Beauty and the Beast is a favorite story for children, especially little girls. But it can go far beyond the fairytale romance and magic that abounds it. It can be a tool whereby children can learn to appreciate the differences of others.
For students in the first classes of primary school, reading the story and talking together about it would suffice. After reading and talking about the story the teacher can have children retell the story in their own words. For homework they may be assigned to reread the story and write a similar story of their own using words from the Beauty and the Beast Book.
This helps to learn vocabulary, proper syntax and develop creativity. The individual teacher might also propose various ideas of what to write.
The dog with three legs and the little boy – the dog takes the place of the Beast, the boy takes the place of Beauty
The boy finds the dog and tries to befriend it. The dog growls and is aggressive towards the boy because othe children usually kick it or chase it. The boy brings it food and slowly earns the dog’s trust. In between children can makeup what else happens using the book as their format.
The above idea can be used from 3rd grade and up. If simplified and shortened it can be used for 2nd grade too.
First graders may listen the story or read it in class; have a short talk about the most important aspects and draw pictures of the main characters or their favorite scene in the book. Teachers may also want to subscribe to this link (fabulous classroom fun) for more ideas.
~Making children sensitive to others~
First and foremost, the beast’s own anger with his predicament is a reflection of personal rejection. This can be made into a classroom lesson for older children (4th – 6th grade). Children will be asked to analyze the beast’s behavior and through that will come to understand the behavior of people when they must face such troubled situations. That way the children will learn how people with various birth defects or other type of deformities might feel about themselves. As a result, children will learn to be more sensitive.
The activity may be divided into two parts. A) In the first part the children have a talk with the teacher about the main characters. Teacher’s questionnaire may look like this:
1) How would you describe Beast’s appearance?
2) How would you describe his behavior?
3) Do you consider him to be intelligent or ignorant? Why?
4) Why do you believe he behaves so aggressively?
5) In what point in the story did you start liking the beast?
6) Did you feel sorry for him? Why/Why not?
7) Why wasn’t Beauty afraid of him after a while?
8) What made her feel compassion for him?
9) What made her love him in the end?
B) In the second part the children may write a short essay description of the beast: appearance and behavior giving their opinion of the beast in the end.
~Learning Courage and Selflessness~
Another idea would be to A) analyze Beauty’s reaction to the Beast:
1) How does she earn everyone’s respect?
2) Is she clever, dynamic?
3) Would she be described as selfish or selfless? Find proof from the story to this reply.
4) Do you see a bit of yourself in her or is she too brave to be real? If so, elaborate.
5) Do people need to have Beauty’s courage today?
6) How can we become more courageous?
7) Tell the class about a difficult or scary situation you have been in. How did you react?
B) Write an essay description of Beauty and give your opinion at the end.
~Playing the Part~
What better way to learn to be courageous or understanding than acting out the part. By performing Beauty and the Beast in class, the entire class enjoys reenacting a timeless classic from which they simultaneously have fun and learn valuable lessons.
~Writing a review~
For 6th graders it might be an excellent way to learn to write a review. Children should learn that a review is someone’s opinion about something. In this case, it would be about the story ‘Beauty and the Beast’.
General guideline to a book review:
A book review should begin by presenting the book’s title and author. Then a brief summary of the story should follow. This entails writing about a) where the story takes place, b) saying who the main characters are and their role and c)what happens in the story (without much detail or revealing the end).
Then the student writes about the story’s strengths and weaknesses (if there are any). Finally, he should give his own feelings about the story (like or dislike) with examples from the story to support his comments.
All in all, Beauty and the Beast is a story the children will remember and retell to their friends and family. Moreover, it is a favorite which will provoke strong emotions which can be utilized in instilling sensitivity, awareness and creativity.