Fairy Tales: Comparing and Contrasting

Fairy tales are made up stories written for children that usually include magic of some sort.  You have probably heard of many fairy tales: Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, the Three Little Pigs, Snow White, etc.  Children love to hear these stories again and again. Because fairy tales have so many similarities, they are perfect to practice comparing and contrasting different stories.

Comparisons between Fairy Tales

Many fairy tales have similar elements weaved into each story in a different way. Comparing focuses on what is the same in a story.

  • They often show the comparison between good and evil so there will be an evil character (the big, bad wolf, the wicked stepmother, or the evil queen) and there will also be the good, innocent character (the three pigs, Cinderella, or Snow White).
  • Most of the time in a fairy tale, the good is rewarded at the end of the story and the bad character is punished in some way.  (Cinderella marries the prince, and the stepmother and sisters are forced to work for her.)
  • Many fairy tales will also involve magic and royalty.
  • Fairy tales often begin with “Once upon a time” and end with “and they lived happily ever after.”
  • The number three is seen in many fairy tales as well. (The three girls in Cinderella, the three little pigs, characters are sometimes given three chances)

Contrasts between Fairy Tales

You will of course be able to find differences between any two fairy tales.  The characters will be different, and the actual events of the story will be different.  Contrasting points out the things that are different in the two stories.  Cinderella is forced to work for her stepmother, but Snow White eats a poisoned apple.  The wolf in the three little pigs story is boiled in a pot, but the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood is killed by the woodsman.  No matter how similar a story seems there are always differences.

Using Fairy Tales to Compare and Contrast

I would start by choosing two of your child’s favorite fairy tales.  Read both stories through one time with a piece of paper.  Write down all the ways that the stories are the same on that sheet of paper with the heading Compare.  Then reread the stories looking specifically for differences.  Write down the differences on a separate sheet of paper with the heading Contrast.  Finally use the two lists to fill in a Venn Diagram.  (You could even go further with this and use it as the basis for a compare and contrast essay.  Have your child write a paragraph about the comparisons, a paragraph about the contrasts, an introduction paragraph, and a conclusion paragraph.)

Fairy tales are fun and they generally teach good lessons about how it is better to be good than evil.  They are also a great way to review comparing and contrasting with your child.  So pick your two favorite fairy tales and have some fun with them today!

What are your favorite fairy tales to read with your children?

Photo by:  Pascal

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