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Practicing form: Fairy tale news stories

In this lesson students will use fairy tales to practice writing news stories without the added complexity of conducting interviews and outside research.


  • Students will review the qualities of a news story.
  • Students will practice writing news leads.
  • Students will write a 150-200 word news story.

Common Core State Standards



Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.


Develop the topic thoroughly by selecting the most significant and relevant facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.


Use appropriate and varied transitions and syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts.


Approximately 120 minutes


Students’ copies of fairy tales

Handout: Model fairy tale news story

ELL Differentiated Handout: Model fairy tale news story

Handout: Drafting your fairy tale news story

Slideshow: Fairy tale news story

Rubric: News writing rubric

Lesson step-by-step

Before class: Students bring a copy of a favorite fairy tale, preferably the original (and darker) version.

Day 1

  1. Activate background knowledge — 5 minutes

Review the qualities that make a story newsworthy, effective news leads and news story structure.

  1. Draw connections — 20 minutes

Distribute and discuss the model fairy tale news story. Then pick a couple of well-known fairy tales and ask students to brainstorm possible news stories that could be written about those stories. Share ideas.

  1. Practice

Students should use the remainder of class to work on stories, using drafting sheet for guidance. Students should finish their fairy tale news stories as homework.

Day 2

  1. Pair/share — 30 minutes

Working with a partner, students will share their stories. Students will evaluate their partner’s story according to news rubric, offering revision advice.

  1. Revision

Students revise their stories during class as the teacher moves around the room to answer questions and offer informal feedback. Students should submit their final stories the teacher.

Day 3

Share the strongest student models with class. Follow up with class discussion, or consider using a short written reflection on a notecard as an exit ticket.


Through self-selection of fairy tales, there will be some differentiation. Students who struggle will be more likely to select well-known fairy tales that are part of a long tradition of fractured retellings. The drafting worksheet should also help those who struggle. It is also possible to assign fairy tales to groups in order to simplify the work of developing possible angles, character names, quotes and so forth. Students would write a story individually in this model, although they may need more time.