Once Upon a Time (Countdown 1, February 2020)

story by Sara Matson , photo blue jay bird by watts_photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Worksheet: What makes a good story



EN2-8B | ACELA1478 | EN2-9B | ACELA1479 | EN2-4A | ACELA1480


Narrative. Genre – Fairy Tale

Introduce text type and narrative language features. The story - Once Upon A Time, is a great opportunity to look at the structure of narratives using the fairy tale, which follow predictable patterns of both text and language. The following routine helps students to understand the features of the text, focusing on how paragraphs are formed.

Predict before reading – Ask students the following questions. What does the title tell you about the type of story this is? ‘Once upon a Time’ tells us this is a fairy tale. What are some other story openings that tell you that this is a fairy tale? Here are some fairy tale story starters.

After reading: Revisit the questions above and compare their previous answers.

Discuss – Look at all the areas of dialogue in this story. The story is mostly told through the dialogue between Bluebird and Bear. Each time a new person speaks, the line is indented, so we know there is a new paragraph. There are more indents in this text than just the dialogue. Are they all paragraphs too?

View When to Start a New Paragraph then students can highlight the other paragraphs on a photocopy of the text or in their magazines. These paragraphs begin with a topic sentence/paragraph opener which predicts how the paragraph will develop, and the following sentences support the main idea of each paragraph.

In this story, there are paragraph breaks every time someone new speaks and when the time is changed -

page 22 – The next morning, …

page 23 – The next day, …

page 24 – The next day, …

page 25 – The next night, …

page 25 – Once upon a time, …

Create a class poster for Text structure and language features for fairy tales.

Add the fairy tale story starters and paragraph rules along with other items generated as you work through this resource.

Students can use this Story Map to analyse the structure of the story.


Engaging personally

EN2-8B | ACELT1599 | ACELT1600


One of the reasons that Once upon a Time is so engaging, is that it follows the regular structure of a fairy tale, but the story has a surprise ending. This device is also called a twist because the story takes an unexpected turn. On reaching the end of the story, the reader realises that Once Upon a Time is the story that leads to the writing of another famous fairy tale - Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The reader realises that Bear is actually Baby Bear.

Discuss how this twist could be used for other fairy tales. What could have happened before? Students write a story about what happened before the story of another fairy tale such as Hansel and Gretel, Three Little Pigs or Cinderella.

Complete this Literature Response Prompt to encourage students to develop and explore questions and ideas

Write a summary of the events and encourage students to conclude with a personal comment about whether the ending was predictable or whether it was a total surprise. Look at the hints the author gave the audience throughout the text, referring to Papa Bear, porridge and how Bear likes to sleep in the sun.

How to Write a Summary: Lesson for kids video will assist them with their summary.



EN2-11D | ACELT1596 | EN2-12E | ACELT1598


Connecting text to self.

Once Upon a Time is a story about not giving up when facing a challenge, but there is a deeper message here that most children will relate to in some way.

Brainstorm using the following questions:

Have you ever had a situation where you -

Felt you had to perform to the same standard as everybody else to succeed?

Felt you had to change yourself in some way to succeed?

Found that just working hard may not be the answer if the problem has not been thought through properly?

Found that it was better just to be you?

Create a class brainstorm/mind map to show how many students may have similar challenges.


Connecting text to text

Activate prior knowledge of the Rule of Three.

Discuss the following: In fairy tales, there are many stories that feature three of something.

For example, Goldilocks and the THREE Bears, The THREE Little Pigs, The THREE Billy Goat’s Gruff. The Rule of Three is all around us, not just in fairy tales. It seems that readers or audiences find three more satisfying, two is not enough, four is too much, three is ‘just right’. It can apply to photography, architecture and even advertising slogans! The Rule of Three in Picture Books explains this in more depth.

In Once Upon a Time, the structure of the text is also broken into three events. In the first event, Bear gets it wrong, the second event, Bear gets it wrong but the third event, he gets it right. The Rule of three is also present in the structure as well as the title of Goldilocks and the Three Bears – the porridge is too hot, too cold and finally just right.

Create a class display of these texts and any others the students may find. Include other texts in The School Magazine to see if you can find any examples of the rule of three.


Engaging Critically

EN2-8B | ACELT1600 | EN2-4A | ACELT1598


Identify inferential elements by discussing and writing answers below in student reading comprehension journals.

Bluebird says that Owl is smart because ‘she uses a lot of long words.’

Discuss this in a think pair share. What makes a person smart? Does using long words like owl, make you smart? If someone sounds smart, are they really smart? What makes a person smart?

Bluebird tells Bear that Owl has finished, and that ‘her description of the sunrise takes up 100 pages alone!’

Discuss: What effect would a 100-page description of a sunset have on a reader? Is that likely to slow the story down? Does it show that Owl is trying to show how clever she is? If she wants readers to be excited about her writing, what does she need to do to keep them engaged and excited?

Bluebird looked wise. ‘Owl says a story’s supposed to teach you something.’

Discuss: What do you think the message of the story is? Is it about winning? Is it about how to be smart? Is it about the difference between producing quantity over quality? Is it about being yourself and uses the skills you feel comfortable with? Is it about the dangers of comparing yourself to other people? Is it about listening to your self-doubt and not even trying for fear of failure?

Visual Literacy

Discuss the illustrations and the information they present

What type of visual text is this?

What is its purpose? (To entertain.)

Who is the intended audience?

How have the elements been arranged?

What is the overall mood of the image?

What techniques contribute to this mood?

Create a ‘shot angles’ class display using the front cover and illustrations from the story on pages 23, 24 & 25. Here is an example of how to read the images for salience (the part of an image to which the viewer’s eye is first drawn).

Image Shot Angle and purpose Shot distance Meaning
Page 23


Viewer is looking straight ahead and normally would be more intimate with the character’s emotions. Between a long and close up, where both the subject and some background is included. Normally, the reader/viewer would be able to read the expression on Bear’s face and be able to read his emotions. Here we read the crumpled paper on the floor, which could indicate frustration, perfectionism or another emotion.
Page 24


Viewer is looking straight ahead. This could be through Bear’s eyes, his point of view. Mid shot not much background detail, the focus is on the title of the story. On an equal standing as the character. Feeling of being placed in their situation. Reader can relate to the task of writing.
Page 25


Slightly from above –shows the place and the character, sets the scene. Long or wide shot Characters are posing for a photograph. The power belongs to the viewer. Observing rather than interacting. It establishes that Bear and Goldilocks had a good relationship in the end.




EN2-2A | ACELY1682 | ACELT1791 | EN2-4A | ACELY1685


Compose additional dialogue - what would Owl say if she was talking to the other characters? What sort of character is she? Would she be full of her own importance, or wise and generous in sharing with her vast knowledge?

Use this character map to structure ideas about Owl. Ask students to include dialogue speech and thought bubbles to show what owl could be thinking or saying. Look at the clues in the text such as the importance owl places on her writing and what she considers to be ‘good work’.

Create an illustration for the story based on the image on page 23. Bears face is hidden, and we can read his emotions from the crumpled paper on the floor. How could you create a similar illustration for the other characters if their faces were hidden? What objects would they need around them to communicate their emotions?

Create a PowerPoint to show the illustration on the IWB. The advantage here is that dialogue or written text from the illustration can be hidden and revealed later. Student’s peers can try to decode the meaning of the illustrations first.

Present the illustrations to the whole class. Ask - What can we infer from this picture?

Use this storyboard template to write a script and make a play.

Write a letter from Owl to Bear or vice versa, about the approach to writing that is the best. Use a Persuasive letter template.