Fairytale Improv

Educational Objective:

Students will demonstrate their abilities to create a cohesive story and definite characters while thinking quickly on their feet through the creation of a short fairytale improvisation in groups.



Materials Needed:

• “Little Red Riding Hood” written up on the white board
• The following bulleted list written up on the white board beneath the title of Little Red Riding Hood:
o Mother gives Little Red the errand to go to sick Grandmother’s home to deliver goodies and medicine
o Mother tells Little Red to not talk to strangers or stray from the path
o Little Red sets off through the woods to Grandmother’s home
o Little Red meets Wolf
o Wolf gains Little Red’s trust and asks where she is going; Little Red tells him
o Wolf beats Little Red to Grandmother’s home and eats Grandmother, then dresses in Grandmother’s clothing
o Little Red gets to Grandmother’s home and is eaten by Wolf
o Wolf falls asleep and Woodcutter hears his snore
o Woodcutter enters home and finds sleeping Wolf
o Woodcutter cuts the Wolf’s belly open and saves Grandmother and Little Red
• At least four different colors of whiteboard markers
• Timer




Divide the students into three groups and have them play a round of “Pop-Up Story Book” in each group. This is a game learned when teaching storytelling elements. Ask the students to remember to keep in mind CROW and storytelling.




After the students return to their seats, ask them if the fairy tale presented in this story had a definite plot. Were the characters and their relationships clear? How important was it to the audience (if there was one) to see these elements of storytelling through CROW? How much of the tale was the storyteller’s? (The answer to this is the entire thing–they are just given a title to work with.) Does this mean the storyteller was a type of director?
Bring the students’ attention to the whiteboard and the story points written on it. Ask them if this story is familiar. Are the points open enough for interpretation if the storyteller in “Pop-Up Story Book” had to follow these? Yes, it should be! That’s where imagination comes in! Inform the students that this type of listing of a plot is called a plot point. They will be creating a plot point to a well-known fairy tale or fable (they can do Disney if they want, but try to have them steer clear of it, as they are not the actual fairy tales) in groups. The style of the performance will not be in “Pop-Up Story Book” style, however–it will be more like an open scene.


Step 1 (Instruction): Count off the students into four different groups and have them go to their own area of the room. Instruct the students, once they are in their groups and in the area they need to be in, that they are to have a scribe write the plot points of a fairy tale or fable on the board that they will perform for the class at the end of the period. Urge them to stick to a short one, as their performances will only be allowed to be three minutes long. This is one of the reasons that Disney movies are not good things to go off of. Let them know that duplicate stories will not be allowed, so the titles of the stories must be listed on the board (each group using a different color to help differentiate). The group who writes the story up on the board first is the one that will perform that story. Their performances will be worth ten points, and the only way to receive those points are to make sure that everyone is fully involved and participating.


Step 2 (Group Work): Give the teams time to discuss what story they will perform and write it on the board, and then have them discuss plot points. When they have figured them out, the scribe must write the plot points in on the white board beneath the name of their story. All groups should have their plot points on the board for the class to observe. This should not be more than ten minutes. Enter conversations with each group as necessary as you go around and listen to their discussions and ideas.


Step 3 (Instruction): Ask the students to cast their stories. Each member of each group must have a large role in the skit, though that can mean that one person is all of the props. Ask the groups to please be aware of who would like to play what role and that everyone must feel that he or she is able to fully contribute to the creation of this story. When they have cast their stories, they are to rehearse their outline with one another. Remind them that this will be done in a proscenium style, so be aware of where the audience is and what they are able to see.


Step 4 (Group Practice): The groups should be given about fifteen to twenty minutes to practice their outlined stories. Remind the students that they are only allowed to perform for three minutes, so they must all be on the same page of what is most important to get the story told. Go around to each group, helping as necessary. Make sure that each student is engaged in the creation of the piece, reminding them that they will not be receiving their points if they are not an obvious help/participant in this story. Keep notes of what students are slacking off (minus one point for each time this happens).


Step 5/Assessment: Let the groups perform their stories for the class in the style of a proscenium stage. Help them as they perform to realize if they are blocking one another or if they are too far upstage. Keep them to the time limit by giving a 30-second warning. Award the ten points (which are participation based, as mentioned) to the individual students accordingly in the grade book. Make sure to ask after each performance what the strengths and weaknesses were. Were all of the elements of storytelling and CROW observed? How much improvisation was still allowed even with the plot points?