What Are Traditional Tales?

Mother and daughter reading traditional tales

Once upon a time... We had to think back to our own school days to help the kids with their homework! Well, not anymore.

Traditional tales are currently part of the UK Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 school curriculum, so you may find yourself helping out with a spot of homework on this topic. We have done the research for you, although there is a good chance you already know some traditional tales pretty well.

As lockdown eases, you might still find yourself homeschooling for a while longer, so hopefully, this should help. If you have kids from other year groups at home too, they may like to join in on this topic, especially as you can watch the movie versions of some of these as 'homework'!

Traditional tales are magic

What Is A Traditional Tale?

A traditional tale is a story that has been passed down from generation to generation in the style of a folk tale, or 'fairytale', as we commonly call them. The stories vary from culture to culture, but the thing all these stories have in common is that everyone seems to know them! We may not even really know how we came to remember the tale so well and yet we do! In the UK especially, it would be hard to find someone who didn't know the story of the Three Little Pigs, or what happened to Jack when he ventured up the beanstalk.

Although a lot can be learned from a traditional tale, they are different to fables which are similar, but fables are told to pass on and teach a moral lesson, whereas traditional tales are told for entertainment, often as bedtime stories. This type of story is usually written in a simplified, easy to understand sort of way, which makes them perfect as a base for learning creative writing skills such as how to structure a sentence, and how to identify the beginning, middle and end of the story as narrative components.

Popular Fairytales

These well known fairy stories and traditional tales have been told so often, and in many different ways, most are Disney films! See if you recognise all the stories on our list:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs


Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Jack and the Beanstalk

Little Red Riding Hood

Hansel and Gretel

The Elves and the Shoemaker

The Emperor's New Clothes

Three Billy Goats Gruff


The Ugly Duckling

The Princess and the Pea

Puss in Boots

The Little Mermaid

The Frog Prince


The Golden Goose

Sleeping Beauty


Mother and child reading bedtime stories before bed

Ways To Teach Traditional Tales At Home

  • Read lots of traditional tales together!
  • You could watch the film adaptations too, and then look back over the traditional stories to compare, and see if the character on screen is how your child pictured them from the book.
  • Discuss the story and the characters. Can your child identify the heroes and villains? What did they think of the characters? Who was their favourite?
  • Asking lots of questions will help to develop your child's reading comprehension, as they will start to relate to the characters and be able to see who has which role within the story and why.
  • Open ended questions are best, so that your child has to think back to certain parts of the story, for example 'What was the second little pigs house made of?' or 'What made Sleeping Beauty fall asleep?'.
  • Other things to discuss to help children think more deeply about the characters could be asking how they think certain characters would have felt, and what they think they could have done differently. For example 'do you think Goldilocks felt bad about stealing the little bears porridge?'.
  • You can help your child with story structure and writing their own stories, by folding a piece of paper into three. Each section is the beginning, middle and end, and they can plan out their story using the boxes to show what will happen and at what stage.
  • For kids who aren't so interested in writing, a great way to encourage learning about structure and vocabulary  is by letting them create a cartoon strip instead, encourage them to draw the story from memory and write new dialogue for the characters.


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