Let’s read Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The title links you to a simple, traditional telling of the story, with pictures.
In the story, a little girl named Goldilocks goes into the house of a bear family and tastes their porridge (which they have left cooling while they went for a walk), tries out their chairs, and sleeps in their beds. In each case, she finds one of the choices “just right!” At the end, the bears come home and find Goldilocks asleep. She awakens, is frightened, and leaps out the window and runs home.
There are plenty of good picture book versions out there:
- Jan Brett has a classic version of the story. She also has postcards with illustrations from the story that you can email. What a nice way to introduce the unit to your students!
- We like her new polar bear version, The Three Snow Bears
- Jim Aylesworth did a nice retro look.
- James Marshall always has a different twist.
- Caralyn Buehner has a fun goofy one.
- Paul Galdone can always be counted upon for a classic story.
- Mary Engelbreit included this story in her Nursery and Fairy Tales Collection.
Once you’ve read the story, it’s time to make sure everyone understood it.
- Use Bloom’s Taxonomy to develop discussion questions for the story. (In case this isn’t usual in your neck of the woods, that means questions requiring different levels of understanding to answer.) The link takes you to an explanation of Bloom’s Taxonomy with example questions for “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”
- Jim Aylesworth offers some discussion questions for use when you have read several different picture book versions of the story. One of the questions I find interesting was this: should the bears wear clothes?
- Kendra Sisk has a fun way to use a graphic organizer to structure the class retelling of the story.
- EFL Playhouse has a jazz chant version of the tale which can be learned and used in acting out the story.
- Simple masks help in acting out the story.
- Zoom has a reader’s theater version.
- This is a great time to bring out your Three Bear Family math manipulatives to sort by size and weight.
- Jan Brett has coloring page of the three bears (plus Hedgie). Put some copies in a file folder with crayons for kids who need an absorbing and quiet few minutes alone.
- The automatic Goldilocks story generator could be a fun computer center.
- Snapdragon’s Goldilocks story is another good computer option. Young kids can read the story online, and have the option of clicking on the dialog lines to hear them spoken (in Welsh accents). The story is followed by an interactive word-recognition game, with the option to “play again” at the end. If you prefer American English, though, Noggin has a computer cartoon version of the story. There are no words to read, but there is a coloring page to print out, and a sequencing picture puzzle.
- Put a big stack of decorating magazines, a pair of scissors, construction paper, and glue together in a box. Let kids cut out three chairs and glue them in size order on a sheet of paper. Punch holes and make a class book.
- Instead of a center, use the decorating magazine idea above to work on vocabulary. Kids could choose three chairs where one is “too baroque” and another is “too minimalist,” or one is “too angular” and another is “too rounded.” Challenge students to use adjectives from their vocabulary frontier zone, and make a bulletin board display of the results.
- “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” is great for practicing the use of “too” as in “too big” or “too small” with ESL students.
- Also in the computer centers, you can hear the story of Goldilocks in different regional varieties of English. This could be a good opportunity to discuss the idea that English is spoken all over the world, and sounds different in different places. If you’re interested in linguistic diversity, you might also like a sign language version of the story.
- Rick Walton has a collection of as many different versions of the story as possible — good, bad, and ridiculous. This could provide inspiration for students to write their own versions.
- The “Goldilocks Rules” help kids choose a book that is neither too hard nor too easy. My quick rule of thumb: read one page, and if there are four or more unknown words, the book is too hard. The rules at this site are much more in-depth, and would make a good start to a discussion of how kids can choose books for their own reading over the summer.
- The natural math connection for this story is size. If your class is beyond that, consider bringing in ratio. For example, if the three bears were polar bears, the Papa Bear would likely be twice the size of the Mama Bear. If you are using picture books, you can measure the various larger and smaller things in the pictures and calculate their relative sizes.
- Here is an online demonstration called “Goldilocks and the Three Similar Triangles.” It has nothing to do with the story, but it is very cool.
- The Three Bear Family math manipulatives don’t necessarily have much to do with the story, either, but my basic principle for theme units is this: use the natural, sensible connections, but also stretch the point a little to include things that were on your to-do list anyway. So I say use those bears for any math practice the students still need.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears is one of the most beloved fairy tales for young children. It also has one of the naughtiest heroines around. While small children don’t necessarily grasp the misbehavior of Jack with his magic beans and can readily forgive Little Red Riding Hood for her careless lollygagging, they know that Goldilocks had no business making free with the bears’ house.
Take advantage of the clarity of the moral issue here:
- Have students write a letter from Goldilocks, apologizing for her behavior.
- Make a list of the things Goldilocks did, compared with the things she should have done. This can be an excellent grammar lesson for ESL or for kids who get confused about verb forms in their writing. I like a Pocket Chart for this.Have students write groups of sentences like these: “Goldilocks went into the bears’ house. She should not have gone into the bears’ house. She should have waited for them to invite her in.” Take it a step further by having students write a paragraph beginning, “If I were Goldilocks, I would have…”
- Use a Kidzone lesson plan to guide students to rewrite the story from the point of view of a crime reporter.
- Use a Beacon lesson plan (which includes the PDF file “Bop-a-Roo Goldilocks”) to study pitch. Actually, that lesson plan has you, the teacher, perform a jazzy rap sort of thing while the kids accompany you on the glockenspiel. If you are not up for that, just consider that pitch is in the science and the music frameworks, and use the story to study it more simply. Papa Bear has a big growly voice with a low pitch, Mama Bear has a medium voice with a medium pitch, and Baby Bear has a little voice with a high pitch. On the second or third reading of the story, have students use instruments or voices to make appropriate pitches for each bear as he or she comes up in the story. Practice the high, medium, and low voices of the bears. Read the story with the wrong voices, making the Baby Bear have a low growly voice and the Papa Bear have a high squeaky one, and let the kids correct you. You know they love that.
- Kididdles has a nice setting of the story to music. There is a midi file and lyrics, so you can sing this with the class.
- Here is a bear-themed lesson on head and chest voice. It uses Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, but there is no reason it couldn’t use “The Three Bears” instead.
- Bears do not actually live in family groups. Hardly any creatures do. Have students research how bears really live (as individuals, except for the brief time that cubs live with their mothers) and which animals actually live in nuclear family groups (humans, swans, marmosets, a few other birds and lizards).
- The Goldilocks Zone is a term used to describe places that can support life as we know it. Try an experiment about atmospheric gasses that clarifies this idea. Here is the teacher guide for it.
- The Toymaker has finger puppets for this story to download, and she also has a science quandary. Since the Papa Bear had the biggest bowl of porridge and the Baby Bear had the smallest, shouldn’t the Papa Bear’s porridge be the hottest and the Baby Bear’s the coldest? Test the hypothesis with bowls of porridge, or beakers of water.
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