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It’s a Fairy Tale (Well, Almost) Therapy!

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I’ve always loved fairy tales! Much like Audrey Hepburn “If I’m honest I have to tell you I still read fairy-tales and I like them best of all.” Not to compare myself with Einstein (sadly in any way, sigh) but “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.”

It was the very first genre I’ve read when I’ve learned how to read. In fact, I love fairy tales so much that I actually took a course on fairy tales in college (yes they teach that!) and even wrote some of my own (though they were primarily satirical in nature).

So it was a given that I would use fairy tales as a vehicle to teach speech and language goals to the children on my caseload (and I am not talking only preschoolers either).

Fairy tales are educational! They indirectly teach children morals and values in ingenious and entertaining ways. Fairy tales are inspiring! They make you believe in better things! For at-risk children (e.g., low SES, abused/neglected, etc) who’ve never even heard of this genre prior to working with me, they open imaginations to endless possibilities!

Fairy tales are predictable! They follow a similar pattern, easy for children to remember and replicate:

  • Once Upon a Time
  • Royalty (The king and queen…)
  • Towers, Castles, Forests on my…(There in the forest stood a tower…)
  • Mistreated Character (Goldilocks, Snow White, Rapunzel, etc.)
  • Villans and Heroes
  • Magical Characters (Witches, Fairies, etc.)
  • Evil Spells
  • Acts of Bravery and Heroism
  • Happy Endings

There are so many goals that can be targeted with fairy tales, including:

  • Story Grammar Elements
  • Compound and Complex Sentences
  • Story Sequencing
  • Reading and Listening Comprehension Questions
  • Interpretation of Text Embedded Context Clues 
  • Vocabulary Knowledge and Use
  • Semantic Flexibility Skills (e.g., Synonyms, Antonyms, Multiple Meaning Words) 
  • Social Cognition Elements (Perspective Taking, Pragmatics, Socioemotional Vocabulary, etc.)
  • Verbal Reasoning (Inferencing, Predicting, Negative Questions, etc.)

It’s great for pediatric populations of various ages. While younger kids (preschoolers, kindergartners, etc.) benefit from an introduction to regular fairy tales, my early and late elementary aged students truly enjoy reading fractured fairy tales by authors such as  Trisha Speed ShaskanNancy Loewen, Eric BraunJessica Gunderson, Jon Scieszka, and many others. 

Here, higher order language abilities such as comparing and contrasting, analyzing, interpreting ambiguous language and idiomatic expressions, can be targeted in addition to the above goals. And there are plenty of FREE materials which can be found on TPT to beef up these therapy sessions, materials-wise, the sky is the limit!

Using fractured fairy tales in therapy makes it fun and entertaining for all. Kids can’t wait to find out the fun and wacky twists that transform the previous villain of the piece into a surprisingly likable and sometimes misunderstood character supposedly mislabeled and vilified by the annals of history.

So what are you waiting for, start implementing fairy tales in your therapy sessions today, and let the fun commence!

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