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October 2021 - Year 23 - Issue 5

ISSN 1755-9715

For Young Readers of Fairy Tales

Rostislava Grozdeva works in different companies and in different positions – cashier, bank employee, accountant. She is a student in the specialty "Preschool pedagogy and a foreign language" at Konstantin Preslavsky University of Shumen, College Dobrich. She has a daughter Bozhidara (Dara for short) who is the inspiration of her stories, songs and rhymes.



The food we eat makes our bodies and the stories

 we hear and read and experience make our minds

Andrew Wright (2019).



Fairy tales are a way for the author to express their  feelings, thoughts and fantasies. This tale describes people and animals that are important to me. As I wrote this story, I could imagine every word and every action of it. The picture just came to life in my mind. Life is a fairy tale and we have to tell it and live a fairy tale. 


Stories in teaching young learners

Stories are part of our lives. They often determine our worldview. "Stories tell us what is important in the opinion of the story maker and teller. Stories give us values, perceptions and ways of behaving. Stories help us make ‘story maps’ which guide us in our daily lives and help us cope with complexity." (Wright 2019).

Stories have their educative value. Ortels (2012) recommends children’s literature to be used as an instrument for foreign language teaching. Ilieva (2015) thinks that "It is a good idea to avail of the young learners’ ability to memorize children’s literature texts in foreign language education." We also support these two opinions.

According to Enever (2006) books for children contribute to the literacy development in native and foreign language acquisition and learning. Ilieva (2019) views picture books as a resource of "whole chunks to use in conversations", as a "context for listening and speaking skills development".

Children love stories and love incorporating them in their everyday play (Ilieva 2015). They love performing and rehearsals provide "repetition of whole phrases learned by heart that children can use in communication in other situations later on" (Ilieva and Terzieva 2018). Moreover drama on authentic stories or specially created dialogues develops the 21st century skills, "It can be adapted in different ways in order to fulfil a variety of objectives in the ELT (English language teaching) process" (Ilieva and Terzieva 2019).

Stories, drama and other activities based on them aid young learners‘ linguistic and holistic development. Wright (2019) enumerates benefits of stories in language learning and Ellis and Brewster (2014) reasons for using storybooks.

We consider stories created by teachers especially for the need of their group valuable for language education and sometimes also create stories. I would like to share such a story.


Dara by Rostislava Grozdeva

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Dara. She had beautiful blond hair and big blue eyes. Dara loved fairy tales so much. Every night her mother read a story to her before she fell asleep. And the girl dreamed of a fairytale world. Quite often, during the day, she played as if she was in a fairy tale. Her dog Hera was a faithful companion in her adventures – a little black puppy - very naughty and playful.

One day Dara and Hera went for a walk by the river. Dara noticed a small orange fish. She liked it so much that she decided to follow it. The fish swam calmly, skirting the rocks that blocked its path. It moved left and right. Suddenly the orange fish hid under a rock. Dara waited for a while but the fish didn’t show up.

Then the girl looked around and realized that she was lost. What to do now? How to find her way home? How to get home with Hera before it gets dark? Dara looked at a tree and saw a small yellow bird with green wings.

"If only you could talk to tell me how to get home!" said Dara.

"I can!" the bird replied.

"Oh, that's wonderful! What is your name?"


"Nice to meet you, Alex! My name is Dara. This is Hera."

"Do you want me to show you the way now?"

"Yes please! Hera and I have to get home before it gets dark, because then it will be even harder to find our way!"

"I beg you," Hera said. "I'm already starving."

Alex flew in front of Dara and the dog. Suddenly he perched on a tree and said:

"Do you see that tree with the orange leaves? Take three leaves, but do not tear from the tree. Take from those that have fallen on the ground."

Dara took three orange leaves from the ground.

"And what are they for?" She asked the bird.

"By carrying these three leaves, the forest fairy will know that you are my friend and will keep you safe on the way through the forest." We will not see her, but we will know that she is around us.

They walked through the forest - Dara, Hera, and Alex in front of them.

"It's not so scary in the woods!" said the girl.

"It's not," Alex said, "but you have to know the way."

"Hera, look how beautiful that meadow is!"

"I can play on it all day!" the dog replied happily.

"Until you're hungry," the bird laughed.

Suddenly Alex stopped and said:

"This is where the forest ends. This is my path. On this meadow in front of us you will find everything you need to go home. From here, take eight steps forward, then five steps to the right. Then you will see a green bush with pink flowers. Take three steps to the left of the bush and you will find a stone. Below it is a box. In this box you will find the most valuable - a book. Dara, put your head on the book and you will find your way home."

The girl and the dog left. They did exactly what the bird told them. They found the book. Dara placed the book on the stone. She hugged Hera, lay down on the book, and closed her eyes.

After a while the little girl heard her mother's voice:

"Dara, wake up! It is time for breakfast!"

Dara jumped out of bed! Hera did the same! But what had happened?

"Hera, I think I was dreaming my tale tonight. It was very nice! And you were there, of course! And now let's have breakfast, because a new day with new adventures awaits us!"

Here are some of the activities we realized with the story about Dara



Aims: to acquire new words and expressions (e.g. What is your name?, My name is, Nice to meet you, it’s time for)

Skills: listening and understanding, speaking, asking and answering questions

Cross-curricular links: environment, mathematics



Warm up

Children are introduced to Dara:

Teacher: Children, let’s meet Dara! What is your name? (to Dara)

Teacher (Dara): My name is Dara!

Teacher: Nice to meet you, Dara! My name is Rosi. Now you meet Dara!

The teacher points each child. Children have to use the following expressions: What is your name, Nice to meet you, My name is. Teacher helps when necessary.


Activity 1

Children are arranged in a circle. They practise one, two (3, 4, 5, 6….) step/s forward, to the left, to the right. In the centre of the circle there is a box with

  1. a book
  2. flashcards with vocabulary for revision
  3. plastic figures of animals inside.

Children have to find the box following the instructions.


Activity 2

Practising: It’s time for, breakfast, lunch, diner; It‘s morning, noon, evening.

Teacher shows pictures depicting morning, noon, evening and asks children What time of day is this? They respond Its morning, its noon, Its evening. When children say Its morning teacher says yes, and in the morning we say its time for breakfast. Children repeat its time for breakfast (same for lunch and dinner). We include discussion of possible food for breakfast / lunch / dinner and healthy food habits.


Activity 3

Let‘s describe Dara and her friends (Dara has blond hair and big blue eyes). Her friend Mary has long brown hair and brown eyes (we use pictures of girls and boys with various hair, eyes, clothes as well as picture dolls whose hair and clothes we change).


Activity 4

Let‘s go for a walk (we show pictures)          

  1. by the river
  2. in the park

      c) by the sea

      d) with Dara

      e) with Hera

      f) with Dara‘s friends


Activity 5

Tell me how to get home.

Go to that tree

Take three leaves from the ground

Go through the woods

Go through the meadow


Activity 6

Who lives where? Clap your hands when you hear the correct answer!

Where do fish live?              a) in the forest

                                             b) in the river

                                             c) on the field

Where do birds live?            a) in the trees

                                             b) in the water

                                             c) in a hole in the ground

Where does the fairy live?

  1. in the water
  2.  in the forest
  3. in the house


Close up

I hope you found it interesting and fun. We met Dara, Hera and Alex. You learned new words and new expressions. You can use them when you speak English. You also learned that books are very valuable. Through these we learn new knowledge. You understand, you have to protect nature and take good care of the animals. It is good to eat regularly and healthily. And don't forget – don't get too far from home, because you may not meet Alex to show you how to get home. Well done, children! You did well!

The aims of these activities are to practise phrases from the story and vocabulary connected to any topic (activity 1), to food, appearance, environment; to listen carefully and make sense of what they hear, to answer the questions in full sentences.

Through these activities we realize cross-curricular links to natural sciences, healthy food and daily routines and environment, we develop some of the 21st century skills (through these activities children learn to be creative, to work together – to collaborate, practise communication in a foreign language).



Tales "transport" us to a better world, but they also teach us values to use in life. Through fairy tales we can describe children the beauty of nature, we can stimulate their thinking and imagination. Fairy tales teach children virtues. They show them what is good and what is bad, wrong and right. We can combine fairy tales with games available for children. Tales and games with clear rules become a means of learning new words, of using whole expressions, of revising what has been learned so far, and of teaching children to answer in full sentences.



Ellis, G., Brewster, J., (2014). Tell it again! The storytelling handbook for primary English language teachers. London: British Council.

Enever, J., (2006). The use of picturebooks in the development of critical visual and written literacy in English as a foreign language. In J. Enever, G. Schmid-Shonbein (eds.) Picture books and young learners of English. Munich: Langenscheidt ELT GmbH, pp. 59-70.

Ilieva, Zh., (2015). Acquiring Expressions through Texts for Children: Lexical Approach with Young and Very Young Learners. Humanizing Language Teaching, 17:6, Dec 2015,,

Ilieva, Zh., (2019). Picture Books in Early Childhood Foreign Language Education. PROCEEDINGS OF THE WORLD CONFERENCE ON SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES. 12th December, 2019, Barcelona, Spain, Category: Social Sciences and Humanities. Diamond Scientific Publication, ISBN: 978-609-8239-98-0 pub.

Ilieva, Zh., Terzieva, D., (2018). Rehearsal time (Very Young Learners). In BETA E-Newsletter. Papers from the 27th BETA-IATEFL Annual International Conference Promoting 21st century ELT: language, life skills and digital literacies, 22nd-24th June 2018, Burgas, Bulgaria, 36:7, pp. 96-104. ISSN 1314-6874.

Ilieva, Zh., Terzieva, D., (2019). Forest School for Very Young Learners. In BETA E-Newsletter, 42:8. Papers from the 28th BETA-IATEFL Annual International Conference Changing the World One Class at a Time: Getting Through to Students, 3-5 May 2019, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, pp. 116-130. ISSN 1314-6874.

Ortels, E. Introducing Literature in English in Spanish Secondary Schools. In A. R. Torres, L. S. Villacanas de Castro, B. S. Pardo (eds.). I International Conference Teaching Literature in English for Young Learners. Valencia: Reproexpress, S.L., 2012, pp. 171- 177.

Wright, A. Stories: Their Importance In and Out of the Classroom. Humanizing Language Teaching, 21:1, Feb. 2019


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