The Frog Prince is another classic fairy tale written down by the Brothers Grimm. In the story, a princess is playing near a pond, and drops her golden ball in the water. A frog offers to get the ball for her, but only if she will let him live in her house as her companion. The princess insincerely agrees, and the frog holds her to it. Usually, her father the king insists that she follow through on her promise. In the end, she kisses him or throws him at a wall or even just fulfills her promise, depending on the version you read, and he resumes his true, human form. They marry and live happily ever after.
The University of Pittsburgh has a list of related stories, including versions from Sri Lanka and China.
Once we’ve read and understood a story, we like to give the kids the opportunity to retell it. “The Frog Prince” has a relatively simple plot for a fairy tale, and plenty of dramatic possibilities, so this could be a good one to act out.
CTP’s Reader’s Theater series includes this story in the Reader’s Theater: Fairy Tales, Gr. 1-2 collection. They have a script, sequencing cards for the story, and a symmetry drawing worksheet. The books contains a number of other fairy tales as well. Older kids? Let them make their own script, or improvise. It is easy to divide the story into scenes and divide them up among groups of students. Then get everyone together to present the story in order.
One of my favorite takes on this story is The Frog Prince, Continued by Jon Scieszka. The book begins after “The Frog Prince” ends. In it, the princess is not satisfied with the prince. The prince is not in fact very happy as a human, and he visits several fairy tale witches in search of a solution before he and the princess become happy frogs together. This book should follow “The Frog Prince.”
Here are some things you could do when reading Scieszka’s book:
- The Frog Prince in this book “knows his fairy tales.” See whether the kids know theirs, too, by asking them which fairy tales are represented in the story as you read.
- One thing you notice when you read this book is that all the fairy tale witches are living in the same neighborhood, and all the stories are taking place at the same time. Challenge students to make a map showing how all the fairy tales could fit together, either in Europe or in a fantasy land.
- You could make a newspaper reporting on all the fairy tale happenings. This can be a fine culmination of a unit on fairy tales. Have students write a letter to the newspaper’s advice columnist summarizing the feelings of the prince or the princess in the beginning of the book.
- The prince in The Frog Prince Continued was originally a frog, while the Frog Prince was a prince who had been turned into a frog. What difference does this make to the story?
- The moral of The Frog Prince Continued is this: appreciate what you have. The prince and princess come to realize this when their situation –with which they were not contented — was threatened. Ask the kids to write about a similar experience in their own lives.
- Write “continued” versions of other fairy tales you’ve studied.
- Check out the Kennedy Center’s lessons on The Frog Prince, Continued , using Sondheim’s Into the Woods.
- Peter Gabriel did a song based on the story called “Kiss That Frog.” Read the lyrics and listen to the song to see whether you think the students in your class would benefit from listening to the recording, or to part of it — it probably depends on the grade you work with. If you can use this in your classroom, it could be a great start to a lesson. Have the kids write their own rock and roll song from the point of view of the princess or her father. (Enya and Keane have also both done rock songs named “The Frog Prince,” though neither one tells the story.)
- A poem by Anna Denise considers how the frog might feel on first turning back into a prince — how awkward it might be for him at first. Your adolescent students might feel that way sometimes themselves. Read the poem and discuss how it might describe the feeling of being in a new school, a higher grade, or a “new” more mature body.
- Poemhunter offers a couple more poems inspired by the tale. With this collection of poems, this could be a good time to study poetry, and to write poems. ReadWriteThink has a graphic organizer leading to a Frog Prince cinquain.
- In fairy tales, it is fine to say something took place by magic and let it go at that. If we change genres, though, that might not be acceptable. For example, if we rewrite “The Frog Prince” as science fiction, we would have to come up with some plausible explanation for the enchantment of the Frog Prince. Consider the example of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — their story is not an accurate description of how mutation works, but it is an explanation. Challenge students to come up with a paragraph explaining the transformation of the Frog Prince without using magic. Follow up with a discussion of the “rules” of various genres of fiction.
- While the morals of some fairy tales are hard for modern readers to relate to, this one is clear: “What you have promised, that you must do.” Was the princess right to make a promise she never meant to keep? Was her father right to insist that she keep the promise even though she didn’t mean it? This can be a good question for discussion, debate, and writing. Take it a step further and ask whether it is ever right to make an insincere promise, or what the princess could have done as an alternative way of making things right with the frog if she really felt she couldn’t fulfill her promise.
- An enchanted prince in a fairy tale can never just explain the problem to the princess; he has to get her to love him without the advantages of being a handsome prince. Consider: is it usually better to be frank about a problem and ask for help? Ask students to write about an experience that helped them answer that question for themselves.
- Disney’s version of the “The Frog Prince” is The Princess and the Frog, a story set in New Orleans. It has little resemblance to the original story, but it has very clear lessons about character, including the value of hard work and perseverance. If students are familiar with the film, use Venn diagrams to compare the movie to the traditional story.
One of the reasons that the princess didn’t think she had to fulfill her promise was that she didn’t think the frog would really come to the palace. Another is that she thought frogs were disgusting. Study frogs a bit to see whether the princess was right about frogs or just stereotyping.
- All About Frogs has an article about frog skin that would be a good reading passage for elementary school students. Burke Museum has one for secondary school. Both address the question of whether and why frogs are slimy.
- Frogs have an interesting life cycle. Learning Resources has a magnetic set showing all the stages.
- A National Geographic frog lesson addresses endangered frog species.
- The Frog Prince is not one of the best-known fairy tales, in the sense of being one that most people can tell from memory, but the image of the princess kissing the frog is certainly one of the best-known images from fairy tales, turning up in cartoons and on T-shirts. The frog with a crown is another very popular image. Collect examples from newspapers, catalogs, and other media. Challenge students to produce their own versions of this image in their chosen medium.
- Make it easier with simple shapes. Painted Paper Crafts has an example.
- Disney Family has crafts, including food crafts and printables, from the Disney retelling of the story, The Princess and the Frog.
- Study data analysis by taking a survey of feelings about frogs among the students. Make it easy to tabulate by asking yes/no questions like “Are frogs cute?” or “Are frogs disgusting?” Chart and graph the information. Then do some of the frog study suggested under “science” and ask your questions again. Compare the results and see whether knowing more about frogs made the class like them better. Ask another class (one not studying about frogs) to act as the control group to make your study more scientific.
- There is a complicated math and logic problem presented and discussed as a variant of “The Frog Prince” at The Math Forum.
- Simple or complex, you can give any math problem a Frog Prince ambience by using Frog Counters.
In general, I think that there are three kinds of curriculum connections we can make, whether for a theme or for a piece of literature.
First, there are natural connections. “The Frog Prince” naturally makes you think about how people feel toward frogs, and about promises, and about frogs in general.
Second, there are convenient connections. An example is the math brainteaser linked above — they aren’t really about the story, and don’t contribute to the understanding of the story, but they allow you to fit in other topics that you wanted to study anyway, and to keep your unit cohesive while you do that.
There are also artificial connections, like using frog counters.
There is nothing wrong with that, in my opinion, as long as we don’t mix up the three kinds of connections. When we start thinking that using frog counters is an integral part of a lesson on “The Frog Prince”, or that the students learn something about frogs from using them, then we are off track.
This can be a good time to fit in your floating and sinking lessons (the golden ball would definitely sink). Metamorphosis is also a good science connection: compare real metamorphosis (egg to frog) with imaginary metamorphosis (prince to frog and back).