Week 2 (Abby, Rosie, Ben, Rebecca): Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your…?

Though it was certainly eventful, I can definitely say our second time at Overby-Sheppard was a good deal calmer than the first. After wearing the kids down with a fairy-tale-themed version of Sharks and Minnows, we succeeded in getting the attention of three little boys and a girl. We read them a richly illustrated version of the story of Rapunzel, based directly off of the Grimm version, which really seemed to capture their attention. Predictably, there were points where the story blended in their mind with the Disney movie Tangled, but they were certainly curious, and loved to pick out small details in the pictures.
We often asked them before turning the page what would happen next, and interestingly a few of the kids did not expect the witch to be evil at all, despite the fact that the book depicted her as a “sorceress” which they seemed to understand. When they saw her towering menacingly over Rapunzel’s parents they simply called her an “old lady” who, in their mind, was morally neutral. Of course, when the witch cast the pregnant Rapunzel out of the tower, and tricked her prince, there was less ambiguity.
I was a bit surprised that the kids took a while to latch onto the phrase “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair,” despite the fact that it was repeated about five times. What’s also interesting is the fact that when we later reconstructed the Rapunzel story (albeit a little unsuccessfully) the hair was not even considered essential to the plot. Of course she was beautiful and kept in a tower but the hair was not included, and the prince managed to find her and rescue her anyway. Actually the element of the story that they kept insisting on was that the prince and princess got married, and they continued to skip ahead to the marriage before the plot had really gone anywhere. It seems like despite the fact that we had a 3:1 ratio boys to girls, there was a strong emphasis on how the prince met the princess, whether they would be together, and how their marriage took place (the ceremony in the tower was a bit confusing to them, probably since it didn’t resemble a normal marriage).
However, in the end, they seemed interested in the direction of the story and at least one boy kept careful track of the recurring elements in the story (the reason for Rapunzel’s imprisonment, the pregnancy of Rapunzel’s mother and then, later, Rapunzel herself).
They seemed entranced by the visual aspect of the story, and I think next time we’ll try letting them draw or color in pictures.
We also already selected another story (based on popular vote), Puss in Boots. I’m guessing this is because of the new Puss in Boots movie (Shrek was mentioned quite a few times) so we’ll see whether they incorporate movie elements more often than they did with Rapunzel and Tangled.

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