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Brothers GrimmBrothers-Grimm

  • Subject: Literature
  • |
  • Grade(s): K-5
  • |
  • Duration: One class period

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will understand the following:
1. Fairy tales connect us with earlier generations who enjoyed the same tales.
2. Fairy tales help us think about present situations we find ourselves in.
3. Magic figures prominently in fairy tales.
4. Fairy tales can inspire readers to create original works of art.


In addition to the materials listed below for students, the teacher may want to refer to The Art of Eric Carle (Philomel Books, 1996). Carle has produced illustrated books that retell Grimm fairy tales.
The fairy tale "The Fisherman and His Wife"
Thin acrylic watercolors or poster paint that has been watered down
Crayons or colored pencils
Brushes and sponges
White tissue paper, tracing paper
Adhesive glitter or glue and regular glitter (silver and gold glitter)
White poster board


1. After you and your students have read "The Fisherman and His Wife," suggest that each student create a fish collage using painted tissue paper. Begin by discussing the parts of a fish and the purpose of each part:
  • Head, pointed to cut through the water
  • Mouth in head to take in water
  • Gills for breathing the oxygen distilled from the water that the fish takes in through its mouth
  • Body, tapered toward the rear and ending in broad tail fin that propels fish forward
  • Other fins along the fish's body to stop the fish from rolling from side to side and to act as brakes
2. Direct each student to place a single sheet of white tissue paper on a clean surface.
3. Show students how to paint bold strokes in one color onto the tissue paper, lifting the paper up from time to time so that it doesn't stick to the surface.
4. Tell students to place their painted tissue paper on spread-out newspapers to dry.
5. When the painted tissue paper is dry, students should use a brush to paint on it in a second color, creating swirls, stripes, and dots. They may also decorate sections of the tissue paper with glitter.
6. Again the tissue paper needs to dry.
7. Repeat the process of adding another color over the previous ones and giving the repainted tissue paper a chance to dry. Students may use a sponge dipped in paint to apply additional colors at this point.
8. To make the collage, students should draw the outline of a fish on tracing paper, place the outline over one area of the painted tissue paper, and cut out part of the fish through the tracing paper and tissue paper. Then students should move the remaining part of their outline to another area of the painted tissue paper and cut out another part of the fish through the tracing paper and tissue paper. When the entire outline of the fish has been cut out, students should paste the different parts of the tissue-paper fish onto white poster board.
9. Encourage students to exchange pieces of painted tissue paper with one another to make everyone's collage more colorful.
10. Students should add finishing touches—showing, for example, gills and fins—with crayons, colored pencils, or more glitter.
11. Display students' collages around the classroom or in the school hallways.

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Have students make their fish collages resemble a specific kind of fish rather than merely a generic fish. For example, suggest that some students draw the outline of a flounder (or flatfish) and that others draw outlines of fish that look quite different from a flounder—for example, a dogfish, a turbot, or a swordfish.

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Discussion Questions

1. Discuss the three wishes each student would make upon meeting a magic fish. Then discuss whether their wishes are for themselves, for someone else they know, or for others in the world around them. Next ask them to make three new wishes, one in each of these categories. Discuss their reasoning behind each of their choices.
2. The fisherman comments, "It will not end well. It will not end well. Asking to be archbishop is too shameless." What does he mean by this, and what is he afraid will happen?
3. Discuss whether or not this fairy tale has a moral. Can a story have more than one lesson? Discuss the possibilities.

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You can evaluate students by using the following three-point rubric:
Three points: followed all directions in painting and decorating the tissue paper; worked neatly and safely, especially when using scissors; willingly shared decorated tissue paper with other students
Two points: followed most directions in painting and decorating the tissue paper; showed some carelessness, especially when using scissors; willingly shared decorated tissue paper with other students
One point: did not follow most directions in painting and decorating the tissue paper; worked carelessly, especially when using scissors; would not share decorated tissue paper with other students

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Comparing and Contrasting Grimm Tales
After students have become very familiar with "The Fisherman and His Wife," read another Grimm fairy tale to them—perhaps, "The Three Golden Hairs" or "The Frog King." Lead them in a discussion to see how the tales are similar and how they are different from one another. Draw students' attention to elements such as the following:
  • Magic
  • Hero
  • Hard or mean characters
  • Kind or innocent characters
  • Good actions and bad actions
  • Lesson or moral that the tale teaches

Changing Characters
Put your students into small groups. Give them the assignment to work in the groups to prepare new oral versions of the Grimm tales they have read—versions with different characters but the same lessons. For example, in "The Fisherman and His Wife," what might the fisherman find instead of a magic fish? In "The Three Golden Hairs," what if the queen were a king and the baby a boy instead of a girl? In "The Frog King," ask them to substitute two other characters in lieu of the princess and the frog.

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Suggested Readings

Grimms' Fairy Tales
by the brothers Grimm, Grosset & Dunlap, 1994.

Japanese Tales and Legends
Helen McAlpine, Oxford University Press, 1958; reprinted 1990.

Anno's Twice Told Tales: The Fisherman and His Wife & The Four Clever Brothers
The Brothers Grimm & Mr. Fox. Illustrated by Mitsumasa Anno, Philomel Books, 1993

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Biographical Notes for Eric Carle

The Official Eric Carle Web Site

Fairy Tales: The Frog Prince by the Brothers Grimm

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Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    animation
Definition: The act of making drawings appear to move.
Context: Making animation with paper and crayons.

speaker    cast
Definition: To throw a line or net into the water, usually with the intent of catching fish.
Context: Each morning he went down to the shore and cast his net for fish.

speaker    flounder
Definition: A type of fish, usually one that is also called a flatfish.
Context: One morning he was gazing into the clear, still water and suddenly pulled up a flounder with gold and silver scales.

speaker    archbishop
Definition: A religious leader who is the head of a church province or territory.
Context: Go to the flounder and tell him I want to be archbishop.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: K-2
Subject area: language arts
Demonstrates a familiarity with selected works of enduring quality.
Demonstrates a knowledge of the plots and major characters of selected classic fairy tales, folktales, legends, and fables from around the world.

Grade level: K-4
Subject area: visual arts
Understands the characteristics and merits of one's own artwork and the artwork of others.
Knows various purposes for creating works of visual art.

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Summer Productions, Inc.

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