Fairy tales in primary school. A lesson plan

Term Paper, 2012

32 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. fairy tale
2.1.1 definition
2.2 Special features and characteristics of the fairy tale
2.2.1 One-dimensionality
2.2.2 One-dimensionality
2.2.3 Abstractness
2.2.4 Isolation and universality
2.2.5 Sublimation and worldliness
2.3 Fairytale species
2.3.1 Folk tales
2.3.2 Literary fairy tales

3. Origin and history of the fairy tale
3.1 Brief overview of the history of the fairy tale
3.2 Theories of origin
3.2.1. Single origin theory ( monogenesis )
3.2. Multiple origin theory ( polygenesis )
3.2.1 Indo-European theory
3.2.2 Anthropological theory

4. Original function of fairy tales

5. Fairy tales in contrast to neighbouring genres

6. Fairy tales and children
6.1 What opportunities do fairy tales offer children?
6.2 Actuality of fairy tales – Do children need fairy tales?
6.3 The cruel and evil in fairy tales

7. Fairy tales as a subject of instruction in primary school
7.1 Pedagogical.didactic significance of fairy tales in primary education
7.2 Possibilities for teaching

8. Case study
8.1 Brief description of the learning environment and class
8.2 Brief description of the teaching unit
8.3 Brief reflection of the hour

9. Summary

10. List of references


External links

1. Introduction

"Because only when and because the child lives in us, therefore we read, hear and tell, but long since outgrown the infancy, often and gladly fairy tales, whose heroes are not mature women and seasoned men, but children. When we think about children and fairy tales, we basically ask about ourselves. We are all human beings and children of the earth, perhaps we are, as some think, only orphans of a world that treats us like stepmothers, but perhaps we are also what the fairy tales tell: Children of heaven, children of the sun, children of the king."1

Heinrich Dickerhof

Since the discovery of fairy tales as children's literature by the Brothers Grimm, there seems to be a connection between children and fairy tales.

When dealing with the topic of "child and fairy tales", questions arise that I would also like to make the subject of my work:

Can fairy tales help children in their development? And if so, how can this happen and on what is this power of a single little story based that it can be able to be a development aid to the children?

Aren't fairy tales far too cruel and brutal for a child? Would it not be better, simply because of the brutality, to dispense with the fairy tale as the subject of primary education?

Pursuing these questions and then trying to find an answer to them should be the goal of my work. However, I will mainly refer to the folk tales, as these are the first and the most famous fairy tales that most children are confronted with. In general, in almost all cases it is the folk tales, and especially those from the Grimm collection of the "Children and Household Tales", which represent the first contact with literature for the children at all.

In the first part of my work, I would like to go into more detail about what is meant by the term "fairy tale" and its generic characteristics in order to create a basis for further considerations.

In the second part, I would like to investigate how, where and when the folk tales originated in the first place and what function they were originally intended to fulfil.

After a short part, in which the fairy tale has been distinguished from neighboring genres, I would like to deal with the relationship between fairy tales and children. Here I would like to discuss the value of the former for children, the positive possibilities that fairy tales have to offer children and the question of the topicality and necessity of fairy tales in this day and age.

Then, in the last practical part, I would like to deal with the fairy tale as a subject of instruction and check whether the folk tale finds its justification in today's primary school.

2. fairy tale

The term fairy tale is derived from the Middle High German (the) "maere", which originally means message or message and nowadays means in common parlance a "fabula incredibilis".

The importance of the fairy tale should not be underestimated, since it is the form of poetry with which man comes into contact at the earliest in his life, which may well have an influence on the development of the individual.2

2.1.1 definition

For the first time, the term "merechyn" appeared in a collection of stories in Leipzig in 1450 for a short story in verse form, in which miraculous things happened again and again.3

The new generic name "Märchen" is a diminutive formation of the Upper German word "maere", and was defined in its present meaning and understanding above all by the Brothers Grimm.4

A fairy tale is a narrative form that pretends to represent the real and that reports on outstanding people and events.5

However, the meaning of this word experienced a negative change due to this diminutive formation. The diminutive was applied to invented, untrue narratives, and thus terms emerged that have been preserved to this day's language use. Good examples of these terms and statements are "lies" or "Don't tell me fairy tales!"6

Today, the Middle High German term fairy tale is largely value-free and denotes a certain genre of narrative. Also in the written language, the Central German word fairy tale has prevailed.7

If you look up the concept of the fairy tale in the Bertelsmann Lexikon, you will find it described as an imaginative narrative that is equipped with magic motifs and that, in contrast to the legend, takes place in a timeless world.

Animals and objects that appear in it can speak, people are transformed into other figures and the hero is confronted with supernatural helpers, opponents and seemingly unsolvable tasks.8

Linde Knoch9 describes the fairy tale as a guide who knows the answer to many questions of life, as a creator of meaning who knows and discloses the difficulties of life and as an encourager who knows people with their weaknesses and strength and shows ways out of dangers and problems.10

Fairy tales are wonderful and enigmatic little stories whose material comes from oral and folk tradition and can be designed differently for each oral or written realization depending on the narrative talent and intention or stylistic claim. However, the narrative core always remains firm.

They play in fantastic places and in their unreal world, the laws of nature are overridden, conjured up and cursed. Not infrequently, wondrous figures such as giants, fairies and dwarves appear. The fairytale hero experiences many dangerous situations in which he has to cope with difficult tasks. In the end, everything turns to the good and the hero waves gold, the hand of his lover and a happy life as a reward for the passed tasks.11

2.2 Special features and characteristics of the fairy tale

I characterize the fairy tale by a clear structure with several episodes as well as by the character of the artificial-fictional. There is a coexistence of real and non-real, in which the instructive is assigned only a small meaning. The starting point of the fairy tale is often an unjust state; The aim is to remove this disturbance. This creates a dichotomy in the fairy tale. There is always a good and an evil principle. The good principle wins at the end of the fairy tale and is rewarded, the evil principle loses and is punished.

All this leads to the fact that a very simple world order is the basis: The good is opposed to the bad, the beautiful to the ugly, the brave to the fig and the stupid to the cunning. This contrast of characteristics gives rise to conflicts, which the hero then tries to solve and ultimately manages to do so by finding a happy solution. This corresponds to the wishful thinking of both the narrator and the listener. All solutions show a balancing justice and are thus for the listener a difference to his actual experiences with the social environment, which contributes significantly to the function of the fairy tale

After Max Lüthi12 are the essence and style traits of the fairy tale

- the surfaceness (typed figures without emotional depth),
- the isolation (including the heroes) and all-connectedness ("otherworldly" helpers of the heroes),
- the one-dimensionality (this-worldly and otherworldly things naturally interact with each other),
- the abstract style (precise action),
- the sublimation and worldliness.13

These stylistic features mentioned by Lüthi will now be discussed in more detail in the following.

2.2.1 One-dimensionality

In general, the fairy tale is a one-dimensional form of storytelling that makes it easier to understand the plot. Thus, the identification with the main characters is easier. Complicated, confusing content never occurs. A fairy tale briefly and pointedly notes a dilemma. In this way, the child deals with the problem in its essential form.

This feature describes the relationship of the worldly to the otherworldly. They meet again and again in fairy tales, but this does not surprise anyone: For the worldly fairy tale hero, it is nothing special to meet a witch, a sorcerer, a fairy or a talking animal. "This means that in fairy tales real and unreal worlds merge seamlessly into each other,..."14 So the fairy tale does not distinguish between reality and miracle.

Lüthi repeatedly refers to the difference to legend and legend, where such a encounter evokes numinous curiosity or numinose fear. In the fairy tale this is not so, although people are also distinguished in the fairy tale from the talking animals or magical beings, but they do not have the feeling that "...to encounter in the otherworldly of another dimension."

The one-dimensionality of the fairy tale with the flowing transition between this world and the hereafter corresponds to the surface nature of its actors.15

2.2.2 One-dimensionality

The characteristic of surface-likeness runs through the entire representation of persons, places, changes and actions, because "it is one of the characteristic peculiarities of the folk tale that is not described and described."16

Everything that happens in the fairy tale is thus described without any depth structure, just surface-like.

The characters in the fairy tale do not feel any pain, they remain either young or old, beautiful or ugly, and if they have slept a hundred years, they have not aged by a year.

"Details are only told when they are very important. The characters are not unique, but typical."17

At the center of the fairy tale is usually a protagonist, with whom the recipient should identify and around whom everything else is constructed.

All emerging characters in the fairy tale are individual, this can be seen above all in the naming, which is often based on external features ( Little Red Riding Hood ).18

It is not the social class from which the hero and the other characters come that is important for the fairy tale or its interpretation, but the constellation in which they stand together. The hero is usually a "loser type" (orphan, youngest child, stepchild, poor craftsman, enchanted prince...) and is alone and isolated from friends and relatives when he has tasks to cope with. However, he usually receives strange, often unexpected help or acts with figures that have different functions, such as the evil stepmother as a contrasting figure.

The behavior of this hero also follows a typical scheme, which is characterized by: the will to happiness, that is, to overcome evil and to achieve happiness and the proximity to nature.

Most often, only one main character appears, so that the listener's attention is not distracted from other people. In a few fairy tales that have two main characters,.B such as Hansel and Gretel or little brothers and sisters, both fates are so closely linked that the fate of one cannot be separated from that of the other. In this way, the listener only has to identify with one fate. Only the hero, the person with whom one identifies, the good principle, undergoes a development in the fairy tale, the "anti-hero" does not develop further, his values remain the same at the beginning and end of the fairy tale, he learns nothing in the course of the fairy tale.

"...the fairy tale shows us large figures, not people with a lively inner world."19

2.2.3 Abstractness

An essential feature for the folk tales is the abstract style.

With rigid contours are the figures, objects and environments.

Thus, in the fairy tale, one repeatedly comes across metallic, mineral and other rigidly shaped materials that give the characters or things a firm and unambiguous shape. Just as the characters and utensils are clearly defined, the line of action in the fairy tale is also provided with strong, abstract contours.

"The way in which the european folk tale is portrayed and told, tends towards the line. Things and characters are seen in lines, and the sequence of the plot, the sequence of episodes, sentences and words can also be described as linear."20

But other stylistic features that make up the abstract style of the fairy tale can also be found in almost every fairy tale:

Formulaic twists at the beginning ("Once upon a time...") and at the end ("...and if they have not died...") certain symbolic numbers such as e.B"three wishes", "three tasks" or "seven dwarfs", the overall structure of the fairy tale consists of a loose sequence of images that have no logical connection (no motifs, etc.) and can thus be viewed in isolation from each other. The combination of these individual images takes place either through repetition or contrast – the two characteristic stylistic devices of the fairy tale.

The frequently occurring three-time repetition of an activity or the recitation of a formula not only offers structure and rhythm, but also gives the fairy tale its magical, mysterious atmosphere, which captivates not only children.

"The abstract stylization gives the fairy tale brightness and definiteness. It is not poverty or ineerableness, but high form power. With wonderful consistency, it penetrates all the elements of the fairy tale, giving them firm outline and sublime lightness...Pure and clear, with joyful, easy mobility, the fairy tale fulfills the strictest laws."21

2.2.4 Isolation and universality

Max Lüthi describes isolation as the "dominant feature of the abstract fairytale style."22

The fairytale characters don't seem to belong to anyone, and they don't have any firm ties to other people. Through this isolation, they can form any connections that they can also loosen again. These abilities to isolate oneself and to be able to connect with everything at the same time are often used by the fairy tale characters. A good example of this are the helpers in the fairy tale.

The protagonists have to solve a difficult task and often need the support of helpers, often depicted by animals or otherworldly beings. They make a special purpose connection to them, and when the task is finally accomplished, the heroes continue on their way. The helper, to whom they owe the passed exam, for example, is left behind and never mentioned again. For example, Cinderella is supported in reading the lenses from the ashes, pigeons and many other birds. She asks them for help, and after the work is done, the birds disappear again without anyone questioning the whimsical events.23

The reason for this strange behavior is that the fairytale characters are not amazed by miracles, because they lack interest, feeling and curiosity for the other and his environment.

In summary, Lüthi notes: "Visible isolation, invisible all-connectedness, this can be described as a basic feature of the fairy tale form."24

By isolation, Lüthi understands the lack of relationships of the fairytale characters. They are not bound to anything, neither to home or friends, nor to things and possessions.

The absence of the amazement of curiosity and fear illustrates this lack of relationships. The fairytale character has no inner world, no environment, no relationship to pre- and posterity and no relationship to time.

The depiction of the plot is also isolating. The individual elements do not need to refer to each other.

An external isolation of the fairytale characters can be found again and again, for example, by leaving alone or exposing them.

2.2.5 Sublimation and worldliness

Bruno Bettelheim25 writes in his work "Children need fairy tales", that in fairy tales "...inner processes are expressed...", which only become understandable in the representation of the fairytale figures and events.26 With these "inner processes", Bettelheim means especially the subconscious soul processes of the children. However, these are not disclosed, but processed sublimated.

Other topics, such as ancient rites, customs and traditions or profane and magical motifs, are also hinted at in this way in fairy tales.

"The fairy tale sublimate these dark inner-seelous processes into light plot images."27

This sublimation gives the possibility to accommodate many important motifs of human existence in the fairy tale.

This gives the fairy tale a kind of worldliness. The folk tale contains many problems and advantages of human existence: Advertising for a partner, wedding, marital problems, infertility, sibling rivalries, murder, slander, death of parents or children, step-parents, eternal loyalty, sincere friendship, help, defense, sudden wealth and unexpected happiness until the end of life. The fairy tale is able to accommodate all this without naming the themes in concrete terms.

This is precisely why fairy tales are so interesting for children, because they resemble the child's way of thinking. In so doing, they not only open the door to interest in the fairy tale, but can also help it to make experiences concerning development.

2.3 Fairytale species

In literature, a distinction is made between folk and art fairy tales. In the following, these two terms will be defined in more detail

2.3.1 Folk tales

The folk tale raises a lot of theories about its origin, which illustrates how multi-membered its historical development is. Already at the beginning of the 19th century, the German Romantic André Jolles described the folk tale as a "narrative or a story in the way that the Brothers Grimm [...] have put together".28

Thus, grimm's fairy tales became the benchmark in the assessment of folk tales. The Brothers Grimm included in their collection "'what the people tell'" and thereby formed a "folksy epic".29 Fairy tales are thus by their very nature folk tales, "which in their oral tradition are mirrors of time".30


1 Dickerhoff, Heinrich: Fairytale children. Children's tales. Forschungsberichte aus der Welt der Märchen. Hrsg. im Auftrag der Europäischen Märchengesellschaft von Thomas Bücksteg und Heinrich Dickerhoff. München: Hugendubel (Diederichs) Verlag 1999, 8

2 http://www.sagen.at/infos_quellen_links/definitionen.htm

3 cf. Kluge, Friedrich: Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, Gruyter Verlag, Berlin, 2002

4 cf. Friend, Winfried: Das Märchen, Bange Verlag, Hollfeld, 2003, p.9

5 cf. Friend, Winfired: Schnellkurs Märchen, DuMont Literatur und Kunst Verlag Köln, 2005, p.9

6 cf. Bertignoll, Verena: Kinder leben Märchen, Studienverlag, Innsbruck, 2006, p.16

7 cf. Lüthi, Max: fairy tale. 9., durchgesehene und ergänzte Auflage bearbeitet von Heinz Rölleke. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler Verlag 1996,1.

8 Bertelsmann Bd14 P.6360

9 born 1940, librarian, pedagogically trained and trained storyteller, 1995 to 2001 Vice-President of the European Fairy Tale Society e. V. in Rheine/Westphalia, author of numerous books on the subject

10 Knoch, Linde. P. 32

11 spirits. Oliver p. 12

12 * 11 March 1909 in Bern; † 20 June 1991 in Zurich; was a Swiss literary scholar and outstanding fairy tale interpreter of the 20th century.

13 http://www.planet-schule.de/wissenspool/die-brueder-grimm/inhalt/hintergrund/maerchen-definition-abgrenzung-zur-sage-legende-fabel.html

14 Hetmann, Frederik: Märchenforschung, Märchenkunde, Märchendiskussion. Frankfurt a.M.: m Fischer Verlag 1982

15 Lüthi, Max: Das europäische Volksmärchen, a. a. O., 12.

16 Betz, Otto: The fairy tale and the adventure beauty. In: Das Märchen und die Künste. Im Auftrag der Europäischen Märchengesellschaft hrsg. von Ursula Heindrichs und Heiz-Albert Heindrichs. Wolfsegg: Röth Verlag 1996, 18.

17 Bettelheim, Bruno: Kinder brauchen Märchen. Unabridged edition. Original edition: New York, 1975. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. Kg, 25.

18 cf. Bertignoli, Verna: Kinder leben Märchen, Studienverlag Innsbuck,2006, p.16

19 Lüthi, Max. Das europäische Volksmärchen, a. a. O., 16.

20 Lüthi, Max: Das Volksmärchen als Dichtung. Aesthetics and Anthropology. Düsseldorf, Cologne: Eugen Diederichs Verlag 1975, 53.

21 Lüthi, Max: Das europäische Volksmärchen, a. a. O., 36

22 Lüthi, Max: Das europäische Volksmärchen, a. a. O., 37

23 cf. Lüthi, Max: Das europäische Volksmärchen, a. a. O., 40.

24 Lüthi, Max: Das europäische Volksmärchen, a. a. O., 49.

25 * 28 August 1903 in Vienna; † 13 March 1990; was an American psychoanalyst and child psychologist

26 Bettelheim, Bruno, a. a. O., 33.

27 Lüthi, Max: Das europäische Volksmärchen, a. a. O., 66.

28 Jolles, André: Simple shapes. Legend, legend, myth, riddle, saying, case, memorabile, fairy tale, joke. 2 unveränd. Aufl. Darmstadt 1958, P.219

29 Braak, Ivo: Poetics in keywords. 5.Aufl. Kiel 1974, P.170

30 Solms, Wilhelm: The natural miracle; Marburg 1986, p.1

Excerpt out of 32 pages


Fairy tales in primary school. A lesson plan
University of Koblenz-Landau  (Institut für Bildung im Kindes-und Jugendalter)
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ISBN (eBook)
fairy tales, primary school, lesson plan, Märchen
Quote paper
Katharina Horn (Author), 2012, Fairy tales in primary school. A lesson plan, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1157385


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