For this week’s COW Writing Challenge, students will be writing a classic fairy tale.  Their prompt will be (what else?) “Once upon a time . . .”  The bonus words for this writing challenge are familiar fairy tale elements, including dragons, step-mothers, castles and giants.

Most children grow up hearing, watching, and reading fairy tales from a very early age.  Given their familiarity, fairy tales are a great platform for examining literary conventions.  Before setting students off on this week’s COW Writing Challenge, it’s worthwhile taking the time to reread some of these classic tales, then examine some of the common elements.

Some Common Elements of Fairy Tales

  1. Fairy tales do not need to include fairies.
  2. They are set in the distant past.
  3. They include supernatural, make-believe or fantasy elements like magic.
  4. There are clearly defined good characters and bad characters.
  5. Things usually happen in threes.
  6. The plot involves a problem or conflict that needs to be solved.
  7. The ending solves the conflict and is usually happy.
  8. The tale teaches some sort of lesson or demonstrates something important.

When students complete this writing challenge, have them keep these key elements in mind as they compose their own classic fairy tale.