Fairy tales for primary pupils

Once upon a time …

This learning resource has been created for primary school teachers to use with their P3-P7 pupils to inspire:

  • Creative writing
  • Drama
  • Storytelling
  • Art and design.

Seven sources from the National Library of Scotland's collections highlight different aspects of fairy tales. A larger PDF version of each source is provided which can be used on an interactive whiteboard or downloaded and printed off.

Source 1 introduces the theme of fairy tales as a genre. Sources 2, 3 and 4 explore different character types — the hero, the villain and the helper.

Sources 5 and 6 illustrate two popular fairy tale settings — the forest and the castle. Source 7 takes an image from a fairy tale, and asks: 'What happens next?'

Each activity is mapped to the Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes in Expressive Arts and Literacy and English for first and second levels.

Additional storytelling resources

Macastory logo

Storytellers Fergus McNicol and Ron Fairweather — who work together as Macastory — have created additional activity sheets. They are available as PDF downloads on each source page. Listen to their re-telling of 'Hansel and Gretel'.



The Brothers Grimm

The first edition of 'Grimm's fairy tales' was published in 1812 and was called 'Tales for children and the household' (Kinder-und Hausmärchen). It included many stories which are still popular today, such as:

  • Rapunzel
  • Cinderella
  • Tom Thumb
  • Snow White
  • Sleeping Beauty.

A second volume of fairy tales appeared in 1814.

In what is now Germany, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm worked as librarians and then as scholars and academics. They began collecting folk tales and folk songs in about 1806 when they were both in their early 20s.

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of Grimm's fairy tales in 2012, the 'Illustrating the Brothers Grimm' display features a selection of related material. This display is on at the National Library in Edinburgh and runs from 19 September to 18 November 2012.

Creative writing competitions

'Hansel and Gretel and me' logo

In winter 2013, Scottish Ballet ran a creative writing competition for primary schools in Scotland based on the 'Hansel and Gretel' theme. Some of the ideas in the winning entries were used to inspire the design and concept for the ballet.

There was also a creative writing competition for adults that was run in partnership with 'The Scotsman'.


Source and activity 1



Literature and Language main page


Related material at the Library

Find out more about fairy tales and the Brothers Grimm in our collections:


Search our main catalogue for books about fairy tales and the Brothers Grimm.


Discover more about the Brothers Grimm in our past treasures display.


Hansel and Gretel creative writing competition winners.


Read a news story about the Grimms' Scottish connections in a letter that Jacob Grimm wrote to Sir Walter Scott.


Elsewhere on the web

Find out more about storytelling duo Macastory.


Learn more about traditional tales and stories with the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Library learning for you

If there's a topic you'd like more information about or if you have any suggestions for learning, email us.

Speak me