Cinderella stories and graphic organizers help students with their reading, comprehension, and oral presentation skills.
Invitation to Learn
Cinderella Readers Theater
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
Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella, by Robert D. San Souci & Charles Perrault; ISBN
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
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
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
Intended Learning Outcomes
1. Demonstrate responsible emotional and cognitive behaviors.
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
- What's the resolution or how was the problem solved (whisper
to your neighbor with your hand on their shoulder)?
- 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
- Read a traditional tale of Cinderella to your students.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- Talk about what students notice about the script. Explain that
there are different parts ("reader 1," "reader 2," "reader 3" and
- 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.
- Make sure that reading is done at a rate that students can easily
- Re-read the script again as a non-example of good reading. Use
a monotone voice and no expression.
- Ask students what was wrong and make a list of their
suggestions. Pose the question: Which reading was better?
- 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.
- 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
- Have students practice their part and help them with words that
might be tricky. They can practice alone, with a partner or in a
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.