Once upon a time, before the dawn of books, people shared tales by word of mouth. In ancient Greece, Homer and Aesop became famous for their storytelling abilities, so much so that their narratives are still retold to this day. The Brothers Grimm traveled around Europe collecting many of the fairy tales that we know today, which became beloved due much in part to filmmaker Walt Disney, who turned them into popular family movies.
Although written and now digital storytelling often takes precedence over verbal communication, the celebration of fairy tales during February offers the perfect opportunity to revive one of the oldest art forms known to humankind. Residents of senior living can get in on the fun, and may particularly enjoy learning with younger relatives. Try one of these activities to get into the spirit of fairy tales and continue a wonderful long-time tradition with loved ones:
Tell a tale
Perhaps the most obvious way to celebrate fairy tales is to pick up a book and start reading. The storytellers above are some of the most famous, but a quick Internet search can uncover people you might not have heard of as well. After you've found a few potential matches, visit the local library and check out some books.
If you're sharing with younger relatives, you might want to look for versions with pictures. You can encourage children to read along with you, or get creative by using different voices to narrate each of the characters. You might also prompt youngsters to share the stories from their own memory, in keeping with the spirit of the oral storytelling tradition.
Write your own story
Feeling inspired by the stories you read? Draft your own fairy tale with younger family members. You can turn it into a game by writing down different objects, people, scenarios and phrases on a piece of paper, then have them draw a few and draft their story around those cues. You can even pick a mood for the activity, dictating that a story has to be happy, goofy or sad.
For instance, they might have to create an uplifting tale that includes a princess, a long journey and the darkest night of the year. Work together, or write separately and compare your drafts after you're both finished. If you like, you can add illustrations as well.
If you're enjoying this activity with multiple young relatives, consider turning the story into a collaborative effort. One person might get to begin the tale, the second person writes the middle and the third participant chooses the conclusion. Alternately, you can swap off every other sentence - this can lead to some especially hilarious situations.
Research a favorite fairy tale
Young family members may have a favorite Disney movie or another modern film, television show or play that they don't realize is actually based on a much older tale. Investigate the background of some recent works and you might be surprised what you find as well.
After you've read and viewed the different versions of the same story, have a chat about how the original stories compare to the ones that you know and love today. What changes do you notice? Why do you think the tale has evolved over time? Do you like the original story more, or prefer the modernization?
Just one point of warning: Some older fairy tales tend to be on the violent side, and could be frightening to particularly young children. Be sure to review the story yourself before bringing them into the activity to ensure that it's appropriate for their maturity level.