Old Tales Told New Ways: Fairy Tales as Story Prompts

Old Tales Told New Ways: Fairy Tales as Story Prompts

Combining storytelling and story-making activities for primary and elementary students, this residency takes place over five sessions to provide time for students to steep in traditional stories and brew full-bodied drafts of their original tales. Content can be modified for students with special needs. Add-on options available.

For all grades, the first two sessions focus on listening to traditional folktales, their multicultural variants, and adaptations of those stories by authors, poets, musicians or media-makers. Together we’ll explore structural elements of the narratives, the similarities and differences in their characters, settings, plot points, perspectives, language and genres.

The third session opens with brainstorming about landscapes, architecture, major and minor characters, samples of problems/solutions within the considered stories plus special language that identifies a fairy tale. By the end of the class, students will be positioned to adapt those elements to create prequels, sequels, mashups, or original tales inspired by earlier sessions.

For emerging writers (K-2), the fourth session will be devoted to small-group collaborative oral story-making guided by the artist. Recorded audio from the session will be transcribed by the artist and shared in print with the class for the final session. For 3-5 grades, the fourth session includes timed writing and pair share, with all students drafting the bones of their own story’s beginning, middle and end. These story bones will be fleshed out after class and their drafts shared with the artist prior to the final session on revision.

In the fifth session, using the collaborative or individual student stories to prepare feedback prior to class, the artist shares the strengths of the early drafts. She also addresses how the students can revise to build a stronger narrative and a consistent story-world. In doing so, she models support for their creative work.

Both in-person and virtual (live) options are available for this program.


Artist Background

Milbre Burch is a GRAMMY-nominated, internationally known performer, published poet and writer, produced playwright and digital storyteller. Featured at the National Storytelling Festival multiple times, she holds a PhD in Theatre from the University of Missouri. She has been a touring and teaching artist since 1978, working for arts councils in the US, Europe and Asia. She has taught gifted K-12 students and K-12 students with learning and hearing disabilities; countless teachers earning CEU credits; college undergrads, international teaching assistants with limited English proficiency; inmates in correctional settings; faith communities; well elders and adults with disabilities. In virtual or in-person sessions, she employs storytelling to encourage literacy, deepen listening, enhance appreciation for diversity, equity and inclusion, and build community across disciplinary, cultural and personal boundaries.


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