Did you know there are more than 900 written Cinderella stories around the world? That’s a lot of shoes!!
One of the earliest Cinderella story versions dates to 1st Century BCE Egypt, where Rhodopis, a Greek slave girl marries the king of Egypt. In this version, Rhodopis is gifted a pair of golden slippers which a falcon (think Horus) steals and drops in front of the king who goes in search of the owner.
With so many stories and cultures to explore, discovering the magic of Cinderella stories from around the world is tops on my year-end activity list.
1) High Academic Value
I consider folktales and fairy tales to be Primary Source DBQs. They embody unique cultural truths and moral lessons passed down from generation to generation in a culture. Comparing Cinderella stories from multiple cultures enables your students to define similarities and differences between cultures.
2) High Engagement
My 6th graders already knew Disney’s Cinderella. But they had no idea that Cinderella stories were common to different cultures around the world. And they were super curious to explore.
I love that 6th graders are old enough to have fun reading “children’s books” through their big kid lens and discover the moral of each tale.
Because I chose Cinderella stories from the ancient cultures we’d studied, students picked up on even minor cultural references in each story. They felt smart! And pages full of pretty pictures with abbreviated text is welcome relief after a year of complex text.
3) Low Prep
I started my first year with 5-6 titles that dove-tailed off of the ancient cultures we had studied. I put together a quick chart to record “Cinderella Elements” and “Unique cultural elements” in each Cinderella story. We used the story map we’d already been using in Reading class all year.
After that first year, just pull out your books and copy your charts whenever you need. Did anybody say “Easy Peasy!?!”
I buy used books from Amazon which makes for a great gift card idea when parents ask!
If I have two class periods to fill, I might have each student read 1-2 different stories and complete the story elements chart and an abbreviated story map.
If I have a week, I might have them read 3-5 different stories and complete the story elements chart and a full story map. CAUTION: too many Cinderella stories gets monotonous. Less is better than more, especially with so many similarities.
With a second week, we’d plan and write our own “Cinderella” story/poem/song/play/comic. Cinderella doesn’t have to be female and Prince Charming is the end game, which is a metaphor for reaching a goal – any goal. I love giving students free reign to make this their own.
5) Easy to Differentiate
I use Charles Perrault’s Cendrillon story as my anchor text. Since it provided the inspiration for Walt Disney, it contains most of the iconic Cinderella elements. After modeling our analysis with Cendrillon, I turn students loose to read and analyze at their own pace.
Friend groups of 2-3 work well. Students take turns reading and the “aha moments” are priceless. Group reading also means I need fewer books.
Because this Cinderella story unit is self-paced and self-directed, it’s a perfect activity for your Early Finishers or for Extra Credit.
In my small private school, I taught social studies, math, and reading. Lots of preps, YES!! But also lots of opportunity for cross curricular projects like Cinderella Stories Around the World.
We hit on our ancient cultures from Social Studies.
We mapped story structure to appreciate that well written literature holds your interest because it is well structured.
And my ELA partner teacher was always happy to knock off creative writing standards when students wrote their own Cinderella stories. Win win win!!
7) Easy to Start
If you’re ready to introduce Cinderella stories to your students, you’ll want to look at my Cinderella Stories Around the World Resource. I’ve included charts to record cultural and Cinderella story elements, story maps, planning sheets for an original Cinderella story, and Answer Keys for the stories listed below. Just add hard copy books and you’re off to the ball!
- Cendrillon by Charles Perrault (France)
- Aschenputtel by Bros Grimm (Germany)
- Anklet for a Princess by Lila Mehta (India)
- The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo (Egypt)
- Yeh-Shen by Aei-Ling Louis (China)
- The Persian Cinderella by Shirley Climo (Persis/Iran)
- Cinderella: an Islamic Tale by Fawzia Gilani (Saudi Arabia/Islam)
- The Orphan by Anthony L. Manna and Soula Mitakidou (Greece)
- Raisel’s Riddle by Erica Silverman (Poland/Jewish)
- Zezolla, the Cat Cinderella by Giambattista Basile (Italy)
- Chinye by Obi Onyefulu (West Africa)
- Domitila by ewell Reinhart Coburn (Mexico)
- The Golden Sandal by Rebecca Hickox (Iraq)
8) Let’s Keep in Touch!
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Enjoy your teaching journey!