The Fisherman and his Wife



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Day 6: Optional Follow-up Activity for The Grimms’ “The Fisherman and his Wife”

  1. Students use pantomime to better understand key sections of the text (15 minutes)

  2. Students explore the question, “Why did the Fisherman keep coming back to ask the fish for more?” (30 minutes).



Text Passage under Discussion

Directions for Teachers/Guiding Questions For Students

The Fisherman asks for a cottage (page 1)

"Oh dear!" said the wife; "and it is so dreadful always to live in this evil-smelling hovel; you might as well have wished for a little cottage; go again and call him; tell him we want a little cottage, I daresay he will give it us; go, and be quick."

And when he went back, the sea was green and yellow, and not nearly so clear. So he stood and said,

"O man, O man!--if man you be,

Or flounder, flounder, in the sea--

Such a tiresome wife I've got,

For she wants what I do not."

Then the flounder came swimming up, and said, "Now then, what does she want?"

"Oh," said the man, "you know when I caught you my wife says I ought to have wished for something. She does not want to live any longer in the hovel, and would rather have a cottage.

"Go home with you," said the flounder, "she has it already."


The Fisherman asks for a castle (page 2)

"Look here, husband, the cottage is really too confined, and the yard and garden are so small; I think the flounder had better get us a larger house; I should like very much to live in a large stone castle; so go to your fish and he will send us a castle."

"O my dear wife," said the man, "the cottage is good enough; what do we want a castle for?"

"We want one," said the wife; "go along with you; the flounder can give us one."

"Now, wife," said the man, "the flounder gave us the cottage; I do not like to go to him again, he may be angry."

"Go along," said the wife, "he might just as well give us it as not; do as I say!"

The man felt very reluctant and unwilling; and he said to himself, "It is not the right thing to do;" nevertheless he went.

So when he came to the seaside, the water was purple and dark blue and grey and thick, and not green and yellow as before. And he stood and said,

"O man, O man!--if man you be,

Or flounder, flounder, in the sea--

Such a tiresome wife I've got,

For she wants what I do not."

"Now then, what does she want?" said the flounder.

"Oh," said the man, half frightened, "she wants to live in a large stone castle."

"Go home with you, she is already standing before the door," said the flounder.
The Fisherman asks for his wife to be king (page 4)

"There!" said the wife, "is not this beautiful?"

"Oh yes," said the man, "if it will only last we can live in this fine castle and be very well contented."

"We will see about that," said the wife, "in the meanwhile we will sleep upon it." With that they went to bed.

The next morning the wife was awake first, just at the break of day, and she looked out and saw from her bed the beautiful country lying all round. The man took no notice of it, so she poked him in the side with her elbow, and said,

"Husband, get up and just look out of the window. Look, just think if we could be king over all this country. Just go to your fish and tell him we should like to be king."

"Now, wife," said the man, "what should we be kings for? I don't want to be king."

"Well," said the wife, "if you don't want to be king, I will be king."

"Now, wife," said the man, "what do you want to be king for? I could not ask him such a thing."

"Why not?" said the wife, "you must go directly all the same; I must be king."

So the man went, very much put out that his wife should want to be king.

"It is not the right thing to do--not at all the right thing," thought the man. He did not at all want to go, and yet he went all the same.

And when he came to the sea the water was quite dark grey, and rushed far inland, and had an ill smell. And he stood and said,

"O man, O man!--if man you be,

Or flounder, flounder, in the sea--

Such a tiresome wife I've got,

For she wants what I do not."

"Now then, what does she want?" said the fish.

"Oh dear!" said the man, "she wants to be king."

"Go home with you, she is so already," said the fish.


The Fisherman asks for his wife to be emperor (pages 5)

"Well, wife, this is fine for you to be king! Now there is nothing more to wish for."

"O husband!" said the wife, seeming quite restless, "I am tired of this already. Go to your fish and tell him that now I am king I must be emperor."

"Now, wife," said the man, "what do you want to be emperor for?"

"Husband," said she, "go and tell the fish I want to be emperor."
"Oh dear!" said the man, "he could not do it--I cannot ask him such a thing. There is but one emperor at a time; the fish can't possibly make any one emperor--indeed he can't."

"Now, look here," said the wife, "I am king, and you are only my husband, so will you go at once? Go along! For if he was able to make me king he is able to make me emperor; and I will and must be emperor, so go along!"

So he was obliged to go; and as he went he felt very uncomfortable about it, and he thought to himself, "It is not at all the right thing to do; to want to be emperor is really going too far; the flounder will soon be beginning to get tired of this."

With that he came to the sea, and the water was quite black and thick, and the foam flew, and the wind blew, and the man was terrified. But he stood and said,

"O man, O man!--if man you be,

Or flounder, flounder, in the sea--

Such a tiresome wife I've got,

For she wants what I do not."

"What is it now?" said the fish.

"Oh dear!" said the man, "my wife wants to be emperor."

"Go home with you," said the fish, "she is emperor already."
The Fisherman asks for power over the sun and moon (pages 6)

"Husband," said she, "if I cannot get the power of making the sun and moon rise when I want them, I shall never have another quiet hour. Go to the fish and tell him so."

"O wife!" said the man, and fell on his knees to her, "the fish can really not do that for you. I grant you he could make you emperor … do be contented with that, I beg of you."

And she became wild with impatience, and screamed out,

"I can wait no longer, go at once!"

And so off he went as well as he could for fright. And a dreadful storm arose, so that he could hardly keep his feet; and the houses and trees were blown down, and the mountains trembled, and rocks fell in the sea; the sky was quite black, and it thundered and lightened; and the waves, crowned with foam, ran mountains high. So he cried out, without being able to hear his own words,

"O man, O man!--if man you be,

Or flounder, flounder, in the sea--

Such a tiresome wife I've got,

For she wants what I do not."

"Well, what now?" said the flounder.

"Oh dear!" said the man, "she wants to order about the sun and moon."

"Go home with you!" said the flounder, "you will find her in the old hovel."

And there they are sitting to this very day.




1. Students use pantomime to better understand key sections of the text.

Drama can be a valuable tool for enhancing and assessing students’ understanding of literature. Using some simple guidelines, have your students pantomime narrated text, in place, in order to build understanding and prepare for discussion.


Explain that, as a class, you will further explore the parts of the text where the Fisherman comes to the sea to ask the fish for something. Each of them will act out key parts of the text as you read them out loud. If done thoughtfully, this can help them better understand what the characters may be feeling or thinking in each part. Everyone will act at once and each person will get to be all of the characters, but they must act out the text in place, without using any words or sounds.
Read or post these guidelines for the activity:

  • Act out each part as you hear it read.

  • Stay “in place” and be careful not to touch anyone else.

  • Do not use any words or sounds.

  • Show what is happening in the story with your body and your expressions.

Have students spread out throughout the classroom, using their arms to establish an adequate “space bubble”. Briefly practice/model running and walking in place and showing emotions such as anger or fear without making any sounds.

Be clear about the fact that this is a serious exercise and that any student who becomes silly or out of control will have to sit out of the activity. Most young students will thoroughly enjoy acting and applying themselves to the task of “becoming” each character.
Read each passage from the text, pausing as needed to allow students to show you what they are hearing/thinking with their bodies. Allow students to “hang back” if they choose; most will learn quite a bit from watching others. Observe the choices students make so that you can refer to them or ask questions about them later during discussion.
2. Students discuss the question, “Why did the Fisherman keep coming back to ask the Fish for more?”

Have the children sit in a circle or at their desks for discussion. Be sure each child has his/her marked copy of the text easily available. Explain that something about this story has been puzzling you: If the sea kept getting “angrier” each time the Fisherman returned to ask for more, why did the Fisherman keep coming back?

Lead a class discussion, referring back to their experiences in acting out the text and drawing students back into the text itself.
Possible questions may include:


  • How did the Fisherman feel when he approached the sea the first time? How do you know? What in the text makes you think so?

  • I was noticing your expressions as the Fisherman’s wife told him to go back and ask to be King, what might he have been thinking at that time?

  • Show me the expression you used when you played the Fisherman approaching the sea for the last time. Why did you choose that expression? How do you think he was feeling?

  • Did his feelings change throughout the story? Why?

  • What was the Fisherman’s wife like? What in the text makes you think so?

  • Did the Fisherman think that asking for more was wrong?

  • If he did think asking for more was wrong, why did he keep returning?

  • If asking for more was wrong, why was the fisherman’s request granted each time until the last?

Encourage students to quote passages or paraphrase parts of the text during discussion. End by posting the original question on the board and giving students a few minutes to share their final answers with a partner.





Appendix A: Word Play Activity
Playing with Words
"O man, O man!--if man you be,

Or flounder, flounder, in the sea--

Such a tiresome wife I've got,

For she wants what I do not."



-from The FISHERMAN and his WIFE



  1. Use the template below to rewrite this verse as if you were the Fisherman talking to a female tuna fish. Then think of another word to describe your wife.

"O _________, O ________!--if ________ you be,

Or ________, __________, in the sea--

Such a(n) _______________wife I've got,

For she wants what I do not."




  1. Now write one of your own to share with the class!

"O _________, O ________!--if ________ you be,

Or ________, __________, in the sea--

Such a(n)_______________wife I've got,

For she wants what I do not."




  1. If you finish early, write another verse or draw a picture to go with your verse on the back of this sheet.

Playing with Words
We write differently than we speak. The language in this story is more formal than the language you might use when talking to your friends. Here is a simple trick you can use to “translate” some of the sentences so that they sound more familiar and are easier to understand.
DIRECTIONS: Read each sentence from the story out loud. Then, replace the underlined words with a contraction. Read the new sentence out loud.


Example:

Sentence from the story: “Look,” said the wife, “ is not that nice?”

New sentence: “Look,” said the wife, “ isn’t that nice?”


1. “There!” said the wife, “is not this beautiful?”

“There!” said the wife, “_______ this beautiful?”
2. So she took him by the hand and said, “Let us enter.”

So she took him by the hand and said, “______________ enter.”


Now try making the following sentences more formal by changing the contraction back into two words. Read your new sentence aloud (Have fun by trying to sound like a King or a Queen!).
3. Let’s go to the store.

___________ ___________ go to the store.


4. Isn’t that your brother?

___________ ___________that your brother?



Appendix B: Graphic Organizer
Graphic organizers help us to organize information so that it is easier to make sense of it. Follow these directions to complete this graphic organizer on “The Fisherman and his Wife”. You will need your marked copy of the text, a pencil, watercolor paints, a brush, and a cup of water.
DIRECTIONS:
1. The box at the top of each column tells what happens in the story just before the sea changes. Use the words you underlined in the text to fill in this box.
2. The box at the bottom of each column gives the words from the story that show how the sea changes. These are the parts of the text you marked with sticky notes.
3. In the middle box of each column, use your watercolor paints to show how the sea changed. Your painting should match the word picture below it. You may want to underline the important words in the description of the sea before you paint.

When you have finished, look at the set of notes you have created. What patterns do you see?

Be prepared to discuss your thinking.

Why did the sea change?


1. When the Fisherman first came to the sea, he asked for___________________

2. The second time the Fisherman came to the sea, he asked for ____________


3. The third time the Fisherman came to the sea, he asked for ___________









“he was sitting with his rod and looking into the clear water “ page 1

“the sea was green and yellow, and not nearly so clear “ page 1

“the water was purple and dark blue and grey and thick “ page 2

4. The fourth time the Fisherman came to the sea, he asked for ________________


5. The fifth time the Fisherman came to the sea, he asked for ____________


6. The last the Fisherman came to the sea, he asked for _____________










“the water was quite dark grey, and rushed far inland, and had an ill smell.”

page 3



“the water was quite black and thick, and the foam flew, and the wind blew”

page 4


“rocks fell in the sea; the sky was quite black, and it thundered and lightened; and the waves, crowned with foam, ran mountains high “ page 5



1 Sticky notes work well as a note-taking tool for younger children. They are easily moved or added as the child receives feedback and reflects. They also expedite the physical process of making notations by eliminating decisions about which specific words should be highlighted or underlined. As students choose where to place their sticky notes, emphasize that the purpose of the notes is to help them return to parts of the text for further thought or reflection; as long as a sticky note does that, it is in “the right place”.
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