

Intended Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate responsible emotional and cognitive behaviors.

Instructional Procedures

Invitation to Learn

Show students the picture of Tales Beneath Timp by James Christensen or some other picture from a book cover that shows people reading. Talk about what they notice in the picture. What does it look like the people and animals in the picture are doing? They are listening to a tale. Another name for a story is a tale. This picture is showing people, some real and some pretend, listening to a tale. People all over the world like to listen to stories and there are lots of different stories, but every story has four important parts: character, setting, problem, and resolution. Refer students to the Story Elements Graphic Organizer that you will be using later in the lesson. Teach students the following chant:

  • Who were the characters (put your hands by your face as you move your head from side to side)?
  • What was the setting (Hands above your head like you are making the roof of a house)?
  • What was the problem (Make two fists, like you are ready to fight)?
  • What's the resolution or how was the problem solved (whisper to your neighbor with your hand on their shoulder)?

Instructional Procedures

Comparing Cinderellas

  1. Explain to students that you are going to read a story aloud and that you need their help finding the character, setting, problem and solution in the story that is being read. Explain that when they hear a character identified in the story they can put their hands by their face, when they hear the setting they can put their hands about their head to form a roof, etc. (refer to the invitation to learn), as a signal that they found one of the story elements.
  2. Read a traditional tale of Cinderella to your students.
  3. As a class, fill in the Story Elements Graphic Organizer poster with characters, setting, problem and solution. You can use pictures or words, depending on level of learners, or when in the school year the activity is completed.
  4. Later, (the next day), remind the students about what you talked about before (invitation to learn): how every country has "tales" that they tell and read. Explain that now you are going to read a tale that is from another country, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, a South African tale.
  5. On a globe or map show students the location of South Africa. Have a discussion about what they think may be different in this Cinderella-type story, as compared to the traditional tale read previously.
  6. Explain that some of the parts of this story are a lot like the Cinderella story read previously, and some are very different. Make it clear that after you read, you are going to fill out the Story Elements Graphic Organizer poster as you did for the Cinderella story, previously, and you are going to need everyone to help. If you want to use a different color of marker to fill out the poster for the second Cinderella story, it would make it easy to use for a compare and contrast activity on a different day.
  7. During the reading, when students recognize a character in the story have them put their hands by their face, when they hear something about the setting have them put their hands about their head to form a roof, etc., as a signal that they identified one of the story elements.
  8. Have students pay special attention to the pictures as well as the words as you read the story, stopping to fill in the Story Elements Graphic Organizer poster as needed.
  9. After the Story Elements Graphic Organizer has been filled in for both stories, discuss as a class the things you noticed that were similar or different between the two stories.
  10. Introduce the Venn Diagram. Using the Venn Diagram pocket chart put the names of the two stories at the top of the intersecting circles. Model by thinking aloud "I noticed that both stories have sisters who are not nice so I am going to put that in the middle pocket because it shows how they are the same. I also noticed that in Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters the setting was in a jungle village (refer them back to the Story Elements Graphic Organizer) but in the first story we read the setting was in a house. I am going to write jungle village and put it on this side, and house and put it on this side." You could also have pictures from the stories that you could put in either side of the pocket chart. After modeling and thinking aloud for students, see if any of them can think of story elements that are the same or different that they could add to the pocket chart.
  11. Give students time to go back to their own seats and complete the Venn Diagram themselves. They can use pictures or words (preferably both) to show that they understand the differences and similarities in the two stories.
  12. As a follow up in a future lesson you may want to discuss and reflect upon how the different versions of the tales read reflect the cultures of the authors who wrote them. You could find the countries on a map, talk about the history and culture that influenced the choices of the authors in their retelling of the story. Students can be given the opportunity to journal about their observations and things that they have learned through the compare and contrast process.
  13. Now that you have completed the compare and contrast process you can easily complete instructional procedure steps four- twelve with a different culture's version of the Cinderella story (e.g. The Rough-Faced Girl).

Cinderella Readers Theater (for boys and girls alike)

  1. Give a script to each child in the classroom. There is a script for the boys, and a script for the girls. If you don't have the "right" numbers of students, more than one student can say the part at once.
  2. Talk about what students notice about the script. Explain that there are different parts ("reader 1," "reader 2," "reader 3" and "all").
  3. Model an oral reading of the script, while students follow along. If possible, you could use another child in your class to read with you. If this is not possible, you could physically move from side to side, demonstrating different parts. You could invite former students to come back and help you. Children love to see kids that are older than them, and realize that they can be just like them if they listen and learn.
  4. Make sure that reading is done at a rate that students can easily follow along.
  5. Re-read the script again as a non-example of good reading. Use a monotone voice and no expression.
  6. Ask students what was wrong and make a list of their suggestions. Pose the question: Which reading was better?
  7. Assign parts, and show students how to underline, with a crayon, only the part of the readers' theater that they will be reading. Make sure that you make note of who has what part.
  8. Make a "magic" wand out of a straw and a star die cut that students can decorate. These magic wands can be used as trackers while students practice their readers' theater parts. As a teacher, model how the wand moves smooth and flowing as you read fluently as opposed to a lumpy, bumpy reading (see Fluency Rubric).
  9. Have students practice their part and help them with words that might be tricky. They can practice alone, with a partner or in a small group.
  10. After students have had time to practice their parts (this may stretched out over more than one day), allow them to perform for your class.


Curriculum Extensions/Adaptations/ Integration

  • In Africa, a drum is often used as part of storytelling. In order to make the connection to African culture, you could use a drum (you can even make your own out of an oatmeal container) to retell Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters to music. Show how you can use music to depict exciting or calm parts of the story with the beats of your drum.
  • Explore sounds/music created around the world. Drum (Africa), Violin (Japan), Recorder (England) as you read the stories from those countries.
  • On a map mark the places where the different Cinderella stories come from that you have read.
  • Read other stories (books listed below) of Cinderella from various countries and follow the same process of comparing and contrasting.
  • Repeat the steps under Comparing Cinderellas instructional procedures, using a new folk/fairy tale that has different renditions from other cultures/countries (e.g. The Three Little Pigs vs. The Three Javelinas, etc.).
  • Make a list of descriptive words for the main characters in the story as an interactive writing activity, and to teach students about using descriptive words in their own writing.
  • Use die cuts and craft sticks to make "magic wands" from straws and die cuts and have students use them as pointers as they read around the room.
  • Have students write about their own wishes, just as Cinderella had wishes.
  • You could also use the wands to take turns "tapping" one another and giving tasks to perform (spell a word, count the sounds, find a rhyme etc.).
  • Retell one of the "tales" on one sheet of paper using "thumbprint" art. Each child can use their thumb to make the main characters on a sheet of paper and write a speech bubble for each character (e.g. Cinderella says, "I want to go to the ball"), or sentence about the story.
  • Fold a Story: Using a square piece of paper, fold all four corners into the center to from four triangles. On each triangle write about one of the story elements (character, setting, problem, resolution) and on the inside draw a picture to go with the story.
  • Sing the song Fairy Tales. Higher-level students could write their own verse to go with the song, and or illustrate the song to make a class book.

Family Connections

  • Send home a note to see if any families have Cinderella stories that are from different places around the world. Let the child read (or just bring) the book to school to be read. Talk about the country where the book comes from.
  • Have students take their readers' theater scripts home and perform for their families.
  • Invite families to school for a performance of this and other readers' theaters.

Assessment Plan

  • Observe students' actions during reading of the Cinderella stories for clues that they are identifying story elements, through their physical representations.
  • After having students fill out the Venn Diagram, check for accuracy (finding elements that are the same and different in each story).
  • Do a running record with your individual students, using the readers' theater scripts, watching for expression, rate and accuracy of reading.
  • Have students monitor their own reading progress, showing how they think they have improved, using the Fluency Rubric. This could be used before and after for a pre and post assessment.


Research Basis

Cornett, C.E. (2006). Center stage: Arts-based read-alouds. The Reading Teacher. 60(3) 234-40.

This article opens with examples of two classroom teachers who use music and drama as core strategies to introduce, develop, and follow-up on a reading lesson during an integrated social studies unit. These examples introduce an expanded definition of literacy that includes use of language and the arts as equal communication partners. The article goes on to explain the process of collaborative arts-based literacy planning, showing how team of teachers selects specific music, visual art, drama, and dance strategies to develop a book's "big ideas" or themes. Arts strategies are then used as processes to help students make meaning before, during, and after reading.

Biegler, L. (1998). Implementing dramatization as an effective storytelling method to increase comprehension. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 417377)

This research study shows that students who used dramatization had greater comprehension. The findings suggest that children who reenact a story become more emotionally involved, and therefore more motivated and interested.

Created: 07/07/2008
Updated: 02/05/2018