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If the Shoe Fits...

  • Lesson
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Data Analysis and Probability
Location: Unknown

Students use classification skills to compare and contrast versions of the Cinderella story. Students identify similarities and differences between two versions. In addition, they use attributes to classify and sort information.

Engage students in a discussion of characteristics that are typical of fairy tales by asking them to name a fairy tale and explain why they think it is one. Compare this explanation with that of another fairy tale that they name. Focus on students' abilities to generalize by encouraging such statements as "beginnings and endings are predictable," "stories take place 'once upon a time,'" and "good usually wins over evil." Inform students that they will be exploring characters, objects, and events for the fairy tale of Cinderella.

Group students into teams of three or four. Give each group a large sheet of newsprint and a marker. Challenge groups to generate a list of everything they remember about the Cinderella story. Allow three to five minutes for students to generate ten to fifteen ideas.

After generating this list and writing it on the newsprint, give each group a copy of the If the Shoe Fits... Activity Sheet.

pdficonIf the Shoe Fits... Activity Sheet

Have students sort the items on their list into the groups listed on the first section of the activity sheet - Characters, Objects, and Events.

1178 3 scrolls

Examples might include the Prince, the magic wand, and running away at midnight. For those groups that have only one or two items in a category, allow student to expand their list to include at least four or five.

Read aloud the Grimm brothers' version of the Cinderella story. During this reading, have students check off items that appear in any of the three categories and add new items to the lists using a marker of a different color. Ask students to compare and contrast this version and their remembrances.

To create visual representations to communicate the similarities and differences in the versions of the story, challenge students to organize their lists on the second section of the If the Shoe Fits... Activity Sheet so that it is easy to identify those items found only in the Grimm brothers' version, those only in their original lists, and those in both. Observe the format in which students organize the data they generate.

Teacher Note

Through classroom trials of this activity, three formats have emerged. Some students simply present their highlighted lists, some organize the data into three lists (Grimm, ours, both), and others use a Venn diagram or facsimile thereof.

Have selected groups present their results to the entire class to show various ways of representing the information.

Give each group a different multicultural version of the Cinderella story to read (see the Bibliography). Have group members compare it with both the Grimm brothers' version and their own. Ask groups to explain how their multicultural version is more like either the Grimm brothers' version or their own recollections of the fairy tale. Students can record their responses in the third section of the activity sheet.


Heather L. Giancola, Sylvia P. Maxson, and Virginia Usnick (1996). A Tale of Two Stories. Teaching Children Mathematics. Vol. 3, No. 1, (pp. 28-33)


  1. Return to the three categories at the top of the If the Shoe Fits... Activity Sheet and conduct a class discussion to determine which categories had the most similarities and differences when comparing versions of the story. Is it true that various versions of a particular story often maintain the same characters but differ in their plots? What components must a story contain to be considered a version of the Cinderella story? We often hear, for example, of athletic teams being referred to as "Cinderella stories." What does this term mean?
  2. Discuss mathematical and real-world situations in which seeing similarities and differences helps us organize information. Give each group of students two geometric solids, such as a sphere and a cone. Have them determine, organize, and report the characteristics they have in common and the characteristics held by only one or the other.
  3. Create several categories into which numbers can be classified, such as being even, prime, fractions, and whole. Challenge students to think of numbers that may be an element of one set but not of another as well as numbers that will fall into multiple categories.
Data Analysis and Probability

Pigging Out

This lesson uses the story of The Three Little Pigs to motivate students to think and reason mathematically in a number of ways. Students develop reasoning skills and identify similarities and differences through the use of Venn Diagram. Spatial reasoning is also emphasized in this lesson.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Generate data through brainstorming.
  • Identify similarities and differences.
  • Use attributes to classify and sort information.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Design investigations to address a question and consider how data-collection methods affect the nature of the data set.