Hans Christian Andersen, Magic Maker
Hans Christian Andersen was a spinner of fine tales that have been read to children for generations.
By Kristen Kindoll
As the word spread through the village that Hans Christian Andersen was on the way, children scrambled out of their homes, and abandoned their games. Everyone came out to meet the famed storyteller. A throng of excited people gathered around the gangly man with an angular face and protruding nose. A group of admirers sat cross-legged, but still, as the whooping and chattering stopped. Standing at the center of the circle, Andersen produced a pair of silver scissors from his inner jacket pocket, and removed a piece of crisp, white paper from a hidden compartment in his clothes. As he started his story, he took the first snip. The words and white paper flew in unison. In the end, a marvelous paper creation marked the end of the tale.
Hans Christian Andersen stories, such as "The Steadfast Tin Soldier", "The Ugly Duckling", "The Little Mermaid", and "Thumbelina" have become childhood favorites. These hauntingly sad, but morally rich stories, have been read to generations of children. Although these stories were designed for children, they are also enjoyed by adults.
Andersen did not have a story book life. He was born in Odense, Denmark in 1805. He was said to have noble blood, but this was never proven. However, King Frederick VI did show some interest in Andersen. In fact, his education was sponsored by the king. In time, Andersen had to support himself. He stumbled through several endeavors which were mostly artistic. Eventually, the idea of using his natural gift of poetry came to the forefront and was encouraged. His journey into writing began. In 1835, his first volume of stories was published. It was simply called Fairy Tales.
Hans Christian Andersen's personal relationships were complicated. He was socially awkward and he often unintentionally offended people. However, children adored him and were his valiant supporters. Andersen died after a fall from his bed. At the time of his death, the Danish government had been paying Andersen a stipend, and he was considered a “national treasure." A statue was erected in his honor in Copenhagen. Andersen produced many volumes of poetry and books throughout his life. Since his death, his stories and tales have been translated into more than 150 languages. Here are some lesson plans to help you enjoy a variety of fairy tales.
Fairy Tale Lesson Plans:
This lesson explores several of the author’s famous stories. Students will be able to reference key details in the tales. They will also garner needed background information to make plays of the stories. Students are encouraged to eat and prepare Danish food.
In this lesson children read well known fairy tales from a variety of sources. The traditional endings are tinkered and changed. This allows students to learn about fantasy, the imagination, and storytelling without making students create something completely new, which can be difficult for non-writers.
This lesson has students learn about Denmark and its resources. Students make a journal with entries for their imaginary journey around the country. They learn about animals, plants and key geographical features.
In this lesson Hans Christian Andersen’s story is used as a discussion spring board. Social values of fairness, equality and other moral issues are explored in relation to current human rights issues.