This afternoon we worked on reading comprehension using the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Our family reads together frequently, but the children often stubbornly protest recalling a story when I try to draw a retelling from them. They feel it's horribly boring to be forced to retell a story, and would much rather run off and play.
But with props, retelling the story IS play! They had a lot of fun with this program, and requested more like it for tomorrow.
First, we read The Three Bears by Byron Barton.
I don't love Barton's illustration style and tend to avoid his books for this reason, but the very simple images worked well with this lesson, which required that the children follow the plot points of the story rather than get become absorbed in detailed artwork. Barton's text is equally simple and straight-forward.
The back of this cupboard also just happens to be tall enough that I can hide additional objects out of sight until needed. Opening up the little doors is a very exciting moment for the children, because they know there's always something wonderful, inside.
If you don't have a magic cupboard like this in your home or classroom, you could substitute a small treasure-chest style box from an antiques shop, a picnic basket or other lidded basket. If you're crafty, you might cover a cardboard box with paper scraps and attach via hot glue a mashup of little jewels or treasures like buttons, polished stones, keys, pearls, thimbals, shells, jewelry, and silver spoons. One trip to Goodwill should supply a bag's worth of treasures to cover your box, at minimal expense.
This project would be well worth your time. Again, I find it very helpful to have a place to store supplies and withdraw treasures during storytelling. It really does add to the magic of the show and makes anything you hide inside, extra special!
Our Goldilocks props consisted of miniatures and doll house furniture gathered from play areas around our home. Your Goldilocks could be any yellow-haired doll, and the three bears might be stuffed animals, if you'd like.
Our props included;
A small rug to define the playspace and set the indoor scene.
Three porcelain bowls - small, medium, and large.
Three chairs - hard, soft, and "just right".
Three beds - hard, soft, and "just right", or big, medium, and small.
We used three bears from the movie Brave, because their size was perfect.
Additional to Goldilocks, I also supplied two extra dolls to symbolize Goldilocks' mother and father.
The children caught on right away, and helped me arrange the kitchen, living room, and bedroom of the bear's house, piece by piece, as I retrieved each from the small cupboard. Then I took the Goldilocks figure and walked her towards the house, "knocked" on the door, and let myself in. At this point, I set the figure down on the rug and asked the first child to pick it up and show us what Goldilocks did first after entering the house.
The child brought Goldilocks over to the kitchen and talked her through three bowls of porridge, repeating lines from the story. I explained that porridge was a kind of hot cereal, but in the children's re-telling, they decided to turn it into "hot soup".
When the first child was finished with retelling his part of the story, I asked him to return Goldilocks to the rug in the center of the house and gave the next child to a turn to pick it up. She carried Goldilocks straight over to the chairs, and recreated Goldilocks' experience of trying out each chair. At the part where the baby bear's chair gets broken, she tipped the smallest chair over to demonstrate that it was "broken".
Last, we worked through the beds, and the first child tucked Goldlocks in under the covers to fall asleep.
Then each child and I took one bear and "walked them home" to discover one by one what Goldilocks had done. The kids did a good job acting out how sad Baby Bear would be to discover that his soup was gone, his favorite chair was broken, and his bed was being used!
The story traditionally ends with Goldlocks jumping out of bed and running out of the house, never to be seen again, but we went a little bit further.
Personally, we wanted to focus on (1) identifying "shades of gray" (seemingly bad choices that were perhaps made for an understandable reason) and (2) correcting bad choices, even if they were made for a good reason.
We paused here to discuss what Goldilocks had done, and why each of those things would have been hurtful to the three bears.
Additionally, why might Goldilocks have made these bad decisions? Was she hungry from walking in the woods? Sleepy because she'd been lost and far from home?
After Goldilocks "ran home", I brought out the Mother and Father dolls, so Goldilocks could tell her parents what she had done at the bear family's home. Goldilocks then asked her parents to go back through the woods with her, so she could return to the bear family's house and tell them that she was sorry.
The children were VERY active during this part of the story, and were quite excited to add onto the story with events that weren't in the book. They quickly took over all of the characters, and speaking as the bears, invited Goldilocks and her parents inside. Goldilocks appoligized and promised never to go where she hadn't been invited, and the bear family forgave her. The children also added that Goldilocks had brought along a huge bowl of hot soup for Baby Bear, as well as some sticky glue to fix his broken chair. She then picked up the messy blankets and made his bed!
Supplying a human Mother, Father, and child that directly mirrored the bear family's Mother, Father, and baby helped the children have empathy for both the bear family's situation, and the human family's situation, which touched upon one concept that we've been trying to impress in our home - empathy and understanding for other people's choices (some of which may outwardly seem "bad" before you know the reason why those decisions were made).
There were no bad guys at the end of this story. The bears were not mean and scary, and Goldilocks did make a mistake but she found a way to fix it and repair her friendship with the bear family. Better choices were made, feelings were reflected upon, and diversity was overcome. And without realizing it, the children did a splendid job of recalling and reciting the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, as well as adding some creative story-telling touches of their own.