Lesson plan

Analyzing Archetypes in Fairy Tales

Engage students in analysis by examining archetypes in fairy tales. Teach students to identify heroes and villains in fairy tales, examine patterns, and create their own fairy tales to express their knowledge of archetypes.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to analyze archetypes in fairy tales.

(5 minutes)
  • Have your students share fairy tales that they have read in the past.
  • Ask your class to compare and contrast these stories. For example, What's similar about these fairy tales? What's different?
  • Have your students reflect on common themes amongst fairy tales.
(20 minutes)
  • Begin by reading a fairy tale as a whole class. Ask students to list the characters in the fairy tale. Write the names of characters on chart paper.
  • Introduce the idea of archetypes. Explain that an archetype is a typical example of a specific person or thing.
  • Tell your students that most fairy tales have heroes and villains. These are archetypes because these characters often share the same characteristics.
  • Ask your class to identify the hero(es) and villain(s) in the fairy tale you read.
  • Have your students turn and talk to share their ideas. Tell them to both identify and describe why the characters they picked were heroes or villains.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell your students that today they will be writing their own fairy tales. They can write about whatever they'd like as long as their stories include heroes and villains.
  • Give your class a minute of think time, then ask them to turn and talk to a partner to share their ideas for their original fairy tales.
(20 minutes)
  • Instruct your students to write their fairy tales. Remind them to include clear heroes and villains.
  • If students finish early, have them share their writing with a partner. Partners should identify the heroes and villains in their stories.


  • Have your students read another fairy tale on their own and analyze heroes and villains. Challenge them to identify other common archetypes, such as sidekicks, mentors, and damsels.
  • Encourage students to include examples of additional archetypes in the stories they write.


  • Tell your students to use a simple graphic organizer to plan their story before writing. Fold a piece of paper in half and write "Hero" on one side and "Villain" on the other. Ask students to write descriptions of the heroes/villains and brainstorm plot points before writing.
(5 minutes)
  • Notice how students are including heroes and villains in their stories. Are they demonstrating their understanding of the concept of archetypes? How are they or are they not?
(5 minutes)
  • Hand out one index card to each student. One one side, have them write what they have learned about archetypes. On the other, have them write about how archetypes appeared in their own fairy tales.

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