Searching for Stars

K, 1, 2

The purpose of the lesson is for students to compare and contrast two versions of the Cinderella story and identify philanthropy in the actions of the characters.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods, Plus Ten-Minute Debriefing Time After One Week

The learner will:

  • compare and contrast Cinderella to Little Gold Star in a group discussion.
  • compare the magical helpers, cutural differences and philanthropic ideals both stories present.
  • demonstrate random acts of kindness.
  • locate on a map the geographic locations of the fairy tales' origins.
  • "magic" wand
  • small star stickers (optional)
  • world map or globe
  • read-aloud copies of Cinderella by Charles Perrault and Little Gold Star by Robert D. San Souci (see Bibliographical References)
  • projected copy of Handout One: House Graphic Organizer
  • drawing paper and pencils
  • crayons, glue and glitter (optional)
  • Perrault, Charles (illustrated by Loek Koopmans). Cinderella.  North-South Books Inc. New York: 1999. ISBN:  0735814864
  • San Souci, Robert D.  Little Gold Star: A Spanish American Cinderella Tale. HarperCollins, 2000.  ISBN: 0688147801


  1. Teacher Note: One of the themes of this unit is comparing stories from different cultures. Although the "holy family" is in Little Gold Star: A Spanish American Cinderella Tale, the lesson is not teaching a religious perspective. However, you should be sure that this book meets your district policy before reading it to your students. There are many different versions of the Cinderella story. See the Bibliographical References in Lesson Three or check for an alternative version if this one is not appropriate for your school.

    Anticipatory Set:

    With a dramatic flourish, show the students a "magic" wand. Ask students "Who are you reminded of when you see this wand?" Once you get the response of fairy godmother or magical helper, ask "What is the role ofa fairy godmother or magical helper in a fairy tale?" Ask the students who has that role in real life (without magic).Guidestudents to recall that a philanthropist gives time, talent, or treasure, or takes action for the common good. Ask them to imagine the Cinderella story was true and the magical helper was not really magic. What are some ways that someone could help Cinderella without using magic? Discuss some acts of philanthropy they have observed or participated in.

  2. Tell the students that you are going to read another Cinderella story. This one is a Spanish American tale. Using a world map or globe, show the students the countries of origin for both fairy tales (France and Spain).

  3. Remind the students that the first Cinderella story was told aloud hundreds of years ago. As the story was retold in different countries,story tellers changed the setting and characters to fit their cultures. Tell them to listen for story elements that are the same and different from the Cinderella story you read before. Read aloud Little Gold Star: A Spanish American Cinderella Tale.

  4. After reading, talk about how the magical helper in this story was the same and different from other Cinderella stories. (Why and how did she help the girl? What did she look like? Did she use a magic wand? Was she a philanthropist?)

  5. Talk about the cultural differences between the two versions. Talk about the different settings, colors, and tones in the illustrations.

  6. Using the overhead projector, teacher will write on Handout One: Graphic Organizer as the students verbally compare and contrast elements of Little Gold Star and Cinderella.

    1. Have students name ways that Cinderella and Little Gold Star are alike. Write students' ideas in the first box.
    2. Have students name elements from Perrault's Cinderella story that are different from Little Gold Star. Write their ideas in the left box.
    3. Have students name elements from San Souci's Little Gold Star that are different from Cinderella. Write their ideas in the right box.
    4. Ask the students to think about the common theme in the two books. Ask them to support their idea with details from the lists they made. With their help, write a paragraph comparing the themes with supporting details.


    Day Two

  7. Hold up the two books Little Gold Star and Cinderella. Tell the students to reflect for a moment on the philanthropic ideals in the two books. In other words, what do the two stories say about helping, giving, caring and sharing? This is a quiet thinking time. Hold up one book and ask them to think about the philanthropy ideals. Hold up the other book and give them a few minutes to think about it. Allow the students to share their ideas with the whole class while you write some of their ideas on the board. It may be helpful for students to describe the characters.

  8. Give each student a piece of white drawing paper. Tell them to draw an outline of either Cinderella or Teresa (or you may choose to have themdraw the magic helpers). Have them label the physical parts of the character using descriptions of her character. For example, Teresa has a "loving heart" and "helpful hands." Younger children may use "sound spelling" or dictate their words to an adult. Optional: students may add some color and glitter to their drawings (as long as it doesn't interfere with the labels).

  9. Discuss with students the definitions of random, acts, and kindness. After the individual meanings have been discussed, ask the students to predict the meaning of "random acts of kindness." (It may be necessary to explain this phrase and give examples for student understanding.)

  10. Teacher Note: It is important that you don't make a list of specific acts, because the students will be given an opportunity to perform random acts of kindness. You don't want everyone doing the same things or only what is listed.

  11. Tell the students that they are going to practice a simple form of philanthropy over the next week: random acts of kindness. The recipients of the kind acts should be classmates, but of course they may also extend the kind acts to family and other children/adults at school. Encourage the students to be creative with their random acts of kindness. Tell them that they will not need permission to perform most random acts of kindness. Role play a couple examples. Show the students the importance of respecting each other's boundaries (ask if someone wants help rather than just doing). Optional tie-in to book: As students perform acts of kindness for their peers, they carefully place a star sticker on the forehead of the receiver of the act. Students may only receive one star until everyone has at least one (this ensures that everyone benefits from the experience).

  12. After a week of "random acts of kindness," talk with the students about how it feels to be a giver and a receiver of kind acts. Relate this to the "Cinderella Project" in which they are collecting shoes for children who cannot afford them.


The teacher will assess by listening to the responses given during the group discussions. Labeled drawings will demonstrate students' comprehension of the characters' philanthropic traits. Labels can also be used for assessing students' phonics skills, spelling, handwriting, and vocabulary.

Cross Curriculum 

Continue the service project from Lesson One, which includes collecting shoes or money to purchase shoes. Continue to graph the number of shoes collected on the class graph and individual graphs. In a reflection, ask students, "How do you feel about the number of shoes collected sofar? Do you think that this will help children in need?"

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify the similarities in philanthropic behavior among people of different cultural backgrounds.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.7 Give classroom examples of when a student does not need the teacher's permission to act philanthropically.
      2. Benchmark E.9 Give examples how people give time, talent or treasure in different cultures.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
    2. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.