One Story, Many Tales

How is the traditional story, Cinderella, told in other countries? What are the similarities and differences among the different versions?


Key Staff

ELL teacher with opportunities for collaboration with language arts, social studies and performing arts teachers

Key Skills

Developing Arts Literacies: Understanding Genres, Applying Vocabulary, Comparing Styles
Global Connections: Connecting to History and Culture, Connecting with Other Arts
Life and Career Skills: Social and Cross-Cultural Skills


Through the study of various literary and fine arts versions of Cinderella, ESL students will practice their reading, writing, oral, and technology skills. They will also recognize that many cultures share the same stories and folk tales but infuse them with unique details which are specific to the culture. Nevertheless, folk tales communicate many of the same lessons and themes regardless of their culture-specific details.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Compare/contrast versions of the same story
  • Describe the characteristics of a folktale
  • Define a folktale
  • Respond in writing and drawing to music
  • Discuss folktales from their own cultures
  • Prepare and deliver oral presentations
  • Label maps

Teaching Approach

Arts Integration

Teaching Methods

  • Cooperative Learning
  • Information Organization
  • Research
  • Discussion

Assessment Type

Determined by Teacher


What You'll Need

Required Technology
  • 1 Computer per Learner
  • 1 Computer per Small Group
  • Television
  • Speakers
  • VCR
  • DVD Player
  • Mobile Media Player
Lesson Setup

Teacher Background

Teachers should be familiar with a variety of versions of the traditional folktale Cinderella, particularly the versions from their students’ home countries.

Prior Student Knowledge

  • Familiarity with folktales from their country of origin
  • eThemes has a host of versions of Cinderella

Physical Space

  • Classroom
  • Computer Lab


  • Large Group Instruction
  • Small Group Instruction


  • Test internet connection
  • Make necessary photocopies

Accessibility Notes

This lesson is designed for ELL students.



1. Distribute copies of Cinderella Penguin or the Little Glass Flipper and then read aloud the story. Discuss the story with the class. Ask questions such as: Have you ever heard this story? Is there a similar story in your culture? Tell us about it. List these on the board with name and country.

2. Ask students to consider: Why is the Cinderella story so widespread and well-known in so many different versions?

3. Distribute the Cinderella Vocabulary List located within the Resource Carousel. Discuss the word folktale and give students the Folktale Reference Sheet. Tell the students that a folktale is a story or legend handed down from generation to generation, usually through oral retelling. The following elements are often found in folktales:

  • The story starts with "Once upon a time..." or something similar.
  • Magic events, characters, and objects are part of the story.
  • One character is someone of royalty.
  • One character is wicked.
  • One character is good.
  • Goodness is rewarded in the story.
  • Certain numbers (such as three and seven) are part of the story.
  • The story ends with "...they lived happily ever after" or something similar.

4. Have students discuss folktales from their native countries. List these stories on the board. Discuss whether these tales include some of the folktale elements from the list above.

5. Distribute the worksheets What is a Folktale? and Folktale Research located within the Resource Carousel. Explain both sheets to students. Have students complete the worksheet for the story read at the beginning of the class, Cinderella Penguin. Have additional copies of these worksheets for use in future steps.

6. Read aloud the Perrault English version of Cinderella. Discuss this version and how it differs from Cinderella Penguin and the Little Glass Flipper. Distribute another copy of the What is a Folktale? Worksheet and the Folktale Research Worksheet. Have students complete these sheets, this time analyzing the Perrault version of the story.

7. Discuss various beginnings and endings. Have the students write their own version of the story's ending. Provide these prompts and let the student's select which they would like to complete: "Five years later" or "The prince could not find anyone whose foot fit the slipper." Have students begin work on the story and finish for homework.

Build Knowledge

1. Have students share their story endings with the class. Review and edit students’ work and then provide them with the opportunity to revise their initial draft and type their final version in the computer lab.

2. From your personal or class collection, or the library, assign teams to read various versions of Cinderella. (See Sources section.) Have the teams read aloud their versions to the other team members, taking turns to read.

3. When they have finished, distribute another copy of the worksheets What is a Folktale? and Folktale Research located within the Resource Carousel to each team. Explain to the students that they are to use these sheets to analyze yet another version of the story.

4. Distribute the Self-Assessment Worksheet, located within the Resource Carousel, to students and ask them to complete it. All sheets students have thus far turned in should be handed back so that they can review and attach to the self-assessment sheet.

5. Distribute the Database Worksheet located within the Resource Carousel. Explain to the class what a database is and tell them that their class is going to create a Cinderella database. Have each team complete the Database Worksheet, detailing the various versions of the story. Collect all completed work; this data will be compiled later in the computer lab.

6. For the final activity with the Cinderella versions, tell students they are going to prepare an oral presentation of their book. Provide students with the following guidelines:

  • Students should introduce themselves, use their worksheets for discussion points, and speak clearly and loudly enough for the class to hear them.
  • If referring to things that the class might not be familiar with, students should give a reference and write it on the board or chart paper so that students refer to it later for more information.
  • Students should be made aware of the basics of public speaking: eye contact, voice modulation, questioning techniques, etc.

7. Hand out the worksheets Reading Rainbow Book Talk and Reading Rainbow Book Talk Assessment located within the Resource Carousel. Explain the worksheet and the checklist. Have the teams prepare their presentations. Collect all student work.

8. Return the Reading Rainbow Book Talk Worksheet to the students. Have teams practice and then give their presentations. (If desired, videotape the student presentations.)

9. For reinforcement, read aloud Cinder Edna, another version of the story. Have students write a paragraph on which version they liked best for homework. They are to select from the Perrault version, Cinderella Penguin, or Cinder Edna. Note: Other versions may be added as well at the teacher's discretion.


1. Begin to take students through an exploration of Cinderella from literature to music, using opera or ballet selections as examples. You may choose either of these selections to present to the class. (See the Sources section.) Play a CD of Prokofiev's ballet music. Distribute the Music Response Worksheet located within the Resource Carousel.

2. Have the students complete a music response. Tell the students to draw a picture of what they hear or imagine while they listen to the prologue of the ballet. Display students’ work on the board and have each student explain their drawing and its relationship to the story and the music.

3. Distribute the Character Description Worksheet located within the Resource Carousel. Explain to the students that they will complete this sheet after they view the video. Review the questions before playing the video to give students a better idea of what to watch for in the video.

4. View a video of the Cinderella ballet. Have students complete their worksheets. Invite them to share their finished work with the class. Students should discuss the answers and different views that will be presented.

5. Before taking students to the computer lab, explain that they will compile one project and complete two others after they complete the following music project.

6. Distribute the Student Research Guidelines located within the Resource Carousel. Have students work in groups to research various composers, including Massenet, Mozart, Rossini, and Prokofiev, who have dealt with the Cinderella folktale. Students can use Internet resources as well as online resources such as the Grolier's Encyclopedia.

7. Upon completing their research, have students complete a photo biography of the composer. For the photo biography, students should place a picture of the composer in the middle of a poster. Students should then add five or six pictures around the center picture and include written descriptions of important events in the composer's life.


1. Make and distribute copies of the Cinderella Database worksheets students have completed.

2. Distribute the World Map Worksheet located within the Resource Carousel and world maps. Explain to the class that they are to use the database to complete the worksheet and map. Hand out atlases and colored pencils. Place the maps on the board and bring out the compiled list from day one of folktales and countries. See how many countries can be added to that list.

3. Discuss folktales/fairytales with the students in general.

  • What have they learned?
  • What was their favorite part?
  • Do they look at them differently now?
  • Can they give examples of modern movies, stories, etc that might be modern folk or fairytales that students will reflect upon one hundred years from now.
  • Have any of these been turned into musicals, operas, etc. (Examples i.e., The Lion King, the Star Wars film series, The Grinch, Shrek, and the Harry Potter film series.)


The assessment is conducted throughout the lesson utilizing the various assessment worksheets and handouts.

Key Vocabulary

  • Folktale
  • Database
  • Adaptations
  • Oral tradition
  • Cinderella

Extending the Learning

You may wish to use the succeeding ARTSEDGE lesson, All the News That's Fit to Print.


Throughout the nation, standards of learning are being revised, published and adopted. During this time of transition, ARTSEDGE will continually add connections to the Common Core, Next Generation Science standards and other standards to our existing lessons, in addition to the previous versions of the National Standards across the subject areas.

The Arts Standards used in ARTSEDGE Lessons are the 1994 voluntary national arts standards. The Arts learning standards were revised in 2014; please visit the National Core Arts Standards (http://nationalartsstandards.org) for more. The Kennedy Center is working on developing new lessons to connect to these standards, while maintaining the existing lesson library aligned to the Common Core, other state standards, and the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education.

ArtsEdge Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.

Common Core/State Standards

Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.

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Daniella Garran
Original Writer

Phyllis Gron
Original Writer

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