We’ve posted lots of serious fairy tale lesson plans for you, and any of them can give you plenty of ideas for creating a fairy tale theme for your classroom. Fairy tales include heroes, villains, helpers, difficult choices, good and evil, challenges, and consequences. They make an extremely versatile theme.
Go with sanitized picture book or Disney versions for young children, or embrace the creepiness of the Brothers Grimm for secondary school.
Teacher Created has a highly detailed medieval bulletin board set. It’s a set of two coated posters.
Create a castle bulletin board with simple shapes cut from paper — triangles and rectangles. The Big Castle bulletin board set shown above is out of print, but it could be recreated with simple shapes. The Medieval Times Bulletin Board Set from Edupress has a lot of realistic figures to put around your castle.
Title your bulletin board “Once Upon a Time…” to set the fairy tale theme.
Another bulletin board idea is to create a classroom coat of arms from paper. Share Design Your Own Coat of Arms: An Introduction to Heraldry or Coat of Arms (it comes with a stencil) with your students and have them create their own coats of arms, too. Group the student creations around the large central one you’ve created. This little art lesson can lead to some good self-reflection, since imagery is chosen to show character. We like this idea for middle school students.
Older students need some good fairy tale books for the class library or book table. Check out the individual fairy tale lesson plans for lots of suggestions, but also consider these collections:
- Classic Fairy Tales by Scott Gustafson is a good basic collection
- The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales gives good background and historical information for a nice selection of popular tales.
- The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm will surprise readers — I bet you’ve never heard of a lot of these stories.
- Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories
- The Complete Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault
- The Classic Treasury of Aesop’s Fables
- Mary Engelbreit’s Fairy Tales: Twelve Timeless Treasures is a good choice for students who’ll find the more scholarly collections hard to wade through.
- Around the World in 80 Tales is a very nice introduction to world folk and fairy tales.
- If you want to bring some special ambiance to your fairy tale book collection, try the Teamson Magic Garden Book Shelf.
Fairy tales just cry out to be acted out, so have some good stuff in your dramatic play area:
- The Alex Floor Standing Wooden Puppet Theater lets you have impromptu puppet plays at any time. Add a Fairy Tale puppet set and a Royal Family Puppets Set and you’ll have the characters needed for just about any fairy tale, or for students to make up their own new fairy tales.
Add a castle to your play area for imaginative play:
- Playmobil – Fairy Tale Castle or Knights Empire Castle I’m a big fan of Playmobil. Their castles can be built in a variety of ways, it’s equally appealing to boys and girls, the pieces are amazingly sturdy, and you can disinfect them. There are small pieces — put them away if you have toddlers, but K-2 students will enjoy the realism these small pieces offer to their play.
- Melissa & Doug Deluxe Folding Medieval Castle This is a good wooden castle that folds away. Melissa & Doug also make a Folding Princess Castle which may fit students’ mental images of fairy tale castles more precisely. Melissa & Doug make wooden toys with an eye to value. Add their Castle Dolls Playset or Royal Family Wooden Doll Set to either castle.
- Schleich Knight’s Castle is highly realistic, and likely to appeal to older students. Schleich makes action figures with a high level of detail, such as the Knight Courtier 3-pc. Set. There are lots of different characters and animals; tell parents you’re building a set and you can populate your castle over time.
- Lego offers castle play opportunities for kids who are more engaged with building than with imaginative play. LEGO Castle Trolls’ Mountain Fortress and LEGO® Castle Medieval Market Village both work well as fairy tale environments.
- For your Sand Table, the International Playthings Castle Bucket Set lets kids mold sand and create castles with it.
- Gamewright Castle Keep, the Game of Medieval Strategy and Siege is an award-winning board game that focuses on building castles.
- Fairy Tale Castle Floor Puzzle lets several kids work together on a puzzle. This one has 48 huge pieces, so it’s great for preschool and kindergarten.
- Little Tikes Climb and Slide Castle is an economical and compact way to bring some whole-body play into a corner of the preschool room or play yard.
Whether you’re setting up an entire castle-themed preschool or adding a special touch to intrigue your secondary-level students, something on this list should do the trick!