Age Range: 5 - 11
By: Mark Warner
"Hansel and Gretel" is one of the darkest and greatest of the Grimms Brothers' classic fairytales, a powerful story of courage and cruelty, weakness and intense love.
Book Author: Jane Ray
See More Books from this author
Teaching Ideas and Resources:
- This story has been 'retold' by Jane Ray. What does this mean? Can you find other stories that have been retold?
- Can you retell and illustrate your favourite story?
- Find different versions of this story. Which one do you prefer? Why?
- Use the speech within the text to create a play script. Could you perform this with some friends or use puppets?
- Imagine that you were taken into a forest. What is it like? How would you describe it??(see Resources below)
- Make a recipe to teach someone how to make a house of sweets?(see Resources below).
- Imagine that you were standing in front of the house made of sweets. What can you see / smell / touch / hear / taste? Think of lots of different words to describe your different senses.
- The old woman in the house is 'as old as the hills'. Can you think of other similes to describe her / the other characters in the story?
- The Brothers Grimm wrote the original fairy tale. Can you find out what other stories they wrote? If you could interview them today, what questions would you like to ask them?
- Could you plan and perform a trailer for the story. Look at this example for inspiration:
- Watch these different retellings of the story. How are they similar / different? Which do you prefer?
- Look at the different shapes in the illustrations. How many squares / rectangles / circles (etc) can you find?
- Look at the patterns in the illustrations. Can you make your own patterns like these?
- Make a timeline showing the main events in the story and the times / days that they happened.
- The pebbles that Hansel drops shine in the moonlight. Why do things shine / reflect light? Can you think of other reflective materials that might be able to help the children find their way home?
- How many animals can you identify in the illustrations?
- Make a stop-motion animation that retells this popular story.
- Can you create some puppets of the main characters in the story and use these to retell it to an audience?
- Can you make a house made out of sweets (or one that looks like it is made of sweets!)?
- Can you create your own illustrations for the story?
- Compose a piece of music to use in a movie / musical theatre version of the story.
- Make a story map that shows the main places and events that take place in the story.
Find out about the Brothers Grimm. What famous events in history took place while they were alive?
- Carry out role play activities linked to the story, e.g. hot seating / interviewing characters from the story. How are they feeling at particular points, or 'Conscience Corridor' activities - should Hansel and Gretel go into the gingerbread house?
Encourage children to experiment with taking on different points of view in a familiar fairy story. Looking at point of view shows how people can experience the same event and come away with very different impressions.
Can they tell the story of Hansel and Gretel from the witch’s perspective? The story of Jack and the Beanstalk from the giant’s point of view? How about trying to tell the story of Cinderella from the point of view of one of the ugly sisters?
Here are some great books to read with your class that tell traditional tales from different points of view.
- The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, is told from the wolf’s point of view.
- The Other Side of the Story series by Picture Window Books (Tales include Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and more.)
This series of books includes several familiar traditional tales told with great humour from the perspective of the villain of the story.
If you are exploring a story character’s personality or their point of view, here are two great drama exercises you can try with your class to deepen their understanding, stretch their imaginations and give them ideas before writing anything.
Role on the Wall
A Role on the Wall exercise asks students in pairs or small groups to draw a large outline of a body onto sugar paper, then write on the inside and outside of it to represent what they know about one chosen character’s inner and outer worlds.
To capture the inner world and personal perspective of the character they’ve chosen, participants write words or short sentences on the inside of the body about thoughts and emotions. If they’re not sure about the person’s inner world, they can write things in the form of a questions.
On the outside of the body, students write words about the character’s physical appearance and how the other characters in the story see them.
Stick these outlines to the classroom wall, so that they can be viewed by the rest of the class. If you have time the children can colour the characters in or use fabric scraps to dress them as long as their words are still visible.
In Hot Seating, someone takes on the role of a character from the story you are exploring.
He or she is then questioned by a small group or the whole class about their background, behaviour or motivation. The person in the hot seat must answer as if they were that character. They can use the content of the story to help them but importantly can use their own ideas and thoughts as to the character’s reasons and answers.
It’s always a good idea to give the rest of the class time to consider what questions they want to ask. Some of these might be generated in discussion or be found in the Role on the Wall exercise.
You could try imagining the hot seat taking place in a courtroom or interrogation room, or on the set of a TV talk show. For those who are the jury or police or audience the exercise can really help develop questioning skills.