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The Magic of “Once upon a time…”

Once upon a timeOnce upon a time… 

This magical phrase has begun children’s stories for centuries. When children hear these words they instantly prick their ears up. They know on a deep level that something amazing is about to happen.

Or do they?

Certainly thinking back to my school days if the teacher uttered those magic words you could feel the buzz in the classroom. If an adult said those words while you were talking to them, your expectations of what was to follow suddenly grew enormously. But do children still know the magic of traditional tales?

From my experience, many children when asked about Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin will quote Disney songs and story lines. These versions are often far from the traditional roots of the story. Unfortunately, they also include changes which alter the meaning and the lesson in the story. Yes, the lesson. These stories have been told to children for generations not just because they are enchanting and keep children busy. These amazing stories are designed to teach children important life lessons. Gentle, fun stories, but very important lessons.

Don’t believe me?

Goldilocks – don’t trespass or steal

Red Riding Hood – don’t talk to strangers…

If you want to go deeper still, many of them, if you believe many imminent psychologists, are also preparing children for puberty and are warnings about the opposite sex. (if you are interested in this idea take a look at Bruno Bettelheim’s “The Uses of Enchantment”, it is fascinating).

In Disney’s The Little Mermaid Ariel marries Prince Eric and everyone lives happily ever after. A lovely ending which I’m sure many parents approve of. In the original fairy tale he marries someone else. She watches from the side of the ship and is turned to sea foam. She made a deal with the sea witch that that would be her fate should she be unsuccessful. In Disney’s version everyone is happy at the end and it makes for a lovely carefree story. But if you look at the moral of the story it is totally inverted. She changes for a man and is rewarded for becoming someone else and not being true to herself. Is that really the message we want to be sending to our young girls?

You may have noticed that this is a subject I’m quite passionate about. I am. In fact 20 years ago when I wrote my dissertation I wrote it on the moral value of children’s stories. I love children’s books and am fascinated by how they have changed over time. But also how they gently educate our children.

New Resources for you

For a little while now I have been working on a collection of relaxation lessons based around traditional tales. You can now download my Little Red Riding Hood lesson, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Jack and the Beanstalk. If there are any other traditional tales you would find useful please do email me and let me know.

You can also download my Fairy Tales Relaxation Pack. It is more economical than buying them all separately. So, if you think they will all be useful, please do download that one instead. You can also save 5% on all my lesson plans simple by sharing them on social media, which is always appreciated.

All my lesson plans and relaxation resources are available in my shop to instantly download and use with your children. Whether you work as a teacher, childminder, or just want something calming and fun to do with your own children, you will love them.