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Sleeping Beauty

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By Judith Mason — Educational Consultant

This is a simple retelling of a well-known fairy tale. The story language is typical of a traditional tale and the story also includes several examples of patterned, repetitive language structures.

Sleeping Beauty

Before reading

  • Which traditional stories or fairy tales do the children know? Recap any shared as a class.
  • Look at the title page. Ask the children what they already know about this story. Explain that traditional tales can be retold by different people so there are many different versions.
  • Read the opening sentence and talk about the traditional story language used (‘Once upon a time, in a far away land …’). List other typical phrases – eg, long ago and far away; happily ever after.
  • Predict the words that might be used to end this story. Read the last sentence of the leaflet comparing the words with their predictions.
  • Discuss typical traditional story characters – goodies and baddies, heroes and heroines. What makes someone into a hero – in stories and in real life? Explain that as they read, they should think about the types of characters in this story.

Previous learning

Children should be able to: use language to recreate roles; listen and respond to stories; understand story elements, including main character, sequence of events and openings; write labels and captions and simple sentences.

Key learning outcomes:

  • To retell stories, ordering events and using story language;
  • To use voices for characters;
  • To identify main events/characters;
  • To explore the effect of repeated words;
  • To adopt roles and consider alternative courses of action;
  • To give some reasons why things happen.

Reading the text

  • Read together down to ‘...their special gifts to the baby’. What do the children notice about the sentences describing the gifts the fairies give to the baby? Ask the children to look for other examples of patterned language as they read on.
  • As you listen to the children read individually, check understanding where the sentence construction is more typical of traditional stories than contemporary language – eg, ‘for the king had banned them from the kingdom’ rather than ‘because…’ (page 2).


  • Talk about the main events. Use the questions on the activity sheet as discussion prompts. You can also use this sheet to assess comprehension of the story.
  • Did the children notice repeated or patterned language? Find the examples (eg, on pages 3 and 4 of the leaflet). In pairs, or as a group, compose additional sentences that would follow the same structure – eg, ‘in the garden, all the children fell asleep on the grass’.
  • Talk about the characters. Who was good or bad? Who was a hero or heroine? Give reasons, referring to the text. How does the hero in this story compare to others?
  • Find examples of speech. What does it show us about the characters? Eg, “Come with me,” she said, “I have something special to show you.” tells us the nasty fairy is sneaky and knows how to tempt the princess.
  • Read the dialogue using different voices. Which voice best shows the type of character?

Follow-up to guided reading

  • Draw and label pictures of the characters in the story. Extend the activity by writing a sentence/sentences about the type of character this is.
  • Model writing a sentence using because. Ask the children to write their own ‘because’ sentences about the characters – eg: The princess went to the tower with the nasty fairy because she thought she had something special to show her.
  • Use the activity sheet to plot the story on a story mountain to show the beginning, build up and ending.
  • Using props, retell or act out the story, using traditional story language. Take photographs of the scenes created and use these to sequence the story, perhaps adding them to the story mountain.
  • Model how to ask questions, hot-seating a character from the story. Write out the questions in a guided writing session.
  • Choose one aspect of the story to change – eg, the setting; have a baby prince instead of a princess; a different ‘bad’ wish. What else in the story would have to change as a result? Try telling these new versions of the story to each other.



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