“Fairy tales don’t condone poor behavior; they simply relate what occurs. Children learn very early that there are good people, bad people, kind people, cruel people, and assortments of behavior in between. And children have room in their lives for all sorts of miracles…. an active imagination [is] a token of the liberty of childhood.” (Gladys Hunt, Honey For A Child’s Heart)
Over the past 2 weeks it worked out that we could fit 6 classic stories into our regularly-scheduled Letter Unit activities: 3 stories fit in with letter G (Gingerbread, Goat, Goldilocks) and 3 stories fit for letter H (Hens and Houses). This post summarizes all that we did for each story.
This is not meant to serve as a perfectly planned-out curriculum: it’s simply a picture of what we actually did. I hope there’s something useful here to you!
I adore Paul Galdone’s versions of the following classic stories — both for the storytelling and the illustrations:
- The Gingerbread Boy
- The Three Bears
- The Three Billy Goats Gruff
- Henny Penny
- The Little Red Hen
- The Three Little Pigs
Gladys Hunt notes: “Children have been enjoying Galdone’s renditions for generations” (Honey for a Child’s Heart), and I couldn’t agree more. The audiobook versions for each of these are also excellent and worth finding! Galdone has a number of other classic stories beyond what I chose, but I stuck to just these six because: (1) they fit in with our Letter G and Letter H units, and (2) these are specifically mentioned in Honey for a Child’s Heart.
We also love the Heather Forest song versions of several of these stories on her Sing Me A Story album:
- The Little Red Hen
- The Three Billy Goats Gruff
- Mr. Bun (similar to The Gingerbread Boy)
Honorable mention to Jan Brett’s version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears! A gorgeous book.
Alright, here we go…
THE GINGERBREAD BOY
|Obviously: Bake a gingerbread boy! My kids helped with the whole baking process plus worked on forming the letter G (I gave them extra dough to just play with & smash and roll and cut — and they made a huge floury mess).
We enjoyed eating our gingerbread boy during our poetry tea time and read the poem “The Three Foxes” from When We Were Very Young.
*Bonus activity to burn off the sugar high from gingerbread: take turns pretending to be the gingerbread boy and chase each other around! I’m serious.
|In the story the old woman uses raisins to make the buttons for the gingerbread boy. We counted out some raisins into a numbered muffin tin with jumbo tweezers for a fine motor skill & simple counting exercise. Then… we snacked on some raisins!|
THE THREE BEARS
|We retold the story using our Goldilocks peg dolls (available on my Etsy shop) [note: currently sold out but I’m making more] and dollhouse furniture.|
|Big, medium, little sorting activity. We had a huge line of items on the floor that I couldn’t capture in a picture well so I just set up this little sampling. The kids really had fun with this, hunting around toy bins.|
|For our poetry tea time we had big, medium, and little bowls of porridge (recipe via The Peaceful Preschool)!|
|We acted out the story in a little play house in the woods we have on the camp property where we live. There’s three of us so we just took turns being Goldilocks (my 2 year old needs prompting for this but she’s all in).|
THE THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF
|We read The Three Billy Goats Gruff and G is for Goat (the cutest little A-Z book ever).
We also made a G using grass my son cut (see below) — the kids applied glue to our Letter G printout (from The Peaceful Preschool) with a Q-tip first and then placed the grass.
We also adore the Heather Forest song version for The Three Billy Goats (from Sing Me Story)
|TRIP TRAP rhythm stick song: The Three Billy Goats (simplified version) via Jbrary by Dana and Lindsey. I don’t try to memorize these songs in advance when we do them: I just watch the video with my kids and we learn it together and repeat it. We also don’t have real rhythm sticks: we just use unsharpened pencils that I got at the Target Dollar Spot. We also used the rhythm sticks to make the trip-trapping rhythm on our wood bridge.|
|Cut some great green grass. A free and zero-setup scissor skills activity! Seriously: this will occupy your scissor-loving kiddo forever.|
|Small world sensory bin & invitation to play. I used rocks, blue-dyed rice for water, and grass we collected in the morning from the scissor activity above. We retell the story together but also listen to the audiobook or the story song version.|
|Act out the story on a bridge: There’s nothing more satisfying than stomping your feet across a bridge pretending to be a trip-trapping billy goat!|
|Act out the Henny Penny story in sequence. The repetition used in this story is so great for memory recall & story sequencing. I think it helps to have the animals for storytelling, BUT don’t spend money for just one story: you could also print out some animal pictures and put them on popsicle sticks and hold them up as you tell the story.|
|What’s Missing?” game: who did the fox eat? I set up this tunnel from our train track set, called it the fox’s cave, then had my kids close their eyes while I hid one of the birds in the cave and then asked them to open their eyes and tell me who the fox ate. A really simple setup for a game that enhances object + word identification and skill using visual clues for association & identification. You could even hide them in order that the animals appear in the story to enhance the recall of the plot sequencing|
|Spell out book-related words using our movable alphabet. These are a free printable from my F is for Farm unit (you can get the full PDF here). We also looked at the hens, roosters, ducks, geese, and turkeys in our lovely Farm Anatomy book.|
|In the story an acorn falls from the tree to hit Henny Penny in the head. We counted out acorns on to our number cards. These number cards are from The Peaceful Preschool curriculum and we use them every week.|
|Practical life skill activity: dust pan use to clean up acorns.
This wood tray is from Target
|We threaded oak leaves (oak trees make acorns!) in to our stick loom for a fun fall-themed nature study + fine motor skill handcraft activity. We’ve been using our stick looms a lot lately so it was fun to loosely connect it to Henny Penny on the day we read it 🙂|
THE LITTLE RED HEN
|Storytelling for The Little Red Hen.
We read through the story together one time with no aids. Then, the second time through I brought all the storytelling aids out: hen, cat, dog, & mouse, and then a divided tray with wheat seeds (it’s actually pearled barley), wheat plant (a grass plume from our yard), flour, and bread.
The other book pictured is is Alain Gree’s book The Farm which has this awesome page called “The story of bread” that helps reinforce the story of the little red hen making cake from wheat seeds.
We also love listening to and singing along with Heather Forest’s version of this tale (from Sing Me Story).
|Sensory play and scooping & pouring. After baking bread (see below) the kids just played with all the wheat seeds, plants, flour, bread, and bread dough. The kitchen floor was an insane mess when it was over, but they were so engaged and loving it. They were scooping and pouring and smashing to their hearts’ content all morning.|
|Wheat learning: wheat seeds (it’s actually pearled barley), wheat plant (a grass plume from our yard), flour, and bread.
I gave my son a tray of the wheat seeds to practice forming the letter H. I love love love our tray for sensory letter writing — it’s deep so it doesn’t spill out easily and small so they form the letters in a reasonable size.
Book pictured: Food Anatomy (the bread pages in this book were also super fun to look at!)
|The kids made their own bread!!
I use the master recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day — it’s literally impossible to get bad bread even if you have zero baking skills! It’s SO EASY. It’s a no-knead dough with only 4 ingredients and take two seconds to prep. The kids can mash the dough and form it in to ANY SHAPE and it will bake perfect and delicious.
|For poetry tea time on this Little Red Hen day, we read two fun hen poems: “The Little Black Hen” from Now We Are Six and “The Clucking Hen” from A Child’s Book of Poems. And, we had some snacks-that-come-from wheat!|
THE THREE LITTLE PIGS
||The Three Little Pigs is a perfect H is for House story! We read that book and How A House is Built by Gail Gibbons, and then I set up an invitation to build houses out of straw, sticks, and brick.
This also served as an invitation to retell the story as we went house by house and huffed and puffed to blow the houses down!
|Blow pigs off the table with a straw (we used pigs from our Pass the Pigs game since they are little and light)
Blowing through a straw helps strengthen the mouth muscles needed for proper speech. Plus, it’s fun!
|Form the letter H using sticks & bricks! H is definitely easier than G 🙂|