Written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the story The Fisherman and his Wife is a story about greed. It is one of the less popular tales but has plenty of scope for use in the classroom. It can either be used as a stand-alone book or part of a fairy tale or storytelling theme. How can this be used in a primary setting?
After sharing the story together as a whole class activity, the children can make their own fairy tale books as part of a group or on their own depending on their ability. A question and answer session is another possibility, where one child pretends to be one of the characters and the rest of the class ask him or her questions. Role play is also an opportunity for the children to develop speaking, listening and creative skills. Key words can be shared with the class and words to describe the characters can be shared. Comparing and contrasting this story with other fairy tales is another option that could be used in a literacy lesson.
In numeracy there is the opportunity for the children to look at numbers and patterns. The children could match fish into pairs, or have pictures of fish and find the odd one out. In the same way the children could design their own patterns of fish allowing them to develop ideas of shape. Counting the number of times the man talks to the fish, or the woman grumbles about her situation could also be ways of exploring numbers. Simple worksheets could be devised based on how many fish someone catches or throws back into the water. Fishing games could be introduced into the classroom where the children see how many fish they can catch and record their results as a class, small group or individually on whiteboards.
The issue of greed is a strong theme and this story is perfect for allowing the children to discuss why the fisherman ended up back where she started. They could talk about how she treated her husband and her characteristics such as being bossy, greedy and selfish. The children could link this to other books that deal with any other greedy characters.
Designing their own magical fish or drawing what the flounder looks like could be part of the art curriculum. Making, designing and creating houses for a display is also another aspect of the story. Sea pictures could be painted or made used tissue paper and collage materials. The children could paint or draw the different characters either in their work books or for display.
In music the children can use the percussion instruments to make their own sound effects such as the sound of the sea. They might want to decide on instruments to accompany the rhyme when the fisherman summons the fish and for the finale of the story when the couple find themselves exactly where they started.
In conclusion The Fisherman and his Wife is a story with a moral. The greediness of the woman in the story leads to her downfall but above all it is an interesting story with a repetitive theme that allows children to explore it an many areas of the curriculum.