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I love using The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone to teach the elements of a fairy tale. This book fits perfectly, especially when it comes to finding something in sets of three or seven. After reading the book, use these fractured fairy tales lesson ideas to compare and contrast the original story with one of the amusing new versions.
What is a Fractured Fairy Tale?
Authors often take a fairy tale story that we all know and change it up a bit to retell it in a fun, new way. They might change the characters or setting, or switch the good and bad characters. They might make it funny or modern, or have new or different events. These new stories are called fractured fairy tales.
You’ll find a link at the bottom of the post to download this free fractured fairy tale chart.
Fractured Gingerbread Man Tales
A few of my favorite fractured Gingerbread Man tales include:
Set on a ranch in the desert, The Gingerbread Cowboy runs away from the cowboy and his wife. While he runs he sings “Giddyup, giddyup as fast as you can. You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man.” A horned lizard, roadrunner, javelinas, cattle and cowboys all try to catch The Gingerbread Cowboy. He thinks he’s going to escape with the help of a coyote, but the coyote tricks him into climbing on his back and then eats him.
Like the original story, this tale occurs on a farm in the country and includes a little old woman and man. The main character, however, is a gingerbread girl. She runs away from the little old woman and little old man, singing “I’ll run and I’ll run with a leap and a twirl. You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Girl!” The farmers, a pig, an artist, a cow, a dog walker and dogs, and school children all chase her. She finally meets a fox who thinks he’s finally going to catch her. She, however, outsmarts the fox, tying his mouth closed with a piece of licorice from her hair. Surprisingly, they become friends.
The Gingerbread Baby is one of my favorite Jan Brett books. The gingerbread baby runs from Matti and then eludes Matti’s mom and dad, a cat, dog, goats, Madeline and Martha, a pig, fox, villagers, and the milk and cheese man. While everyone is chasing the gingerbread baby, Matti is busy making a gingerbread house. He uses the house to catch the gingerbread baby at the end. The repeated phrase varies in this story but includes “Catch me if you can!”
Fractured Fairy Tales Lesson Ideas
- After reading the original Gingerbread Boy story, introduce fractured fairy tales. Go over the ways authors change a story to make it new.
- Choose a fractured Gingerbread Boy story to read. Tell students that they’re going to be “Difference Detectives”. As they listen to this new story, they think of how it’s different from the original.
- After reading, go back and find specific examples in the story of how it’s different. You might have students write the examples down.
A New Gingerbread Character
Give students the opportunity to create their own new gingerbread character!
This is a fun activity to send home with students to do with their family.
Write a Fractured Fairy Tale
Have students choose one or more of the ways authors change fairy tales to create their own fractured fairy tale. They might make a new version of The Gingerbread Boy or a different story. For young students, this might be a fun whole class story to write together.
Act It Out
Assign students to each character in the story. Have the students act out the story as you reread it again.
More Gingerbread Man Lessons
If you like these ideas, you might also be interested in my Gingerbread Man unit. The fractured fairy tale lesson above is from day three. The comprehensive, week-long unit includes detailed daily lesson plans and lots of fun, hands-on learning!