4 Amazing Benefits of Teaching Folktales - Jen Kimbrell

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Storytime was always my favorite in school. We often had a “rug” that we sat on and gathered around the teacher as she read a good book. Some of my favorite stories were that of fairy tales. I had an anthology that I would read every night before going to bed. While I didn't know it then, I now understand why the teacher read these mesmerizing and charming stories. There are so many benefits for students when using folktales in the classroom. Folktales taught us lessons that would last a lifetime.

What is a Folktale?

Folktales are important stories, told orally, passed down from generation to generation. Typically, folktales explore universal themes and include some element of magic. When you use folktales in your classroom, there are many benefits your students will take away.

Benefit 1: Learning Life Lessons Through Folktales

One of the best parts of reading folktales is finding lessons in the story. When we read, books can teach us life lessons that we can carry with us. When reading folktales in the classroom, you can discuss what the character did and what they learned from their actions. You can then challenge your students to connect this to their own lives, which reinforces making connections through stories.

I love teaching fables! I like to start out sharing the moral of the story first and then move to allow students to decide what they learned.

Benefit 2: Developing Strong Communication Skills

Because folktales were created to be oral traditions, one of the benefits of using folktales in your classroom is the retelling aspect. When students retell the stories, they communicate using academic language and practice reading skills through retelling and summarizing. In addition to retelling the stories, you can challenge your students to discuss various ideas like the theme and share their thoughts about characters in the text.

Benefit 3: Strengthening and Creating Reading Foundations with Folktales

Reading foundations are crucial to academic success for students in every subject. When I use my folktale lessons, they all have close reading components that help students strengthen their reading foundations. With the close readings, students read through the passage three times. In the first reading, they get to read it for enjoyment. 

The second time, they take notes on various aspects of the story as specified by you. Finally, in the third reading, the students compare it to other characters or stories they have read before. Sometimes, with the final reading, you can have students connect to their own lives and experiences.

Benefit 4: Carrying Ideas into Student Writing

One of the best benefits of folktales in your classroom is the writing component you can add to the reading. Once students have experienced a folktale, they can practice writing their version of the folktale studied. 

All of my folktale units have a writing component. However, my fairy tale unit includes step-by-step videos that teach students how to create a fractured fairy tale. You can pair the writing units with interactive digital notebooks to help students develop a story. When students take what they have read and extend the learning, they reach a new mastery level.

You can download The Ultimate Folktale Toolkit that shares how fairy tales, tall tales, fables, legends, and myths all fall under the folktale umbrella and try a lesson out for yourself. Sign-up below below to download.

Folktales have many benefits for students in the classroom. Not only can they strengthen students' reading skills, but they can also help them write, learn life lessons, and more! If you're not sure where to start, remember to check out this folktale bundle.