The Kindergartners are using their interest in fairy tales as a way to make connections with other cultures. The students have noticed some similarities in theme and differences in settings of the stories. Many of the fairy tales we have read are written by authors from different counties and also take place in other lands: Africa, China, Italy, Germany, Denmark and more. As we explore tales from other places and times, the kindergartners are developing an awareness and openness to human culture from earlier stretches of history.
One of the authors we’ve most enjoyed is Danish author Hans Christian Anderson. Not only have the students retold stories through artwork and creative dramatics, they’ve learned from “The Snow Queen” and “The Ugly Duckling” that outward appearances can be deceiving and how it is a mistake “to judge a book by its cover.” Children are inquisitive about ancient literature if they can be shown to relate somehow to their present lives.
These stores bring many questions to the kindergartners’ minds about the characters and why some are evil or behave in that manner. We have speculated and considered some reasons why the Snow Queen didn’t practice the Golden Rule. Was it because, as Hailey suggested, “Maybe because her mom and dad just treated her mean,” or as Vaughn said, “Maybe she eated ice and it got into her heart and turned her bad.” Fairy tales not only contain beauty and wisdom, but they propel our minds into endless forests and animals of the natural world, and we might consider how human culture has contributed to global warming and the extinction of many mammals. The kindergartners contemplate on what will happen when people and cities need more land, food, water and energy than the world can give.
Children have an insatiable desire for stories that hold the promise of deep meaning, life lessons and hope. As the kindergartners explore the connections of fairy tales to human culture and environmental science, they are realizing that one tale can hold multiple meanings for us today.