DSCN9987I love the story of Cinderella.  One of my favorite units to teach is multicultural Cinderella, using different versions of the story to help students learn about other cultures. The students enjoy hearing the stories and identifying the differences, yet similar themes. They also are a great way to spark discussions about our own cultures, traditions, and celebrations.

Last year in second grade, I did a mini Cinderella unit that paralleled our social studies unit about cultures.  Students had the opportunity to share about a family tradition they celebrated.  To practice the reading comprehension skill Compare and Contrast, I real aloud 4 versions of Cinderella-the original, Wild West, Spanish, and Middle Eastern.  After each story, we discussed the main story elements and compared different versions.  To end the unit, students worked in partners to complete a venn diagram; they chose which 2 stories to compare and contrast.  Students loved the stories and noticing the differences, especially with the fairy godmother, where the party was held, and what Cinderella lost.

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This year, one of the stories in the first grade reader is Cinderella, and I immediately asked if I could teach a lesson.  I had to figure out how to modify the compare and contrast activity for my first graders’ level.  I decided to use one story, and read others throughout the week; we completed a T-chart I created together to compare and contrast.  The story I chose was Cindy Ellen because it had clear differences; this ended up being a good choice as well because it engaged all students, especially the boys who weren’t too excited about reading Cinderella.  The students loved the story; they were laughing along with the crazy fairy godmother.  Even though it was a long story, the students were good listeners because they were able to identify all the similarities and differences when we completed our chart together.  After they finished, they drew a picture of their favorite part or character.

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I think it’s very important to teach students about other cultures, and stories are a great way to do so.  Even though these stories had differences, they relayed the same message and theme.  And this unit gives students an opportunity to share about their own cultures and traditions, so we can learn from each other and build a stronger classroom community.

A multicultural unit about Cinderella could be extended and applied to all grade levels.  Older students could read harder texts and even research about other cultures.  In addition to reading the stories, students could write an invitation to the ball or a friendly letter to Cinderella or her fairy godmother.  Students could even write their own version of Cinderella-the possibilities are endless!  I hope to continue teaching this unit to all my students in the future!

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