What Makes a Fairy Tale a Fairy Tale?

Learning About the Genre of Fairy Tales


The Elements of a Fairy Tale

What is it that makes a story a fairy tale?
As with folktales, fairy tales have an oral tradition,
and they usually take place "long ago."
There are several elements present in most of these stories,
however, that identify them as part of the genre of fairy tales:

  • Special beginning and/or ending words - Once upon a time...and they lived happily ever after.
  • Good character
  • Evil character
  • Royalty and/or a castle usually present
  • Magic happens
  • Problem and a Solution
  • Things often happen in "threes" or "sevens"


~ Links to Learning ~
Use these links to further explore the world of fairy tales.

Elements of a Fairy Tale Chart
A printable chart to use when looking for elements in stories

Fairy Tale Unit
Loads of great ideas!
The treasure chest idea for introducing this genre is fabulous!

Fairy Tales
Many mini units on various tales and lots more ideas!
Teachers will really like this site!

Fairy Tale Theme from abcteach

Sofa Stories and Fairy Tales
Lots of great stories here...special thanks to Lizzie for sharing :)

Myths, Folktales, and Fairy Tales
Scholastic has put together some wonderful resources.
Students can also publish their stories online.

Surfing the Net with Kids: Fairy Tales and Fables

Hans Christian Andersen Stories
Read all of Andersen's great fairy tales online!

Andersen Fairy Tales - animated flash

Grimms' Fairy Tales at National Geographic
This introduction is fantastic, but you may experience problems
accessing the next page. If you do, come back and click here.

Note to Teachers and Parents:This is an incredible site - children can choose the elements they want in the stories they choose to read or have read to them (audio available on some). BE WARNED, however, these are unabridged original versions, and do not necessarily have happy endings! Adult previewing recommended.

Back to our Castles and Fairy Tales page
To our classroom site Window to Our World
Some images by Graphic Garden