RIC-20938 Early years Fairytales - Ugly Duckling

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The ugly duckling

A complete unit of lessons and activities

Early years themes—Fairytales

Published by R.I.C. Publications ® 2011

Copyright © R.I.C. Publications ® 2011


Titles in this series:

Early years themes—Places

Early years themes—People

Early years themes—Animals

Early years themes—Science

Early years themes—Fantasy

Early years themes—Fairytales

Early years themes—Special days and celebrations

Copyright Information

Only the blackline masters contained within this

publication may only be reproduced by the original

purchaser for use with their class(es). The publisher

prohibits the loaning or onselling of these blackline

masters for purposes of reproduction. No other part

of this publication may be reproduced in any form or

by any means, electronic or mechanical, including

photocopying or recording, or by any information

storage and retrieval system, without written

permission from the publisher.

Accompanying resources available:

Early years themes—Fairytales Posters (set of 5)

Early years themes—Fairytales Stickers (set of 5)

Early years themes Interactive CD (Places, People,

Animals, Science)

Early years themes Interactive CD (Fantasy, Fairytales,

Special days and celebrations)

Internet websites

In some cases, websites or specific URLs may be recommended. While these are checked and rechecked at the time of publication,

the publisher has no control over any subsequent changes which may be made to webpages. It is strongly recommended that the class

teacher checks all URLs before allowing students to access them.

View all pages online

PO Box 332 Greenwood Western Australia 6924

Website: www.ricpublications.com.au

Email: mail@ricgroup.com.au

Teachers notes

The format of this series of books

This series of books is designed to cater for early childhood teachers who use learning centres and cross-curricular activities as

a basis for planning activities to develop key concepts and skills. Teachers will easily be able to locate activity-based learning

within this complete compilation of ideas.

All of the five themes within each book follow the same format over 20 pages. Each theme consists of:

1. A title or cover page with

appropriate artwork which the

teacher can utilise for themebased


2. A number of pages of cross-curricular learning activities to develop the

theme. Those themes which relate closely to a specific learning area may

have more activities in key learning areas such as science. All themes

have activities which are predominantly ‘hands-on’.

3. Background information with useful facts about the theme.

4. A list of concepts to be developed provides suggested developmentallyappropriate

learning outcomes to be achieved by completing the theme.

iv Early years themes—Fairytales www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

Teachers notes

The format of this series of books

5. A small number of resource/blackline pages which can be used

to create games or oral language activities, as templates for art

and craft activities or as worksheets for more capable children who

are beginning to read and understand mathematical concepts.

6. Recipes relating to the theme—

simple cooking and non-cooking

recipes, including those for

manipulative play, such as ‘goop’.

7. Display ideas for art and craft or

specific learning centres.

8. A list of literature resources to

complement the theme, including

songs, action rhymes and fiction

and nonfiction books.

9. A notes section to enable the teacher

to record useful websites or resources

relating to the theme, or other

worthwhile activities or ideas etc.

R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales v

Teachers notes

An explanation of the icons

A number of icons have been used throughout the cross-curricular activities sections to make it easier and quicker for teachers to

locate appropriate learning activities.

Fine motor activities—building with blocks, puzzles, sorting, sand and water play, sensory items

such as ‘feely boxes’, playdough or clay work, threading, chalkboards, construction using recycled

materials such as boxes

Outdoor play—sand and/or water play (see also ‘fine motor activities’); gross motor activities such as

climbing, balancing, bikes, scooters, jumping, throwing, obstacle course activities etc.; tracking activities

using balloons and bubbles etc.; other messy art activities

Dramatic play—home corner, dramatising stories, dressing up, puppets, shopping etc.

Art and craft—free painting, directed and supervised painting,

craft (assisted and independent)

Computer—suggestions for simple games or activities

(usually individual or pairs) or relevant internet activities

Cooking—supervised activities, some of which use heat

Games—indoor or outdoor games relating to literacy such as card

games, memory games etc.; mathematics, singing games, any

physical education games involving movement etc.

Writing—tracing, copying, writing on, and with, different things—cards, different types of paper etc.;

adding patterns or stripes etc.; tracking and following paths, dot-to-dot activities etc.

vi Early years themes—Fairytales www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

Teachers notes

About the artwork

All the artwork in this series of books is:

• age-appropriate

• teacher- and child-friendly

• an additional resource to help develop the theme

• suitable for enlarging for:

~ colouring

~ handwriting

~ dot-to-dot sheets

~ use as templates for art and craft activities

~ visual texts to encourage oral language development.

Some artworks are based on simple shapes to support learning in the mathematics

area; others are more elaborate. It is anticipated that early childhood teachers will

view an illustration based on shapes and be able to use this idea to develop concrete

play activities using shapes or as a technology and design project. More elaborate

artwork is used to demonstrate a teaching resource which needs to be made, a recipe,

game or other activity.

Examples of artwork relating to art and craft activities have wide, bold, easily visible

cutting outlines to allow the children some variation in the cutting path they will use.

About the resource sheets/blacklines

Resource sheets/blacklines contain:

• simple, age-appropriate artwork

• prominent visual clues

• little or no text

• visual clues to support text pages

• few instructions, so as not to confuse beginning readers

• teacher instructions in the margins with a number of different

suggestions for using the resource sheet/blackline

• literacy and numeracy activities.

These resource sheets/blacklines are included as valuable time-savers

for teachers.

It is anticipated that the teacher will enlarge any pages to A3 size and

photocopy them onto more durable paper or card, to make them easier

for learners of this age group to manipulate.

The cross-curricular section of each theme includes a reference to

resource sheets/blacklines relating to specific activities.

R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales vii

Teachers notes

Curriculum links

All the learning activities in this series of books support the key learning areas of the current curriculum documents.

In particular, one or more activities also support each strand of the new English and Mathematics National Curriculum. The

specific strands from the National Curriculum relating to each activity are denoted by the words in brackets in the English and

Mathematics learning areas of the cross-curricular section.

For example, in the ‘The three billy goats Gruff’ theme:

English Talk about the use of capital letters for the beginning of special names such as ‘Gruff’. Create a goat from

a large capital ‘G’. Use cardboard, paper, crayons and googly eyes. Alternatively, cover a lower-case ‘g’

with Easter grass. (Language)


Reference to both is shown below.

Provide coloured pattern blocks or coloured paper shapes for the children to create goat shapes from.

(Measurement and Geometry)

Relevant curriculum reference






National Curriculum: refer to pages 6 and 11 of Shape of the Australian Curriculum: English

National Curriculum: refer to pages 6 and 7 of Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics

National Curriculum: Science learning activities also support pages 6 and 7 of Shape of the Australian

Curriculum: Science

Belonging, being and becoming: The early years framework for Australia (2009)

Refer to Early years curriculum guidelines page 55 (Table 9: A

summary of the learning statements in the early learning areas)

and pages 61–75.

Refer to ‘Early years band: Age 3–Age 5’. South Australian

Curriculum, Standards and Accountability at .

Refer to Victorian essential learning standards Level 1 at


Refer to K-3 scope-and-sequence charts at .

viii Early years themes—Fairytales www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

Teachers notes

Sample social skills checklist


Student name

separates easily from


interacts readily with


interacts readily with


shares with others and

takes turns

participates in group


cooperates with others

accepts responsibility

for own behaviour

respects the property

of others

respects the feelings of


listens without


expresses feelings


solves simple problems

is developing an

awareness of the wider


R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales ix

Teachers notes

Sample language skills checklist


Student name

communicates needs clearly

articulates most words correctly

relates personal experiences

contributes to discussions

uses age-appropriate


articulates most initial sounds


asks appropriate questions

speaks in complete sentences

relates events in order of


able to tell a story from pictures

retells a familiar story without

pictures or clues

uses simple compound


responds appropriately to

questions about himself/herself

listens to a story for a given

length of time

follows simple two-step


knows his/her first and last


recognises rhyming words

answers simple oral cloze


labels emotions such as happy,

sad, angry, scared …

x Early years themes—Fairytales www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

Teachers notes

Sample fine motor skills checklist


Student name

completes simple puzzles

builds a tower of eight or more

small blocks

dresses himself/herself (apart

from buttons and shoelaces)

manipulates playdough to

create a specific object

places small pegs in small


threads small beads

uses scissors to cut out simple

shapes and pictures

completes simple folding


uses a knife, fork and spoon


holds a crayon or pencil


colours within lines

writes or copies own name

draws and copies simple


copies a sequence of letters or

numbers adequately

traces or recreates patterns

R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales xi

Teachers notes

Sample fundamental movement skills checklist


Explicit teaching


Student name

balances on one

foot (static balance)


jumps vertically

catches a ball or



throws a ball or

beanbag using an

overarm movement

gallops sideways



kicks a ball

strikes a ball or

object using a twohanded


dodges a ball or


xii Early years themes—Fairytales www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

Teachers notes

Sample mathematics skills checklist


Number and algebra Measurement and geometry Statistics and probability

Student name

recognises numerals 1 to

writes numerals 1 to

rote counts to

places numerals to

in correct order

understands one-to-one


understands ‘more than’ and ‘less


able to do simple addition and

subtraction using concrete materials

shares collections

creates or completes a pattern

measures using everyday items

makes comparison of size and


recognises basic shapes

identifies attributes of objects and


is aware of use of devices used

for measuring (scales, tape etc.)

shows awareness of

(money, temperature, time)

sorts or orders objects

is aware of collections and

presentations of data

interprets data in a display

makes predictions about chance


R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales xiii

xiv Early years themes—Fairytales www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

Cross-curricular activities

• Read two or more different versions of ‘The ugly

duckling’ to the children and compare them. Discuss

each cover illustration, author’s name (if applicable),

illustrator’s name, illustrations, text and back cover.

Talk about the differences and similarities in authors,

events, characters, text and illustrations. Ask them to

say which version they prefer. Count the votes if desired.

(Language, Literature)

• Encourage the children to bring any versions of the

fairytale which they may have at home to display or

talk about. (Language, Literature)

• Read a variety of other fairytales to the children so that

they are familiar with the beginning and ending phrases

(For example: ‘Once upon a time …’ and ‘… they lived

happily ever after’.) Explain that fairytales usually

include these phrases. (Language, Literacy)

• Revise or introduce the initial sounds of ‘u’ for ‘ugly’ and ‘d’

for ‘duckling’. List as a class, or encourage the children as

individuals to write or draw pictures of other words which

begin with ‘u’ or ‘d’ on an umbrella or duckling shape.


• As a class, make up sensible or nonsense phrases and

sentences using words starting with ‘u’ and ‘d’, for example:

‘ugly umbrella’ and ‘dirty dumplings’. Clap the syllables in

the phrases. Provide paper and drawing implements to

allow the children to draw funny pictures describing the

phrases and sentences. Urge the children to make up

some of their own to illustrate, if desired. Encourage them

to try to write their own words. (Language)

• Introduce or revise the ‘s’ sound for ‘swan’. Brainstorm to

list, write and draw pictures of things which begin with ‘s’.

(Language, Literacy)

• Talk about words relating to the story which are

opposites: ugly/beautiful, fat/thin, rich/poor, fast/

slow, wet/dry, young/old, good/bad, happy/sad, safe/

dangerous etc. Dramatise any which are applicable,

such as fast/slow.(Language)

• Play the game ‘I am thinking of a word which rhymes

with “swan”’. Provide a clue to help the children guess.

Use words such as on, gone, John, bonbon and

Taiwan. (Language)


• Brainstorm to list words which rhyme with ‘ugly’ and

‘duckling’. (Language)

• Introduce, or revise, the term ‘characters’. Select specific

characters in the story to discuss. Ask: ‘What are they

like?’, ‘What did they do?’. Be sure to select characters

relevant to the particular version of the fairytale being

used. Complete a similar activity about ‘settings’.

Provide paper and implements for the children to draw

pictures of the farm, the marshes, the cottage and the

garden. (Literature)

• Clap the syllables in specific words relating to the story;

for example: duckling, ugly, swan. (Language)

• Make up a class fairytale. Sit in a circle. The teacher

starts the fairytale with ‘Once upon a time …’ and

then each child is given an opportunity to add a line

to the story. For those children who are reticent or

need inspiration, provide pictures of various fairytalelike

characters (witch, fairy, dwarf, giant, troll etc.),

places (castle, forest, lake etc.) and related items (a

magic wand, a bottle labelled poison etc.). This allows

these children to select a picture of something they

would like to add to the class fairytale. When the story

is completed, ask each child to illustrate his/her own

part of the story. To make remembering each part of

the fairytale easier, tape the activity on a recorder or

camera. (Language, Literature, Literacy)

• Place A4- or A3-sized outlines of the lower-case letter

‘u’ at the writing table for the children to add features to

make it ‘ugly’. Discuss what types of things the children

think would make a person (or animal) look ‘ugly’ and

why. Provide a variety of coloured drawing utensils (as

suggested by the children) and collage materials to

complete an ugly ‘u’. (Language, Literacy)

• Provide cardboard copies of

the letter ‘s’ for the children to

add white paper shapes and/or

feathers onto to create a swan.

(Language, Literacy)

• Practise wavy writing patterns

by using large implements such

as crayons and blue paint and

paintbrushes. Use the patterns

to create a pond for a duck

or swan. Refer to page 70.

(Language, Literacy)

62 Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

The ugly duckling – 1


• Look at, and compare, the sizes of various eggs:

duck, swan, turkey, emu, chicken, ostrich etc. Order

from largest to smallest, or smallest to largest. Use

templates of different sizes to trace around and cut out

the different-sized eggs. In order of size, from largest

to smallest, the eggs are: ostrich, emu, turkey, swan,

duck and chicken. Refer to page 71. (Measurement

and Geometry)

Ostrich egg Swan egg Turkey egg Duck egg Lark egg

• Play the game ‘Place the eggs in the nest’. Provide

children with coloured, laminated, cardboard nest

shapes, and up to 10 smaller egg shapes. When

asked, the children place a given number of eggs in

the nest. Alternatively, nest shapes can be created for

a specific number of egg outlines for the children to

complete. (Number and Algebra)

• Place a variety of different sized, coloured and dressed

rubber ducks in the water tray. Ask the children to sort

them into groups and give reasons for placing the

ducks in the categories. (Number and Algebra)

• At the bottom of recycled egg cartons, write the numbers

1 to 12 (or use half of a carton and write the numbers 1

to 6) using black marker. Give each child an egg carton

and ask them to place the correct number of counters in

each space as directed. (Number and Algebra)

• Talk about mathematical words which are opposites

such as big/little, tall/short, fat/thin, full/empty, long/

short, near/far, high/low. Relate these to various

aspects of the story; for example: the duckling was little

but the mother duck was big; spring was warm but

winter was cold. (Measurement and Geometry)

• Use coloured wooden blocks to create a duck or swan

shape. A pattern block template can be provided or the

children could be encouraged to create their own. Once

the shape duck or swan is completed, count how many

shapes were used in total, as well as the number of

each type used. Encourage the children to make more

than one duck or swan shape and to use different

shapes. Refer to page 69 for a duck template to use.

(Measurement and Geometry, Number and Algebra)

• Sequence pictures of the main events of ‘The ugly duckling’

in the correct order. Refer to page 75. (Measurement and


• Play a ‘How many legs?’ counting game with the

children. Ask: ‘In the nest, there was one egg. How

many legs were there after the duckling hatched?’

Repeat the game using a different number of eggs in

the nest and hatched ducklings. (Number and Algebra)

• Make simple word patterns using the words ‘duck’ and

‘swan’—e.g. ‘duck, duck, swan, duck, duck, swan’.

Use the children (wearing simple masks or headbands

with duck or swan shapes on them) to stand in line to

create the patterns. (Statistics and Probability)

• Discuss the possibility of a mother duck confusing

a duck’s egg with a swan’s egg. (Statistics and

probability; Understanding)

• Discuss how the swan’s egg came to be in the duck’s

nest: Who could have put it there? Why? How possible

is it that each reason given may have occurred?

(Statistics and probability)

• On a basic duckling shape, ask the children to cut (or

tear), and glue on small pieces of grey or dull-coloured

tissue paper squares or circles to cover the whole area.

Overlap them to create a textured ‘feathery’ effect. When

dry, cut off any paper protruding over the outline. Add

googly eyes and a coloured paper triangular beak.

(Measurement and Geometry)

R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling 63

Cross-curricular activities

Society and environment

• Swans build a nest in which to lay their eggs. Look at

images of swans’ nests and use large wooden blocks to

construct similar nests. Talk about other animal homes

and their names—burrow, den, lair, hutch, pond, hive,

cocoon, kennel, stable etc.

• Ask the children to relate personal experiences relating

to swans or ducks. Ask the children where they went to

see the swans and/or ducks, what the event was and

what happened. Encourage them to describe the birds’

feet, feathers, colour, shape and size. The children may

wish to draw or write about the experience for a class


• The ugly duckling’s was the last, and largest, egg to

hatch. This means he was the youngest in the family.

Ask the children about their position in the family. Are

they the oldest/youngest/only/middle? Encourage the

children to find out how much they weighed at birth

and, if possible, bring in a baby photo of themselves

and their favourite baby toy. They may also be able to

find out the exact time they ‘hatched’.

• Swans eat mostly underwater vegetation (such as

roots, tubers, stems and leaves), but in winter they

also eat grass or grains. Occasionally, they may also

eat insects and some aquatic animals. Talk about how

swans get the underwater food. Some wildlife parks

provide specially prepared bags of grain for visitors

to buy to feed to ducks or swans. If possible, let the

children examine some.

• Sequence pictures in the correct order to show the

progression from egg to adult swan. Refer to page 72.

Health and physical education

• Hold an egg-and-spoon race using plastic or hard-boiled

eggs. Have the children walk, run or waddle to a designated

spot while balancing the egg on the spoon.

• Teach the children this skipping rope rhyme (starting

with ‘d’) which they can use to play games within the

playground: ‘Dum-dum-dodo’. Catch me if you can, I can

jump better than can’. Select a child to jump while

the verse is being recited. Then the named person enters

the rope and selects someone else.

• Play the game ‘Duck, duck, goose’ but change the words to

‘Duck, duck, swan’. Refer to for instructions to

how to play.

• Create an obstacle course representing the major events in

the story in order: Provide hoops for the children to ‘waddle’

around in like ducks in a nest; lay out a large plastic

tarpaulin to swim across on stomachs; set up witch’s hats

(marshy area) to run through; cover adult-sized chairs

with a blanket as the cottage to creep through; provide a

balance beam to walk across (or balance flat on the back)

to represent the frozen lake; provide a triangular climbing

frame to traverse (for the farmer’s hut); provide a balancing

board representing the cold, hard winter; and, finally, set

up swings to ‘fly high’ like a swan.

• Provide your children with eggs cooked in different

ways (hard-boiled, scrambled, poached, fried etc.)

and let them taste the difference and state their


• Find images of cygnets (baby swans) and ducklings

from internet or book resources and ask: ‘Are the

cygnets ugly?’ Hopefully, the answer will be ‘No’.

The children should then look at the ducklings and

answer a similar question: ‘Are the ducklings ugly?’

Ask the children why the other animals might have

teased and bullied him. Lead them to the notion

that he was ‘different’. Discuss how wrong it is to

tease and bully others just because they may look


• After reading the story, talk about its main message:

that everyone is special. Talk about how mean the

other ducklings were, then discuss some of the

nice things they could have said instead. Discuss

how important words are. Create and write down or

memorise some nice things the children can say to

each other.

64 Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

The ugly duckling – 2


• Ask the children to make ‘ugly’ faces while looking at a

small mirror. Provide sheets of art paper and drawing

implements, including large black crayons. Fold the

paper in half (landscape position) and ask the children

to sketch their ‘ugly’ face on one side and their normal

‘beautiful’ face on the other. Encourage the children to

draw large enough to fill each half and to include all

details, lines and shapes that they see. Ask the children

to write or copy a label for each side. (NOTE: Be sensitive

to children with low self-esteem.)

• Bring a pair of children’s swimming flippers or thick

rubber gloves for the children to wear while pretending

to walk like ducks and swans.

• Provide a wide brown, grey or white scarf, gathered in

the middle, for the children to use as a pair of wings

while pretending to be the ugly duckling or swan. Ask

the children to hold the ends and move their arms like

flapping wings. Have two pairs to use in a waddling or

flying race over a distance.

My beautiful face

My ugly face

• Use a hot-glue gun (or strong glue) to edge plastic

children’s sunglasses with white, grey or brown feathers

for use as masks in the dramatic play area. Alternatively,

use a cardboard template for the children to make their

own. Refer to page 74.

• Create simple stick or felt finger puppets for use with

a class-made puppet theatre. (Cut apart a recycled

packing box so that it has a front and two sides to

support it. Cut out a window from the front section and

tape this to the bottom to help support the theatre. Paint

and decorate with sequins, glitter and stickers. Attach a

piece of material on dowelling for a moveable curtain.)


• Select children to dramatise or role-play events or

scenes from the story.

• Purchase inexpensive feather boas for the children to

wrap around themselves to experience being covered

in feathers. If desired, attach them securely to an old

T-shirt so that the children appear to have feathers

covering their entire body.

• Ask the parents to donate old clothes or costumes

to enable the children to dress up as their favourite

character from a fairytale.

• Select and play various types of

music (slow, fast, sad and happy)

for the children to glide, swim

quickly, run, waddle, fly, be sad and

happy to.

• Reinforce levels of movement by

asking the children to waddle low to

the ground (like a duck or swan) and

stretch up high with arms spread to

fly through the air.

• Listen to various farm animal sounds such as ducks quacking. Visit

to listen to sounds relating to swans. (Some make very

little sound at all!)

• Learn simple fingerplays about ducks such as ‘Five little ducks went out

one day …’ and ‘Six little ducks that I once knew …’.

• Listen to excerpts from Swan Lake and ask the children to move to the


• Listen to ‘The last grey swan’ at .

• Visit to

listen to excerpts from ‘The little swan’ by Ven Olac.

• Various singing versions relating to ‘The ugly duckling’, such that sung

by Danny Kaye, and ‘The ugly duckling blues’ by Susan Harrison, are

available from internet sources.

R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling 65

Cross-curricular activities


• What other creatures hatch from eggs? Make a list and

find pictures of them. Include pictures of birds, reptiles

such as snakes and crocodiles, chickens, fish and


• Talk about, and list, names (such as ‘duckling’ and

‘cygnet’) for other baby animals. If possible, find

pictures and label each with the correct baby animal

name for a chart to display in the writing corner.

• Where do I live? Ducks and swans live near small

bodies of water such as ponds, lakes and wetlands.

Ask the children where specific animals may live; e.g.

‘I am a pig. I live in a s .’ Include both domestic

and wild animals. Extend the activity by asking the

children to use large wooden construction blocks to

build different animal habitats.

• Discuss the seasons, winter and spring, mentioned

in the story. Fold sheets of paper into halves for each

child to draw a winter picture on one side and a spring

picture on the other. Attach a baby cygnet (or ugly

duckling), cut from coloured paper, to the winter side

and a white swan to the spring side. If desired, paint the

two different sides of a paper plate to represent winter

and spring.

• Ducks and swans have feathers which cover their body.

What do other animals have as coverings? Find books

with pictures of animals with fur, scales, skin, shells,

hair, spines, armour etc. Cut and glue pictures on card

to create collages labelled ‘These animals all have

feathers/fur/shells/scales … ’ etc.

• Carry out reflection experiments. The ugly duckling was

very surprised when he saw his reflection in the water,

and he had changed into a swan. Ask the children to

study their reflection in the water tray or a large plastic

container of water. Test to see if the reflection is clearer

in the sun or shade. Pull faces to make sad, happy,

ugly and other faces. Make ripples in the water with

fingers or pencils to see how the reflection changes.

Carry out similar activities using mirrors but distort the

images using plastic cling wrap, greaseproof or baking

paper, or lines drawn across the mirror using fingers

dipped in Vaseline .

• Look at pictures of different

kinds of eggs and compare

them in relation to size and

colour. Try to match each to

the correct animal.

• If possible, obtain some duck

feathers and demonstrate,

by pouring water over them,

how ducks stay dry.

Technology and design

• Hold ‘rubber ducky’ races. Use energy provided by

blowing to propel two rubber ducks across the water

tray. The child whose duck reaches the other side first

is the winner.

• Talk about different ways ducks and swans move—

swim, glide, fly. Dramatise each type of movement.

• Complete various online duck jigsaw

puzzles at .

• Colour a picture of the ugly duckling

at .

• View, and/or listen to, a version of ‘The ugly duckling’ on the internet.

• Provide a variety of white materials such as serviettes, pipe-cleaners,

polystyrene shapes, paper, tissues, feathers, felt etc. for the children to

plan a design for, and create, a swan.

• Experiment with a variety of utensils and paint to find an appropriate

method to print feathers on the body of a duck or swan. Use in conjunction

with the window scene mentioned in the ‘Visual arts’ section.

• Refer to the ‘Music’ section for various internet sites relating to singing,

dancing and listening.

66 Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

The ugly duckling – 3

Visual arts

• Use grey or brown paint handprints to create an ugly

duckling (with the thumb forming

the neck and the spread fingers

forming the body and feathers).

Print a head shape by using a

round cork or similar circular

shape. When dry, use coloured

markers to draw the beak, eye and

wing details.

• Use a similar technique and white paint to

make a handprint of a swan. Use extra-white paint and

a brush to extend the neck into a curve and head. Add a

beak and eyes using coloured markers when dry.

• Use this activity to demonstrate how something that

appears ugly can actually be beautiful. Ask the children

to use wax crayons to completely colour sections of

a sheet of art paper or card. Ensure that they press

heavily and leave no white gaps. When completed, ask

them to apply a thick layer of black paint over the top.

Allow to dry. Give each child a craft stick to scratch out

a drawing or pattern. The resulting artwork will be bright

and highlighted by the black sections. Discuss how the

artwork shows that we cannot always judge others by

what they look like.

• Provide inexpensive yellow rubber ducks (one for each

child) and thick paint. Paint the yellow rubber ducks

grey or brown to create an ‘ugly duckling’ and add

features such as feathers to make them cygnets.

• Have each child trace around their foot on grey or brown

coloured paper and cut it out. Glue small triangular

pieces torn from tissue paper to the body for feathers.

Trace around five or six hand shapes in similar or

contrasting colours and cut out. Glue to the back in

a fan shape for duck feathers. Attach googly eyes, a

triangular beak and feet.

• Look at pictures of duck’s nests. Discuss the

shape, materials used and how the eggs

are positioned. Use natural materials such

as grass, twigs, sticks, mud and feathers to

make a duck’s nest in a grassy area near the

classroom. Fill with playdough or clay eggs.

• Use a template to show a duckling emerging from an

egg. Refer to page 73.

• Use a template to cut out two flying swan shapes

from white felt. Refer to for ideas. Ask the

children to sew around the edges. Leave a gap to stuff

the toy with wadding or scrap material. Stuff, then sew

up the gap. Glue on a button eye and draw wings by

using a black marker. Hang the toy by using wool to

make a display of swans flying across the room.

• Practise folding skills to create a simple swan shape

from a single sheet of white A4 paper. Fold a large

square in half from one end to form a triangular body.

Cut off excess paper. Fold a small square in half to form

a triangular head. Fold the remaining rectangle in half

to form a long neck. Glue or staple the edges of each

piece and then glue or staple all three pieces together.

Add features as desired.





• Provide soft brown clay for the children to make 3-D

models of the ugly duckling and white clay to mould a

swan. Display on a mirror to simulate water. If desired,

the children could create rushes and grass from green

playdough to stand around the edges.

• Add ‘snow’ and ‘ice’ by using packing beads or torn or

crumpled white crepe paper, to a painted winter scene

from the story.

• Create simple stick or finger puppets to dramatise the

story of ‘The ugly duckling’. Ask the children to draw or

paint the characters onto cardboard, then cut them out.

Add a craft stick handle and a label.

• Using blue and green paint one crumpled paper, paint

a window pane to make it look like a pond. (Add a

small amount of dishwashing liquid to the paint to

make removing easier.) Paint or attach duck and swan

outlines to complete the scene.

R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling 67

Teacher background information

A fairytale is a story, usually written for children, that most often deals with fantastic characters such as princesses, princes,

fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, giants, witches, and other mythical creatures. Often a quest is involved and the tales usually have

a happy ending. Fairytales were originally used to teach morals or values. Some of the most popular fairytales are ‘Cinderella’,

‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘Rapunzel’ and ‘Little Red Riding Hood’.

‘The ugly duckling’ was written by Hans Christian Anderson in 1843. It differs from many fairytales in that it does not have

fantastical characters. There are several different versions available, all based on Anderson’s original. Teachers should select and

read to the children the version that they prefer before commencing this theme. A synopsis of the original fairytale is written below.

Mother Duck sat on her nest, waiting for her eggs to hatch. Soon the eggs cracked, and pretty,

yellow, fluffy ducklings hatched. However, the last, and largest, egg did not hatch with the rest. Finally,

the last baby hatched, but it was large and grey. ‘It must be a baby turkey’, Mother Duck thought. ‘I’ll

take all of my babies to the pond to swim. If the large one can not swim, I’ll know that it is a turkey.’

In the water, all the ducklings, including the ugly duckling, swam happily. ‘The ugly duckling must be

one of my babies after all’, she thought.

Mother Duck took her babies to the other farm animals to show them off. The other ducks thought

there were already too many ducks at the farm. Also, they thought that the ugly duckling was very

ugly. One duck flew at the ugly duckling and bit him on the neck. From that time, the ugly duckling

was bitten, pushed, laughed at and made fun of by the other ducks and poultry. Even worse, the

farm girl kicked him and his brothers, sisters and mother were unkind to him.

Finally, he ran away to a large pond where wild ducks lived. He stayed there until hunters came.

They killed many of the ducks and frightened others away. The ugly duckling hid in the reeds. Even

the hunting dogs thought he was so ugly that they left him alone.

The ugly duckling ran away from the pond to a little cottage. He crept inside through a small

opening at the bottom of the door. In the cottage lived a tomcat, a woman and a hen. The woman

let him stay, hoping he would lay eggs. After a few weeks, the ugly duckling had not laid any eggs.

Also, the cat and hen did not become his friends. The ugly duckling left the cottage.

He hid in some water nearby and did not go near the other animals. Autumn arrived and the

weather became cold. One night, as the sun went down, a flock of beautiful birds came out of

the reeds. The birds were swans. They had long, graceful necks and soft, white feathers. The ugly

duckling thought he had never seen anything so beautiful. They spread their wings and flew away.

The ugly duckling wanted to be as lovely as the swans.

The weather grew colder. The water froze and the ugly duckling lay helpless on a small patch of

ice. The next morning, a farmer found him and took him home to his wife. In the warm cottage, the

duckling began to feel better. When the children tried to play with him, he flapped his wings in fright.

He knocked over the milk pan and spilt milk all over the floor. The woman clapped her hands. He

flew into the butter barrel and the grain tub. The woman yelled at him, and hit him with the tongs. The

children laughed and tried to catch him. The ugly duckling flew out the door and hid among the

bushes. He lay there in the falling snow. Cold and hungry, he stayed there all through the winter.

Gradually, the weather became warmer and spring arrived. The ugly duckling flapped his strong

wings and flew into a large garden filled with flowering trees. From the bushes nearby, three beautiful

swans appeared and entered the water. They looked so lovely gliding across the water that the

ugly duckling decided to join them. He did not care if they hurt him or not. He swam towards them,

not caring what they said or did. Then a wonderful thing happened! As he looked into the water,

he saw his own reflection. No longer was he a grey, ugly duckling. He was a beautiful young swan!

He no longer cared that he had been sad or teased by other animals. He was finally happy. The

other swans swam to him and stroked his neck. When the children came to the pond, they saw the

beautiful new young swan. They threw him bread and cake crumbs. The children said he was the

most beautiful swan of them all.’

• That everyone is special and unique.

• No-one is the same as any other person.

• No-one should be mean to anyone else.

• Everyone should be accepted as they are.

Concepts to be developed

68 Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

Instructions: Count the number of shapes used altogether and the number of each type used. Colour each type of shape with a different colour. This template could be used as motivation for the children to

make pattern block shape pictures of their own.

Shape duckling

There are

shapes altogether.

How many of each shape?

R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling 69

Follow the numbers on the path











Instructions: Enlarge to A3 size if desired. The children start at 1 and follow the numbers through the pathway to complete the swan picture. Trace the dotted lines to draw the reeds and water.

70 Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

Order the eggs by size



Instructions: Enlarge to A3 size. Cut out the eggs and glue them in order from largest to smallest, or smallest to largest. Add patterns to decorate them.









R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling 71

Picture sequencing

Instructions: Use the pictures for discussion OR reproduce onto card, colour, cut out and laminate for sequencing. Multiple copies could be reproduced for use as a card game such as ‘Memory’ or ‘Concentration’.

72 Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

Hatching egg

Instructions: Enlarge to A3 size. Colour the pieces, then cut them out. Join all three pieces together by using a split paper fastener. Place the duckling at the back and the two halves of the eggshell at the

front. Open to reveal the duckling hatching from the egg.

The ugly


R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling 73

Ugly duckling and swan masks

74 Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

Instructions: Photocopy the masks onto card of an appropriate colour, or onto white card for painting. Colour, paint or decorate using appropriate materials. The designs could be used as inspiration for the children

to create their own masks by using collage materials. Blank masks are readily available from craft stores. Two masks of the same shape could be created and glued back to back so that one side shows the ugly

duckling and the other the swan.

Instructions: Enlarge and photocopy onto card. Colour, cut out and laminate. Look at and discuss the scenes from the story. Ask the children to sequence the scenes in the correct order. Write sentences to

accompany each scene and display on a board. NOTE: The scenes are from the version of the story written on page 68.

Story sequencing

R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling 75









Eggs in a nest – 1 (Sweet)


• 225 g milk chocolate for cooking

• 1 packet Cornflakes or Shredded Wheat cereal

• chocolate or candy mini eggs

• paper cupcake liners


• Break the milk chocolate into pieces and melt in a microwave oven or a bowl over simmering water. When completely

melted, remove from heat and stir well. Add enough cereal to make a brown ‘twiggy’ look. Spoon into paper cupcake liners

and (once cool enough) use thumb to make a well in the centre. Place two or more mini eggs in the centre and press down

gently. Leave to set.

Eggs in a nest – 2 (Savoury)


• long wholemeal pasta (such as spaghetti or fettuccine)

• chopped bacon strips

• hard-boiled eggs

• fresh parsley sprigs


• Boil pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, gently fry bacon strips until browned. Place a quantity of pasta on each child’s plate. Ask

them to use a plastic fork to arrange the pasta into a nest shape. Top with some bacon strips, parsley sprigs and two or three

hard-boiled egg slices.

Meringue swans


• white meringue nests (available from supermarkets) for the swan’s body

• white marshmallows (available from supermarkets) for the swan’s head

• white icing (for attaching head and features)

• soft orange sweets or sections of red glacé cherries (for beak)

• chocolate chips for eyes

• whipped cream (optional)

• banana slices (optional)


• Use icing to attach head, beak and eyes to the body. Fill back of swan with whipped cream and banana slices, if desired.

Duck salad


• lettuce leaves

• pear halves (fresh or canned)

• cheese slices

• sultanas


• Arrange a lettuce leaf on a paper plate. Place pear half flat side down/rounded side up

on top of the lettuce. Cut three triangular pieces from the cheese. Place one at the head

for a beak and two at the bottom for feet. Place two

sultanas at the top for eyes. (If necessary,

secure using toothpick halves, peanut

butter [staying aware of children’s

allergies] or cream cheese.)

76 Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®


Duck sandwich


• brown, wholemeal or pumpernickel bread slices

• cream cheese

• cold meat slices (such as roast beef)

• cheese

• green peas (for eyes)

• capsicum pieces/slivered almonds/parsley


• Use a large round biscuit cutter to make circles from slices of bread. Each child will need two slices for the body. Spread

the slices with cream cheese. Place a slice of cold meat on one slice and top with another circle of bread. Insert capsicum,

almonds or parsley between the slices for feathers. Use a small round biscuit cutter to make a head from another slice of

bread. Spread one side with cream cheese and place (spread side down) on larger slices. Use extra cream cheese to add

features—green pea eyes and a small triangle of cheese for the beak.

Another suggestion:

• Use white bread and chicken slices to create a swan in a similar fashion.


• small resealable bag (one for each child)

• bowls containing a variety of finger foods

(popped corn, sultanas or raisins, chopped

dried apricots, chocolate chips etc.)

Swan sculpture

Duck food


• red or green apples cut into semicircular slices

• cream cheese/peanut butter*

• small, round paper plate covered with a blue serviette


• Ask the children to arrange the apple slices on the ‘water’ to form a swan

shape, joining the pieces together with cream cheese or peanut butter.

Note: Be aware of any children who may have allergies to peanuts.


• Give each child a resealable bag. Ask them to add some of each type of

preferred food from the bowls to the bag and seal. Children enjoy it as

a snack to feed the ‘ducks’ (themselves). Note: Ensure that children do

not use the food to feed actual ducks as ingredients may be harmful.

Duck/Swan biscuits


• 200 g self-raising flour

• 100 g caster sugar

• 100 g butter or margarine

• 1 egg, beaten

• grated rind and juice of half a lemon

• sultanas (for eyes)


• Mix together flour and sugar. Mix in butter or margarine with fingertips. Add

lemon rind and juice, and enough beaten egg to make a stiff dough. Roll out

thinly, and cut into duck or swan shapes using a biscuit cutter. Add a sultana

eye to each. (If desired, this step can be omitted, with separate eyes added

using chocolate chips or Smarties and icing or extra melted chocolate when

cool.) Place on a greased baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes at 180 °C, then

remove to cool.

R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling 77

Display ideas

Scene(s) from the story

• Cover a bulletin board with lengths of blue material or paper. Staple or pin a darker shade to the bottom as the water and a

lighter shade across the top as the sky. Roll and tape tubes of brown paper for reeds and attach in groups to the sides, top

and at intervals around the water. Ask the children to make individual ugly ducklings and swans from paper plates and attach

to the display. (Some ideas for paper plate ducks and swans are shown.)

Stained glass drawing

• Look at and discuss pictures of mother swans and cygnets.

Ask the children to draw a picture of a mother swan and

cygnet on black paper by using white glue. Allow to dry

overnight. Use coloured chalks or chalk pastels to fill the

sections between the glue lines. Spray with hairspray or

artist’s fixative to prevent smudging.

Pond window display

• Using crumpled paper and paint, decorate a large window

pane to create a pond scene. Draw water plants, and

duck and swan outlines to complete the scene. (Add a

small amount of dish washing liquid to the paint to make

removal easier.) If a number of smaller windows are

available for use, paint scenes from the story in sequence.

Ask the children to suggest the main scenes to be drawn.

Duck/Swan printing

• Use a duck- and swan-shaped biscuit cutter to cut duck

and swam ‘stamps’ from thick slices of raw potato. Use

with white and yellow paint to print patterns on dark or

contrasting coloured paper. If desired, print an all-over

pattern of swans and a single duck or vice versa for greater


Life cycle of a duck or swan

• Have the children construct an egg, a duckling or cygnet

and an adult duck or swan by using cardboard or paper or

by moulding with different coloured playdough. Place each

in the correct position on a large paper plate or circular

sheet of cardboard and draw an arrow between each. The

children may wish to write or glue labels (egg, duckling/

cygnet, duck/swan). If desired, the children can construct

individual paper craft units of each part of the life cycle

(egg, duckling/cygnet, duck/swan) for display on a large

bulletin board and arranged in a circular format with larger

labels and arrows.

Beginning and ending

• Have the children paint one scene from the beginning of

the book (Mother Duck with the ugly duckling and other

ducklings) and one scene from the end of the story (the

young swan with the adult swans). Join together or display

side by side. Label the first with the words ‘Once upon a

time …’ and the second with ‘And they lived happily ever


78 Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

Literature resources – 1


• The ugly duckling (Flip-up fairytales) by Masumi Furukawa

• Fairytale news by Colin and Jackie Hawkins

• The ugly pumpkin by Dave Horowitz

• The ugly vegetables by Grace Lin

• Sleeping ugly by Jane Yolen

Ugly colours (Uglydolls) by David Horvath

• Lifecycle of a swan by Monica Hughes

Duckling (Watch me grow) by DK Publishing

• The tale of Sir Dragon: Dealing with bullies for kids (and dragons) by Jean E Pendziwol

• Tyrone, the horrible by Hans Wilhelm (A dinosaur book about bullying)

Songs, action rhymes, fingerplays and poems

Six little ducks

Six little ducks that I once knew:

Fat ones, skinny ones,

Fair ones, too.

But the one little duck

With the feather on his back,

He led the others

With a quack, quack, quack!

Quack, quack, quack,

Quack, quack, quack!

He led the others

With a quack, quack, quack!

Down to the river

They would go:

Wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble,

To and fro.

But the one little duck

With the feather on his back,

He led the others

With a quack, quack, quack!

Quack, quack, quack,

Quack, quack, quack!

He led the others

With a quack, quack, quack!

Back from the river

They would come:

Wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble,

Ho-hum, hum.

But the one little duck

With the feather on his back,

He led the others

With a quack, quack, quack!

Quack, quack, quack,

Quack, quack, quack!

He led the others

With a quack, quack, quack!

Into the water they would dive,

Over and under the other five.

But the one little duck

With the feather on his back,

He led the others

With a quack, quack, quack!

Quack, quack, quack,

Quack, quack, quack!

He led the others

With a quack, quack, quack!

Home from the river they would come:

Wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble,

Ho-hum hum.

But the one little duck

With the feather on his back,

He led the others

With a quack, quack, quack!

Quack, quack, quack,

Quack, quack, quack!

He led the others

With a quack, quack, quack!

R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling 79

Literature resources – 2

Songs, action rhymes, fingerplays and poems

Five little ducks

Five little ducks (Hold up five fingers.)

Went out one day,

Over the hill and far away. (Move hand over shoulder.)

Mother Duck said,

‘Quack, quack, quack, quack!’ (Make a quacking motion with

fingers of other hand.)

But only four little ducks came back. (Show four fingers.)

Four little ducks

Went out one day,

Over the hill and far away.

Mother Duck said,

‘Quack, quack, quack, quack!’

But only three little ducks came back.

Three little ducks

Went out one day

Over the hill and far away.

Mother Duck said,

‘Quack, quack, quack, quack!’

But only two little ducks came back.

Duckling hokey pokey

(Tune: ‘Hokey pokey’)

You put your right wing in, you take your right wing out,

You put your right wing in and you shake it all about.

You do the ‘Duckling pokey’ and you flap your wings and shout,

‘That’s what it’s all about’.

(Continue with left wing, right leg, left leg, head and whole self.)

Swan swam over the sea (tongue twister)

Swan swam over the sea:

Swim, swan, swim!

Swan swam back again:

Well swum, swan!


Two little ducks

Went out one day,

Over the hill and far away.

Mother Duck said,

‘Quack, quack, quack, quack!’

But only one little duck came back.

One little duck

Went out one day,

Over the hill and far away.

Mother Duck said,

‘Quack, quack, quack, quack!’

But none of the five little ducks came back.

Sad Mother Duck

Went out one day,

Over the hill and far away.

Sad Mother Duck said,

‘Quack, quack, quack!’

And all of the five little ducks came back.

(Match fingers held up to the number of ducks

in each verse.)

80 Early years themes—Fairytales—The ugly duckling www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®

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