Once Upon a Whoops! — Teaching Ideas

  • Published on October 15, 2021

Once Upon a Whoops! — Teaching fractured fairy tales

In this post I share some ideas for using Once Upon a Whoops! in the classroom.

Once Upon a Whoops! is a collection of over 40 fractured fairy tales and ridiculous rhymes written and illustrated by Australian authors and illustrators and published by Share Your Story in 2021.

The activities suggested in this post support teaching of the literature strand of the Australian Curriculum F-2. The list not comprehensive as there are too many stories to go into detail for each one. Instead, I provide some general ideas and reference just a few stories for each suggestion.

Of course, in addition to these, the stories can be used as a stimulus in art and technology units if children make props and other objects to support retellings, puppet plays and performances. Many of the stories also provide opportunities for mathematical discussions.

Once Upon a Whoops! is available from Amazon and other online bookstores.

Please note: this book is now also available in Dyslexia font.

Many of the stories have been recorded by the authors. The videos are available on YouTube by following this link.

My stories Silverlocks and the Three Bears and The Three Alpha Pigs are also available on the readilearn YouTube channel. Click on the titles to follow the links.

Once Upon a Whoops! — what’s in the book

Poetry and Rhymes

Innovations of the following poems and rhymes are included in the anthology. I have arranged them in order from most to least versions.

Humpty Dumpty

My Friend Humpty by Meaghan Brightwell

Humpty Dumpty Reworked by Shawn Duncan (year 4 student)

Detective Charming — Another Case Cracked by Fiona C Lloyd

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe by Geraldine Borella

The Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe by Carolyn Foreman

Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet Loved Spiders by Dannika Patterson

Sweet Little Miss Muffet by Mary Serene

Incy Wincy Spider

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Geraldine Borella

Hickory Dickory Dock

Slippery Slippery Slop by Jeanie Axton

The Grand Old Duke of York

The Grand Guinea Pig of Herston by June Perkins

Christmas

La Befana Lost in Down-Under by Jenny Catalano

Original Poems and Rhymes

To the best of my knowledge, the following poems and rhymes are original and not innovations on other poems or rhymes.

The Nurgle of the Elms by Deborah Huff-Horwood

Not All Ducklings Dress Ugly by M J Gibbs

The Selkie Girl by June Perkins

Stories

Innovations of the following stories are included in the anthology. As for the poems and rhymes, I have arranged them in order from most to least versions.

The Three Little Pigs

Bad Pigs and a Good Wolf by Regina Catalano (year 3 student)

The Three Big Bad Wolves by Jasmine Godby

Three Little Brothers by Kayt Duncan

The Three Little Italian Pigs by Carla Duke

Three Alpha Pigs by Norah Colvin

The Pee Thrittle Ligs and the Wig Wad Bolf by Stephen Whiteside

The Three Little Pigs Go on Holiday by Belinda Smith

The Three Greedy Pigs by Michelle Worthington

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Jack and the Seven Giants by Sandra Bennett

The Bad Apple by Trish Donald

Ash Black and the Eight Dwarfs by Belinda Meredith

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Silverlocks and the Three Bears by Norah Colvin

Moldilocks and the Three Bears by Dannielle Viera

Baby Bear by Kylie Kovark

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The True Story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jenny Woolsey

Gruff Billy’s Goatee by Sharna Carten

Clarrie by Polly Rose

Rapunzel

Brick Block Rapunzel by Karen Hendriks

To Build a Tower by Jennifer Horn

Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood’s Bus Stop Blunder by Mystie Dal Molin

Scarlett and the Big Bad Wolf by Emma Fainton

Cinderella

The School Play by Christine Crawford

Cindy’s Glass Slippers by Paula Stevenson

Rumpelstiltskin

Ruth and Rumpelstiltskin by Amira Beadsmore

The Barnacle Goose by Annaleise Byrd

Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Seven Giants by Sandra Bennett

The Princess and the Pea

The Pea Princess by Joanne Creed

Hansel and Gretel

Grimm and Gluten by Jennifer Horn

The Frog Prince

Froggy’s Fairytale by Joanna Hill

The Three Wishes

Three Wishes by Felicity Pulman

The Pied Piper

Ants on the Saccharides by Sandhya Parappukkaran

Stories and poems that reference two or more stories and rhymes

A Little Twist by John Duke

Jack and the Seven Giants by Sandra Bennett

Three Alpha Pigs by Norah Colvin

Detective Charming — Another Case Cracked by Fiona C. LLoyd

Original Tales

To the best of my knowledge, the following stories are original and not innovations on others.

A Hairy Fairytale by Colin Williams (A Hair Fairy — similar to a Tooth Fairy)

Ivy the Gumnut Fairy by David VJ Elliot

Oscar’s Magic Beanie by Kym Langfield

Other fractured fairy tales

As well as the tales included in Once Upon Whoops, you may also like to read other fractured versions, of which there are many on the market, for example:

Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl

The True Story of the Big Bad Wolf by Jon Scieszka

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar

The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka

Teaching with fractured fairy tales

Read and discuss the original tales

Children will get most enjoyment from the fractured fairy tales when they are familiar with the original tales and can compare the versions to understand the humour or the author’s purpose for reimagining the tale.

Children may also notice slight variations between publications of the original tale. Discussing these differences helps children understand that these stories had their origins in the oral tradition. Be aware that some versions of the original tales can be quite gruesome, so it is important to pre-read before sharing the stories with children. The stories in the anthology Once Upon a Whoops! are child friendly.

Retell and preform the original tales

To ensure children understand the story well enough to make comparisons, you could encourage them to retell the story or perform it as a play.

Make notes about the story, including:

  • The characters — Who is the story about?
  • The beginning — How does the story begin?
  • The setting — Where does the story take place?
  • Time —When does the story take place?
  • The events — What happens in the story?
  • The ending — How does the story end?
Read and compare the twisted tales

If you prepare a chart with those headings, you could fill in the information to compare different traditional tales or to compare a traditional tale with its innovations.

When children understand the structure of the traditional tales and the ways in which authors have innovated on them, they will have a better sense of how they too can change the stories to make them their own. Changes can be made to one or more elements: the characters, the setting, the events or the ending.

Responses to the stories

Discuss how the stories make the children feel and why. Discussing our emotional responses to characters and events in stories helps us to understand why we may respond in particular ways to real-life characters and events. It is also important for children to understand that not everyone will feel the same way about a story character or event as they do.

Favourites

Children will always have their favourite stories. They may have a favourite nursery rhyme or fairy story too. If the most innovated upon rhyme and story in this anthology was to be used as an indicator of favourites, then Humpty Dumpty and The Three Little Pigs would come out on top.

After reading a number of traditional tales, you could survey the children to find out which stories are most popular and use this information as a guide to which twisted tales you share with the children first.

Characters

While we have mentioned comparing characters already, it could be interesting to choose a character for more in-depth study. For example, you could choose a character from a traditional tale and write a character description together, noting everything that is known about the character, including physical attributes, clothing, likes and dislikes, behaviour.

You could then choose the same character from one of the twisted tales and write a character description, then compare the characters to see what the author kept the same and what was different.  Children may like to suggest reasons for the author making the change, for example, for humour, to bust stereotypes or to make the character more real.

Innovate to write own story

After you have read a variety of stories, then it is time for the children to write their own versions. First, they need to choose the traditional tale or rhyme they will use as the basis of their story. Then they need to think about which story element they will change: the characters, the setting, the events, the ending. Provide time for children to discuss their ideas before writing as well as during writing, particularly if they get stuck on how to progress their stories. When their tales are done, ensure children have opportunities for sharing them with others.

Naming characters

The names that Sandra Bennett has given the giants in her story Jack and the Seven Giants are based on those of the seven dwarfs in Snow White’s story and add another layer of humour. The same could be said of the names of the eight dwarfs in Belinda Meredith’s story Ash Black and the Eight Dwarfs.

To help children choose names for their own characters, it would be interesting to list the names of the seven giants and the eight dwarfs alongside the names of the original seven dwarfs and discuss how the names are both similar and different.

Story elements

Note: Although I have listed all the rhymes and stories included in the anthology Once Upon a Whoops! above, in the following activities, I mention only a few as a starting point.

Rhythm and Rhyme

With 20+ poems and rhymes included in the anthology, there are many opportunities for lessons about rhythm and rhyme. Many of the poems include other elements including humour, alternative viewpoints and settings that can also be discussed.

Humour

Many of the twisted rhymes and tales add an element of humour that may have been missing in the original. Where the humour exists, it is important to point it out.

Jack and the Seven Giants by Sandra Bennett combines the story of Jack and the Beanstalk with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. There is a lot of humour in the actions and events that children can visualise from Bennett’s descriptions. Children may like to illustrate some of the more humorous scenes.

Other stories with humour include:

  • Itsy Bitsy Spider by Geraldine Borella
  • The Pee Thrittle Ligs and the Wig Wad Bolf by Stephen Whiteside
  • The Three Greedy Pigs by Michelle Worthington
  • The School Play by Christine Crawford
Stereotypes

The original stories often feature stereotypes; for example, the wicked witch, the big bad wolf, the mean stepmother, the female in distress, the handsome prince and the happily ever after ending. Many of the fractured fairy tales try to bust these myths by portraying the characters in a different way. Some stories that do this include:

  • Little Miss Muffet Loved Spiders by Dannika Patterson
  • Brick Block Rapunzel by Karen Hendriks
  • Bad Pigs and a Good Wolf by year 3 student Regina Catalano (whoswaps the characters in the story and places them in a school setting that will be familiar to many children)
  • The Three Big Bad Wolves by Jasmine Godby
  • The Bad Apple by Trish Donald
  • Clarrie by Polly Rose
Setting — time

Where most of the original tales were set once upon a time, many of the twisted tales move the stories into a modern setting. As you read, children could be asked to identify the ways in which authors have provided a modern setting.

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe by Geraldine Borella mentions the internet, quarantine, Netflix, Zoom and climate change. She also compares the ways children were treated in the rhyme with what is acceptable now.

Other stories with modern references include:

  • Three Alpha Pigs by Norah Colvin (Generation Alpha are those born since 2010)
  • Three Little Brothers by Kayt Duncan
  • Silverlocks and the Three Bears by Norah Colvin
Magic

Magic is often present in fairy tales with Cinderella being a good example. However, there are other instances of magic too.

Some of the Once Upon a Whoops stories with elements of magic include:

  • Ruth and Rumpelstiltskin by Amira Beadsmore
  • The Barnacle Goose by Annaleise Byrd
  • The Pea Princess by Joanne Creed
  • Oscar’s Magic Beanie by Kym Langfield
  • Ants on Saccharides by Sandhya Parappukkaran

Discuss the magic with the children:

  • Who used the magic?
  • How was it used?
  • Why was it used?
  • Who did it benefit? How?
  • What could have happened in the story if there was no magic?

Encourage children to think of other stories that have elements of magic and to consider how they might include magic in their own stories.

Wishes

Wishes often come in threes, just as characters do. The granting of wishes often involves magic.

In Once Upon a Whoops, these stories involve wishes:

  • The Barnacle Goose by Annaleise Byrd
  • Ruth and Rumpelstiltskin by Amira Beadsmore
  • The Three Wishes by Felicity Pulman

Discuss wishes with children — things they wish for and whether the wishes are realistic or if magic would be required for them to be fulfilled.

Discuss the idiom ‘be careful what you wish for’ and what it means. Did any story characters make foolish wishes?

A little bit scary

Sometimes fairy tales can be a little bit scary, like being thrown into the oven in a house made of candy. Some of the fractured fairy tales and rhymes have a little scare to them too, but not quite as gruesome as Hansel and Gretel. The scare is often lightened with humour

These stories include:

  • Grimm and Gluten, an innovation on Hansel and Gretel by Jennifer Horn
  • The Nurgle of the Elms by Deborah Huff-Horwood
  • Red Riding Hood’s Bus Stop Blunder by Mistie Dal Molin
Exaggerations and foolish promises

In some of the stories, characters make boasts with promises that are difficult to keep. This is just as true of the fractured tales as it is of the originals.

For example, in the original story of Rumpelstiltskin as well as in the fractured tale Ruth and Rumpelstiltskin by Amira Beadsmore, the miller tells the king that his daughter can spin straw into gold. Similarly, in The Barnacle Goose by Annaleise Byrd, the farmer’s son assures the queen that their dog can dance. In each of these stories, magic is required for a happy resolution. However, the ending is different in the fractured tales from the original.

Different points of view

It is always beneficial to be able to view a situation from a different point of view. In fact, being able to see things from another’s point of view helps to develop empathy.

When reading the original tales, it is useful to ask children to think about the point of view that is being shared — whose side are we on? who is the ‘goodie’ and who is the ‘baddie’? What about if we looked at the situation from the point of view of the other character? How would that change the story?

That is just what Jenny Woolsey has done in her story The True Story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff  as told by Tee Roll or Troll for short.

Ash Black and the Eight Dwarfs by Belinda Meredith is another.

I’m sure that, as you read through the stories and poems, you will find many other ways of incorporating lessons that help you teach the literature strand of the English curriculum.

Once Upon a Whoops fractured fairy tales teaching ideas

All the suggestions from this blog post are included in this one free easy to download resource Once Upon a Whoops! – teaching ideas.

There are also a number of readilearn lessons based on nursery rhymes and fairy tales, including:

the accident - a story about Humpty Dumpty's fall

The Accident — Humpty Dumpty’s Fall

Teaching writing in lower primary classroom using Humpty Dumpty as stimulus

Humpty Dumpty — a story in five sittings

Little Miss Muffet themed lessons for reading and writing

Let’s read and write with Little Miss Muffet

Learning with Hey Diddle Diddle

Learning with Hey Diddle Diddle

Row Row Row Your Boat - the Nursery Rhyme - teaching ideas

Row, Row, Row Your Boat — the Nursery Rhyme

Goldilocks and her friends the three bears estory for the interactive whiteboard

Goldilocks and her Friends the Three Bears

printable word cards with a Goldilocks and the three bears theme

Goldilocks sight words

Goldilocks character cutouts for storytelling and play performance

Goldilocks and friends — Character cut-outs

readilearn teaching resources for the first three years of school

While you are here, remember to check out the complete readilearn collection of

over 480 teaching resources for the first three years of school
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
Let readilearn lighten your workload.

 

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Comments

    HI Norah, This is interesting. Children would need to understand and appreciate the original to understand the dynamics of the retelling in a different time period. They can, of course, appreciate the story in its own right without the comparison too.

    Hi Robbie. You are right about children needing to understand and appreciate the original tales. We agree on that. In fact, it was the first thing I suggested teachers and parents do before introducing them to the fractured tales. 🙂

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