The traditional tale of Cinderella is receiving new attention both online and off-line, thanks to innovative activities designed by teachers. In classrooms from kindergarten to college, Cinderella projects, book clubs, and WebQuests take advantage of the story's broad appeal and varied cultural history. And no evil stepsisters, midnight deadlines, or lost slippers can get in the way! Should you open your classroom door to Cinderella too? Included: Two classroom projects that show why Cinderella has such wide appeal for students and teachers!
"Children throughout the world can relate to Cinderella's feelings of being picked on, treated unfairly, and bullied," Susan Silverman, the fairy godmother of Kids-Learn.org, told Education World. "The [story's] ending gives them hope that they too will live happily ever after."
An instructional technology integration teacher in the Comsewogue School District in Port Jefferson Station, New York, Silverman has created many successful and popular online projects. One of her online endeavors links technology with language arts through the story of Cinderella. Pattie Knox, a technology support specialist for North Canton City Schools in North Canton, Ohio, joined Silverman in designing the Cinderella Around the World project.
"We wanted a topic that was broad enough to tie into curriculums at different grade levels and geographic locations," Silverman explained. "Cinderella can be used as a springboard in various disciplines. The multi-disciplinary opportunities are ideal for worldwide collaborative learning."
New this fall, Cinderella Around the World invites teachers to borrow from online resources and to share their own ideas around this universal theme. Participating classes take part in suggested online activities and share their work with Silverman and Knox, who publish the material on the project site in the form of Web pages. Sample Cinderella Activities, based on different versions of the stories, are also posted on the site. Those include a concentration game, crossword, jigsaw puzzle, and more.
"This model offers a wide range of engaging educational learning experiences," explained Silverman. "The students enjoy online interactive activities, view work done by their online peers, and communicate with project participants via e-mail. The classroom teachers provide the lessons showcased on the site."
"It's hard to believe that Cinderella Around the World is my tenth collaborative Internet project," Silverman stated. "I am still excited to see the wonderful activities teachers throughout the world are creating and participating in. In addition to making friends and refining my own skills as an educator, [I'm pleased] to know that my projects have shown the global educational community the power of collaboration."
In another example of Cinderella's popularity in the classroom, Christine Solomon's students at Hawthorn Middle School in Vernon Hills, Illinois, recently had the opportunity to join a book club. The assigned selection was Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine.
"I think the story of Cinderella has lasting appeal because it is the classic story of good versus evil," Solomon, a sixth-grade language arts teacher, told Education World. "In Ella Enchanted, Ella makes a great heroine because she isn't perfect, but she is likable! She also wins the heart of the prince because she acts like herself around him, which is a great lesson! Even the boys responded favorably to this up-to-date version of the traditional Cinderella tale."
The first order of business for Solomon's Cinderella book club was to obtain copies of the novel. She did not have multiple copies of the book, so students checked it out of local libraries and purchased it at bookstores. Participation was voluntary. With a roster of 49 students, Solomon decided to limit the club to the first 20 joiners. In only two days, the club was filled!
Solomon set a date about three weeks from the founding of the club for students to meet and discuss the novel. She gave students suggestions on how to demonstrate their favorite parts of the novel, and she encouraged them to come up with their own ideas as well. Some students drew scenes from the novel and wrote a paper describing why they loved a particular part of the book. Some filmed a scene from the book on video. Others wrote poems about Ella or created compositions comparing the modern story with the original tale.
When the club met for the discussion, the students ate pizza and talked about the book in general terms. "One of the most memorable parts of the book was when Ella and her stepsisters were riding in the carriage to school," reported Solomon. "The students found the imagery to be fantastic. They also loved the fact that Ella had to do anything she was ordered to do -- even if she didn't like it!"
Finally, the club members presented their projects!
"The students had a ball!" recalled Solomon. "Two boys worked together to film a scene from the book. We all laughed as we enjoyed their reenactment! Most of the students found it to be a very engaging book -- and better than they had expected. It was such a pleasure to hear the children comment, laugh, interact, and discuss literature without feeling that they were being graded or evaluated."
"My students truly loved reading this book and having choices about how to demonstrate their understanding of what they read," Solomon added. "I would hate to see this book reduced to vocabulary lessons and question-and-answer tests. This book is a fun read! I recommend it to anyone who just wants to enjoy reading and take an exciting journey!"
This site offers a dozen different versions of Cinderella in English.
Check out this listing of online and print variations of the Cinderella tale.