The story of Hansel and Gretel is a classic folk tale about mistakes, resourcefulness, and using smarts to outwit the “bad guy”. It’s a common tale many of us remember from childhood, and worth revisiting with your child.
The story starts off with Hansel and Gretel, a brother and sister, who usually wait for their father while he works in the forest as a woodcutter. At the beginning of this story, they decide to go off and explore the woods together. Hansel has the good idea to leave a trail behind them as they go deeper into the woods, but makes one big mistake: he uses food as the trail. Because of this, Hansel and Gretel soon find that their trail has disappeared; it’s been eaten up by the forest wildlife.
As it starts to get late, Hansel and Gretel come upon a cottage made of candy in the middle of the woods and go there, devouring the delicious candy on the outside of the house. There they meet an evil witch who takes them into her home and feeds them, but ultimately she has horrible intentions. She feeds them so much they can barely move, and Hansel and Gretel are soon trapped and the witch plans the eat them! In fact, she begins fattening them up by feeding them lots more food in the coming days.
It is here that Hansel and Gretel use their quick thinking to get out of their predicament. Noticing the witch has bad eyesight, Hansel sticks a bone (which the witch thinks is a finger) outside the bars of their cage, which makes the witch think that he is scrawny. When. A few days later, she ultimately decides to eat them anyway, Gretel suggests she help out, but instead tricks the witch into going near the oven and then pushes the witch into the very furnace she had planned on putting the kids in, thus saving the day and giving her and her brother the chance to escape.
The story of Hansel and Gretel ultimately shows the triumph of good characters over the evil character, and teaches several moral lessons in the meantime. In the coming several posts you will find explanations of some of these morals to be used as good starting points for discussions with your children or students, as well as several lesson plans that use the story as a backdrop for learning.