Programs · storytelling

Fairy Good Tales: The Ugly Duckling

The mother duck waited and waited until finally the egg cracked and out popped a much larger chick with a black beak and gray feathers. The mother duck looked at the new duckling and thought: He is my child but he doesn’t look like any of the others.

No one wanted to play with the poor ugly duckling. He was large and clumsy and so different from his brothers and sisters. They pushed him, pecked him, and chased him around the farmyard. Even the duckling’s brothers and sisters were unkind to him. This went on day in and day out until the dispirited duckling felt he had no choice but to fly away.

The tale of the Ugly Duckling is a classic tale of bullying based on appearance, of a poor duckling excluded from his family and laughed at by his neighbors. There is an infinite number of anti-bullying lesson plans and activities out there. Because I don’t have as much time with the children as a teacher might, I chose a select few–but very powerful. This storytime is an all ages, drop-in Saturday storytime and I had ages between 2 & 7. The ladies over at Jbrary reminded me that exclusion can be a hard topic to discuss with such a younger age set, but with the right tools, and the right tale, it can be done!


  1. Introduction
    1. Why are nursery rhymes and fairy tales important?
  2. Abra Cadabra, Abra Kazoom, Let Story Time magic enter the room (pull out paper with fairytale)
  3. The Ugly Duckling
    1. Beginning questions: What makes you different from your sister or brother? What makes you different from your friends?
  4. Storytell the original (2 minutes)
    1. Define bully. Why was the duckling bullied? Who did the ugly duckling find in the end?
  5. Tale with book: The Ugly Duckling by Rachel Isadora: I love this version. Rachel Isadora always has the most beautiful and rich artwork and the tale closely follows the original.
    1. Add trumpeter swan call as the swans are flying overhead
  1. Song with clappers: Five Little Ducks (waddle and clap)
  2. Book: It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr
  3. Egg Experiment: We are the same on the inside
  1. Activities
    1. Paper plate swan
    2. Being a friend – double handprints: This was a super cute idea but I had a lot of shy kids that didn’t want to become immediate friends with someone they never met. Obviously, it would work better in a classroom setting, but I allowed parent and child and siblings to create one together.


  • White & brown egg, bowl
  • Paper plates
  • White feathers
  • Orange construction paper
  • Multi-colored construction paper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Markers
  • Scissors

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s