Roald Dahl gives classic fairy tales children know a humorous, sometimes gory twist in "Revolting Rhymes." His irreverent humor has been popular with elementary students since the 1960s. In "Revolting Rhymes" Dahl employs character and plot twists that make these classic stories fresh and appealing to students. With a fourth grade reading level, the book suits mid to upper elementary students. Some of the fairy tales in "Revolting Rhymes" include Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and Little Red Riding Hood.
Common Core Standards list English Language Arts Writing Standards for fourth grade that include writing narratives and opinion pieces. The standards for reading include identifying key story ideas, inferring character motivations, theme, point of view, genre identification and comparing story versions such as visual, audio and text. These standards can be found in many state standards as well and integrate well with activities for "Revolting Rhymes."
Readers Theater Retelling
Readers Theater is a typical literary genre utilized in elementary classrooms. The genre is written as a dramatic reading with several parts as if it were a play. The performance of a readers theater is much simpler however and requires just that readers take on the voices of the characters, reading the part without the use of settings and props. Fourth grade students have adequate writing skills for developing a short readers theater script. Assign groups of students the different fairy tale rhymes in Dahl's book to retell as a readers theater. After writing and practicing the retelling, groups of students perform the fairy tales for other students.
Fourth grade students should have knowledge of genre characteristics and the ability to identify differences in similar stories told in different genre. Dahl's rhymes though poems, have elements of the fairy tale that they mimic. Have students choose a Dahl rhyme from the book and acquire a copy of the classic version of the fairy tale for comparison. After reading both versions, students create a visual and text presentation to illustrate their knowledge of how the stories were the similar and different. Additionally, students write a short opinion piece to communicate the version of the story they most enjoy and why.
Point of View Poem
Students should practice identifying the point of view from which a text was written. Further, writing from a particular point of view, helps students develop the skill of identifying point of view because they must focus on one point of view to write from it. Have students study one of Dahl's rhymes. Afterwards, students write a retelling of the rhyme from a different point of view in either a poem or paragraph. For example, Red Riding Hood is written from a narrator's point of view. The student might choose to write a retelling from the wolf or grandmother's point of view. Further, after writing, the student can read their original retelling to the class and have the class attempt to identify the point of view from which the student wrote.