Little Red, Pretty Salma, Petite Rouge, Little Roja, Lon Po Po. The list goes on and on. And it’s a pretty good list, eh? Rm. 202 thinks so! (Do you know what it’s a list of?) We have just begun a study much like one (only better!) that we did last year. And you know how I told you about this thing I have the other day? Yeah…well I am afraid that because of that thing I didn’t tell you about that awesome study last year. UGH! Luckily things have changed, though, and I’m starting this story much earlier. 🙂
This quarter we’re studying culture, and because of the unit I found last year (I used a variation of this Cinderella unit from First Grade Wow. It went SMASHINGLY and was a great combination of literature, non-fiction text, culture AND geography. It was also tons of fun to boot, which increased the engagement with a topic that is already generally interesting for first graders. Win, win, win all around!
So this year when we came to this culture/geography time of year again (which in our curriculum usually happens in January), I knew I wanted to try something similar to what we had done last year. The big idea of the unit is that folktales and fairytale can tell you something about culture. When talking about culture, it is also important to understand the geography related to that culture; where the people live and why they might do the things they do there is essential to the puzzle. Makes sense then, that all of those things would be connected–integrating subjects gives students multiple ways to make new information fit in with old knowledge and therefore make for stronger pathways to memory and understanding. And honestly, making the unit include multiple subjects and topics helps time-wise. Fitting it all in is always a concern for teachers, and this helps me get it all in.
Starting with framework from last year, I collected books. The Cinderella theme worked so well and I knew I had to find another fairy tale or folktale that both had multiple versions, as well as a story that would interest my students. There were obviously many choices, but I went with Little Red Riding Hood. This story was familiar enough (like Cinderella), but also had many variations, and had interesting characters we could study, as well.
Our focus is to be using the fairy tales and folktales to analyze story structure, characters and main idea, as well as compare and contrast different versions. Eventually we’ll probably write about our favorite version, trying to convince our readers why it’s the best with strong evidence from the text. We will also study geographical concepts like continents, countries (and how they’re different from states and cities, as well as what our country is), bodies of water and regions–this one is new this year. Besides just studying cultures of other places (which was our main focus last year), we’re incorporating the idea of regions of our own country this time; there are stories from both different countries and US regions in this unit. We’ll analyze maps, talk about how they work and what information they give us, put stars on the places from where our stories come, color and label maps and talk about the places we know about (as well as places we wonder about). Eventually then, students will choose one culture to learn more about, and research it. This will incorporate with our next writing unit, and then will still touch reading and social studies skills and concepts, too.
And here’s the part where the “messy” of writing about this starts. Previously, I would have waited until the very end of the study, hoping to include all the details and pictures, including fabulous videos of us presenting our final products. Like I mentioned earlier, that often meant that I then didn’t even get around to writing about ANY of it–usually because I either forgot the details, ran out of steam or just didn’t have time. And yeah, it makes me sad that it’s missing on the blog. So here we go. You might want to wear gloves. Or a poncho. Maybe goggles or a raincoat?
First let me share our booklist. I compiled it from a variety of places online, as well as just by standing forever in front of the fairytale section of my library with a crooked neck reading books spines. I know–I’m a glutton for punishment. It’s really not so easy, either, by the way, because they’re organized not just by story, but by author and by country. Oh, and then they’re the ones that aren’t so obvious because they don’t have ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ in the title. Anyhow…
We are using stories from Germany (the original), China (we have two from this culture, actually), Ghana, Spain, as well as from at least 4 regions in the US (and maybe another one that I’ve forgotten. Told you this was messy!!!).
- Little Red Cap by the Brothers Grimm and Little Red Riding Hood by Sam McBratney
- Lon PoPo by Ed Young and Auntie Tiger by Laurence Yep
- Pretty Salma by Niki Daly
- Little Roja Riding Hood by Susan Middleton Elya
- Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood by Mike Artell
- Little Red Riding Hood: A Newfangled Prairie Tale by Lisa Campbell Ernst
- Little Red Cowboy Hat by Susan Lowell
While those are the “official” titles, we are also going to enjoy some others that will be specifically for the reading part of the study, where we can study version, point-of-view and character. Those include (at least for now!):
- Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz
- The Wolf’s Story: What Really Happened to Little Red Riding Hood by Toby Forward
Very Little Red Riding Hood by Teresa Heapy
- Red Riding and the Sweet Little Wolf by Rachael Mortimer
Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!: The Story of Little Red Riding Hood as Told by the Wolf (The Other Side of the Story) by
- Super Red Riding Hood by Claudia Da′vila
I’m excited to share more pages to our story as we go along! 🙂