A Classic Story Revisited in the Classroom

In one day you can present a classic read aloud story, an engaging math lesson, a creative writing concept and a modern twist on social studies all using a tried and true story, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves would make a wonderful kindergarten through 1st grade writing unit that would have the children take the characteristics of the dwarves and explore them in themselves. Day one of the dwarf characteristic writing lesson would explore descriptive words.  Why do we call Grumpy, grumpy? How can we analyze his character and see how the descriptions and dialogue fit his name. Extending the lesson into day two, the students could then choose a “seven dwarf” pseudonym for themselves, draw and describe themselves in the context of their descriptive name. Days three through five of the unit would consist of drafting, rewriting and publishing their own character creation resulting in Mr. Teacher and the 22 students, all of whom have created a personally meaningful piece of writing using the idea of dwarves names defining their character.

Many students struggle with word or story problems in math, and often this is less about their math skills and more about their reading fluency. Applying well know characters to a math lesson dealing with story problems gives students a base of understanding from which to build their skills. The following two problems are examples of fairly complex thinking within a common context. Imagine the students humming the Disney song from the movie as “off to work they go.”

If each of Snow White’s seven dwarves dug out three diamonds from the mine today, but Sleepy forgot his, how many diamonds did the dwarves bring home?

Doc brought three wheel barrows down into the diamond mine, if each wheel barrow can hold fifty diamonds and two are full and one is half full, how many diamonds are there all together?

A third and final way to integrate Snow White and the Seven Dwarves into a lesson plan has a more modern twist. In our ever-changing world the idea of family structure has changed from the traditional household to something more flexible. Social Studies lessons are beginning to address multiple family structures and Snow White fits well into the idea that households can work together well without being the same as everyone else. Discussing with students how Snow White and the Seven Dwarves share responsibilities in their home, and care for each other could show children that family can look different in different homes.

Applying a story as classic as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to the classroom is easy with a little creativity and a fair amount of subject integration.  The idea of using a common story is to derive deeper understanding of peripheral concepts within the framework of a well known narrative thread.