SOS: SEARCHING OUT STORIES AND INFORMATION - "RUMPELSTILTSKIN"
Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians
(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)
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1) Query: I'm working on study guides with activities for various stories that I tell. Does anyone have any ideas that would work in the classroom that would be a spinoff (pun intended) of Rumpelstiltskin?
a) My daughter is currently reading Judy Sierra's book, Can You Guess My Name?: Traditional Tales Around the World. In it she has three stories that are like Rumpelstiltskin. From Sweden, Titeliture, from Nigeria (Yoruba) "How Ijapa the Tortoise Tricked the Hippopotamus" and from Japan, there's "Oniroku." Are you familiar with these? Might they work?
b) Now you mention it there are some great activities just begging to be used. How about locking up all the children until they've spun a roomful of straw into gold? That way you get loads of peace and quiet, and maybe even get rich. What about getting them all to stamp on the floor until a hole opens them up and swallows them?
I can see you're tempted but not quite convinced. Okay here are some more: Get them to write down as many names as they can think of - perhaps get them in groups and set a time limit, and see who gets the most. (And hey, the winning group don't get imprisoned for the night...? Oh, all right)
Rumpelstiltskin rejected all the conventional names, so the girl tried more obscure ones. Ask the kids to make up names that they've never heard before, but that they could imagine someone being called. This could tie in with a detour to Shakespeare because he invented dozens of names, a number of which are still very popular today - 'Miranda' for instance. If you list a few that he made up (there are websites devoted to the names, and the literally hundreds of words that Shakespeare coined and that then entered the language) and point out that before him nobody had ever been called those, maybe they could get poetic and invent some themselves. You may want to ban any ending in '-face'. Names all mean something. Theres a whole adventure in discovering what familiar names mean, especially one's own. Provide a Name-Your-Baby dictionary, or reference a webpage of such a list, and explore, or develop activities - eg finding the meaning of all your family's first names. For the teacher who has time to prepare: look up the names of all class members and make a list of the meanings. Then have a class activity of guessing whose name has each meaning, before revealing the answers. Of course if half the class have modern literal names like Morning, Sky, River etc, this might not get very far. How about thinking up a name and getting them all to guess what it is? The closest one is allowed to go out and forage for food for the others each night. If they get the right answer they are all allowed home. I recommend choosing a name from the Basque country - something like Xavsqxi.
c) Study Guide for "Ferradiddledumday" and Other Rumpelstiltskin Stories
d) Angela Carter in her Virago Book of Fairy Tales has a great Scandinavian variant which I often tell, "Three Ugly Aunts."
Response to d)
And it's hysterically funny when you tell it!! I just love those aunts!
e) It might be interesting someday to tell a version of the story where ALL the names the girl guesses are ones that the creature does have in one version or another:
Tom-Tit-Tot (England, Suffolk),
Gwarwyn-aThrot,Trwtyn-Tratyn,Sili-Ffrit, Sili-go-dwt (Welsh),
Whuppity Stoorie, Habetrot (Scotland)
Ricdin-Ricdon, Robiquet (French)
Winterkolbe, Panczumanczi/Panzimanzi (Hungary)
Kinkach Martinko (Russia)
f) I often tell a version I heard from Ben Haggarty centered around King Mark of Cornwall wanting to build a cathedral but running out of money to pay for it. There it is Daddy Foulweather who helps him. Anyone heard that version before?
Created 2004; last update 3/1/10
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