Using Fairy Tales

An lesson plan in Civic Education for the English as a Foreign Language classroom
contributed by Nuray Luk Yilmaz, with additions by Jeanina Umana,
University of Costa Rica


In class as we were discussing how a good discussion should be, one student started to say something and I started looking at my watch, the ceiling, my shoes, etc. The student was distracted and then she stopped. I smiled and asked her how she felt. She said "bad." We then discussed the fact that we really should listen to the participants and try to understand how they feel or what they are trying to say. They all agree that we have to listen to each other but when it comes to really trying to understand each other we have difficulty. For example, one student was trying to say "... we can't remake our identities, our cultures, our societies." I could understand her because I had read Andrew's letter about Civil society :) but the other students had their own fixed ideas about democracy. Therefore, we decided that we should try to see the other participants' ideas.

Here is a fun lesson that might achive this.

This lesson plan is based on a story book titled "The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs." It is interesting that I bought this for a child but I enjoyed it tremendously. The summary of the story is "The wolf gives his own outlandish version of what really happened when he tangled with the three little pigs." It is hillarious but thought provoking, too. Truth may have different faces.

Step 1:

Ask the students to think of a classic tale.

Step 2:

Divide the students in groups depending on which tale they chose.

Step 3:

In each group ask each individual to rewrite the story from the point of view of one of the characters without changing the plot.

Step 4:

Ask the individuals to read their versions of the story.

Step 5:

Ask the group to determine the "differences" in the stories and the reasons for these variations.

Step 6:

Ask them to discuss how these differing points might effect the society in the story.

Step 7:

Finally, have the students to relate this to the "hot" issues in their countries.


I [Jeanina Umana] would like to respond to Nuray's lesson plan enthusiastically because IT REALLY WORKS! I have tried that exactly--same story. It is a small world after all. The only thing my colleague and I have added is an old film cartoon that portrays the wolf as the Japanese in WWII and the 3 little pigs as soldiers of different nationalities--an old version of the good, the bad and the ugly. We think this is an excellent addition because it always makes students react more critically to what they have read to as children's literature, as well as to the media. Sometimes they get pretty upset, too, and we should be prepared to deal with that if we are teaching adults and young adults. The cartoon has been great to help show them how different socializing processes help shape our cultural perspective. And that is essential if we want to differentiate between accepting and understanding different cultural perspectives. Maybe that will help us convey the difference between static and dynamic notions about democracy and the role of civil society in its construction.

Back to CIVTEFL-L Home page


On October 1, 1999, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will become part of the
U.S. Department of State. Bureau webpages are being updated accordingly. Thank you for your patience.