The Snow Queen & Frozen: Comparing Fractured Fairy Tales (2023)

Many kids are surprised to find out that Disney's Frozen is based on The Snow Queen, a fairy tale from over 150 years old. Fairy tales offer a unique opportunity to teach students about the process of making connections between different versions of a story. With the plethora of fractured fairy tales available both in book and video formats, you'll find that you've got ample resources to choose from when it comes to teaching students about this type of traditional literature. The bigger challenge might be finding a story that is new to your students.

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In this post, I'll share how you can use the popular Disney movie Frozen to introduce a fairy tale that most students haven't heard before. The story is called The Snow Queen, and it is said to be the inspiration for Elsa & Anna's story. However, as your students will soon discover, there are more than a few differences between the book and the movie.

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Fairy Tales aren't just for little kids

Since a fairy tale is a narrative short story that plays on imagination, you might think they're better suited for the primary grades. However, the reality is these stories were originally created for adults.

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The earliest fairy tale was written in 170 AD by an anonymous storyteller. He told of a king and his wife who lived happily together until one day she fell ill. The king searched for a cure and found a fairy, who said that a pig's heart would save the queen. The king, who was squeamish, was horrified and refused. Consequently, the queen died. The king was furious and imprisoned the fairy, and when she got free she swore she'd get revenge.

Why do I tell you all this?

(Video) Fractured Fairy-Tales (Eight episode compilation)

Because fairy tales are a great tool to use when teaching older learners, who are better equipped to see beyond the basics and be able to more closely examine how historical context and who is telling the story play into the outcome.

However, to do so, they must first have a solid understanding of what makes a fairy tale.

Making the Connection with Fractured Fairy Tales

I'm not sure about you, but I'm pretty sure that I could recite the majority of Frozen in my sleep these days. My own kids love it and will happily listen to it on repeat.

That is when they aren't watching Frozen 2…a favorite of my oldest who happens to be named Samantha.

So when you tell them you're going to read the fairy tale that the story is based upon, get ready for the excitement to erupt. Of course, there are many different versions of The Snow Queen available so you'll want to make sure you've picked the one most appropriate for your learners.

For third and fourth graders, I really like this version.

There's also a great version of The Snow Queen that has beautiful watercolor illustrations online so don't feel you need to have a physical copy of the book to implement the lesson.

(Video) The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen - Full Audiobook | Relaxing Bedtime Stories ❄️

Older students are better equipped to handle the complex language of the original, which was written in the 1800s by Hans Christian Andersen. This version is available as part of the public domain on Project Gutenburg.

What is the structure of a fairy tale?

Before you can really dig into the similarities and differences between Frozen and The Snow Queen, you'll want to review the important elements of fairy tales.

Your students will likely recognize many of structures associated with fairy tales because they follow the pieces of other narrative texts they've read. The author begins by introducing the characters and setting. Then the story moves into the conflict, which is finally resolved as the story ends.

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However, there are some unique characteristics of fairy tales that students need to know. Here are the big ones:

  • Common opening & closing lines – Do the phrases “once upon a time” and “they lived happily ever after” ring a bell?
  • A clear distinction between good and evil characters
  • The inclusion of both magic and royalty – fairies, spells, witches, and princesses abound
  • A problem that's solution imparts a universal lesson
  • Patterns or recurring numbers

Fairy Tale Elements in The Snow Queen

One of the first things you'll want to do, if you're planning to have students compare The Snow Queen to Frozen, is to break down the fairy tale elements in the text.

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This can be done during the reading, which you can split across several days since there are a total of 7 parts. You can create an anchor chart to help your students track these throughout the book.

(Video) Seriously, Snow White Was So Forgetful! The Story of Snow White as told by The Dwarves I Storytime

After the entire book is complete, it is important for students to review the details they recorded earlier so they're ready to begin making comparisons after seeing the movie version.

When outlining the important elements, I like to use a flipbook format because it is approachable for students and only focuses on the most important pieces of information they need to know.

Keep reading to find out how to get a copy of this flipbook for free.

Finding the differences & similarities between Frozen and The Snow Queen

Once students are familiar with The Snow Queen, you can begin the process of comparing the story to Disney's version. To help you prepare for the lesson, let's break down the standards addressed, helpful graphic organizers, and explore the possible answers your students may come up with when comparing and contrasting these two stories.

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Standards addressed:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.7
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.7
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.7
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.7

A Venn diagram is a great tool for making these comparisons because it can be utilized at any level of the standard. For example, younger learners may only be examining the surface-level comparisons while middle schools examine how the techniques of the medium affect the reader/viewer.

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Here are several key differences that should be discussed with students:

(Video) "Seriously, Cinderella is So Annoying"

  • The Snow Queen's role in the story & how her powers impact others
  • The protagonists understanding, control, and motivations to use her powers
  • The cast of characters, overall – ages, genders, stature in the community, and role in keeping the plot going
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For older students, you may also address how Disney softened the story and draw conclusions about the role historical context and audience play in the determination of the plot. Andersen's story, for example, includes the morals that were common during the Golden Age of Denmark. You see the archetypical patterns of good vs. evil, the power of innocence, the separation of man from nature, and the stark contrast between summer and winter.

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Of course, you'll also want students to see the similarities between the two stories. For example, both stories center around a good main character that must be saved from the grips of a frozen heart. They also both share the theme that love can conquer all things and the dangers of isolation and fear.

Here are a few other good similarities to discuss with your students:

  • The divide caused by the snow queen's magic – although for Kai and Gerda this is a much larger physical separation.
  • The Scandinavian setting
  • The symbolism of the tears melting the cold

Grab the Lesson Materials

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Other Mentor Text Lessons

Check out these additional mentor texts lessons comprehension lessons on my site:

  • Character Traits
  • Character Development
  • Text-to-Self Connections


What is the comparison of Snow Queen and Frozen? ›

A major difference between their powers is that Elsa is still mastering and understanding her supernatural side, while the Snow Queen appears to be in complete control of her sorcery. The Snow Queen is beautiful and bewitching, and her powers are at her strongest in places that are already experiencing winter.

Is Frozen based off of The Snow Queen? ›

FROZEN is an original story, loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's “The Snow Queen.”

How are The Snow Queen and Frozen similar? ›

Love conquers all is a definite similarity between the two stories. In “The Snow Queen” when Gerda sees Kay nearly frozen to death, she weeps. Just like Elsa's tears of love in “Frozen”, Gerda's tears of love penetrate Kay's heart and thaw the lump of ice.

What is the difference between a fairy tale and a fractured fairy tale? ›

Fairy tales are children's stories about magical and imaginary beings and lands. They are usually short and simple, yet they can teach children about how stories work. In contrast, a fractured fairy tale is one that has been modified to make us laugh at a surprising twist or change in character, plot, or point of view.

What is the moral lesson of The Snow Queen? ›

“The Snow Queen” taught me a valuable lesson: Don't trust anyone unless you are desperate, least of all well-intentioned adults.

What fairytale is The Snow Queen in? ›

"The Snow Queen" (Danish: Snedronningen) is an original fairy tale by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. It was first published 21 December 1844 in New Fairy Tales. First Volume.

What fairytale is Snow White based on? ›

The original tale is in a 19th-century collection of fairy tales written in German by the Brothers Grimm, who also wrote Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Rumplestiltskin. The Brothers Grimm published their book in 1812, featuring the story of Sneewittchen (Snow White).

What ethnicity is Frozen based on? ›

Disney's animated film Frozen was inspired by Sámi culture, and for its sequel, Frozen 2, Walt Disney Animation Studios received consultation from a Sámi working group (“Verddet”) on elements within the film that are inspired by the Indigenous People's homelands.

What does the Snow Queen symbolize? ›

Disney claims The Snow Queen as inspiration for their Frozen movies. Spoiler alert: aside from a few frozen hearts melted by self-sacrificial love, the similarities cease. In fairytale form, The Snow Queen elucidates the true nature of innocence, the pitfalls of our fallenness, and the path into eternity.

Is The Snow Queen good or evil? ›

Type of Villain

The Snow Queen is the titular main antagonist of Hans Christian Anderson's 1844 Danish fairytale of the same name and its film adaptations, with the exception of Disney's 53rd full-length animated feature film Frozen, though she is portrayed as a villain in some parodies.

Is Frozen based off a fairytale? ›

Many kids are surprised to find out that Disney's Frozen is based on The Snow Queen, a fairy tale from over 150 years old. Fairy tales offer a unique opportunity to teach students about the process of making connections between different versions of a story.

Is Rapunzel and Frozen related? ›

Frozen's Elsa and Anna are Rapunzel's cousins

Considering they don't live in Arendelle, as Tangled is set in Germany, some people think they must be on the VIP invite list. There are also a few family similarities - both Rapunzel and Elsa are blonde and both have powers that look pretty but are kind of weird.

Why are there 3 in fairy tales? ›

Three is the smallest recognisable pattern, which makes it easy to remember. A plot based on “threes” also creates suspense more effectively than events occurring in twos or fours. Memorable tales were more likely to be repeated from person to person and survive in the oral tradition.

How is Shrek a fractured fairytale? ›

Fractured Fairytales

Often fairytales are fractured to place them in a more modern setting or to add humour. The movie Shrek, with many famous fairytale (and nursery-rhyme) characters interacting, is a fractured fairytale. Sometimes the story will be fractured to meet modern views.

What is the Snow Queen about short summary? ›

Kai is taken by the Snow Queen who lives in a world of ice and snow, but faithful Gerda is determined to find him and restore her friend to the boy she knows and loves. A host of characters help her along her way, including a bandit, a prince, princess and a Sami woman.

What are the themes of Snow Queen? ›

Essentially, Gerda's love frees Kay from The Snow Queen's palace. The tale involves three main themes: female strength, a unique relationship of good vs. evil, and a realistic, meaningful ending.

What figurative language is in the Snow Queen? ›

On a figurative level, the Snow Queen represents temptation; she draws Kai away from his childhood, family, and hometown, and if it were not for the love and purity of Gerda, he would have remained subject to said temptation. It is easy, then, to see just how a creative spin on this tale might go.

What is the history of the Snow Queen? ›

“The Snow Queen” is Hans Christian Andersen's longest fairy tale, as well as one of his most popular. The story, told in seven parts, is a little more like several fairy tales strung together to create one larger story. It was first published in Denmark in 1845, shortly before Christmas.

Is the White Witch based on the Snow Queen? ›

Jadis, the White Witch, in C.S. Lewis's Narnia series, is similar to Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen. Both possess the elemental ability to control snow and ice, and both lead a young boy astray from their siblings. Frozen, the 2013 animated hit, is inspired by the tale of the Snow Queen.

What is the moral of Snow White? ›

The moral of Snow White's story is “Vanity will not take you far, but kindness will”. In this short story, the queen was completely indulged in vanity, which messed with her mind. But kind-hearted Snow White found friends and met a prince that loved her and stood by her.

What is the meaning behind Snow White? ›

Colors: Skin as white as snow Lips as red as blood Hair as black as ebony. These colors provide a direct indication that Snow White is a “coming of age” story. White represents innocence (birth) Red represents life and passion. Black represents death.

What was cursed in Snow White? ›

The Poisoned Apple is a magic blood-red apple which will send its victim into the Sleeping Death when bitten. The victim of it can only be revived by love's first kiss. It is used by the Evil Queen in an attempt to do away with her stepdaughter, Snow White, in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Are Anna and Elsa half native? ›

(For an interesting video about the relationship between the Sami, Norway, and the making of Frozen 2, click here.) Anna and Elsa are not white either. They are Northuldra raised Arendellian, aka Native Raised Other. Regardless of where they end up by the end of the movie, they are and always will be Native women.

Are Elsa and Anna Russian? ›

In the Disney film adaptation, Anna is depicted as the princess of Arendelle, a fictional Scandinavian kingdom, and the younger sister of Elsa (Idina Menzel), who is the heiress to the throne and possesses the elemental ability to create and control ice and snow.

Is Elsa the evil Snow Queen? ›

Elsa was a self-proclaimed Snow Queen, but she was a villain and pure evil - much more like the Hans Christian Andersen tale." Peter Del Vecho says they changed the ending of the film because it was too similar to previous Disney stories and they were worried it wouldn't stand out.

What powers does the Snow Queen have? ›

Andersen's Snow Queen is the story's antagonist and possesses the power to freeze. She freezes Kay's heart, takes him into the depths of Lapland, and keeps him in her icy castle.

Is the Snow Queen evil in the Snow Queen? ›

As for the Snow Queen, she's neither good nor evil, she just is. Her motives for kidnapping Kay are never given, she doesn't treat him badly and she allows him to be rescued by Gerda.

Why does the Evil Queen not like Snow White? ›

The Evil Queen is Snow White's evil and vindictive stepmother who is obsessed with being "the fairest in the land". The beautiful young princess Snow White evokes the Queen's sense of envy, so the Queen designs a number of plans to kill Snow White through the use of witchcraft.

Are Gerda and Kai siblings? ›

Not recognizing him as her long-lost brother, she quickly takes interest in him. When she returns to thank him for his help, she overhears Kai's conversation with the troll Orm (Disguised as a dark ferret) and learned that he was her brother.

Who kills the Snow Queen? ›

On Sunday night's "Shattered Sight," OUAT killed The Snow Queen and it was really a preachy, cop-out sort of death. After wreaking so much havoc, being super-creepy, and running in league with Rumplestiltskin, OUAT made the Snow Queen's life the key to breaking the Spell of Shattered Sight.

What religion is Frozen based in? ›

It's also worth noting that Frozen, like Disney's recent The Princess and the Frog, is set in a diegetic world with overtly Christian — indeed Catholic — elements. (Among other things, The Princess and the Frog is perhaps the only Disney fairy tale culminating in a church wedding in a specific, real-world church, St.

Who is Olaf Frozen based on? ›

Olaf was drawn to life by animator Hyrum Osmond, who had previously worked on characters such as Rapunzel and Maximus from Tangled, and Ralph and King Candy from Wreck-It Ralph. Osmond wanted to instill a childlike persona into the lovable snowman, so he based many of Olaf's mannerisms on that of his son.

What was Frozen inspired by? ›

Frozen is a 2013 American computer-animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The 53rd Disney animated feature film, it is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's 1844 fairy tale The Snow Queen.

Does Rapunzel have 2 daughters? ›

In the past, Rapunzel had two daughters, Anastasia and Drizella, and made a deal with Mother Gothel to be locked in a tower in exchange for the safety of her family. Six years later, Rapunzel frees herself and when she returns to her family, she discovers she has gained a stepdaughter named Ella.

What is Elsa's daughters name? ›

Elysium is the first daughter of Elsa and Jack Frost, protagonists in Frozen and Rise of the Guardians. She is also a Princess of Arendelle and Junior Guardian of Winter. She is the older sister to Elise and is the first heir to the Throne of Arendelle.

Is Tarzan Anna and Elsa's brother? ›

Despite what Disney fans may believe, Tarzan is not related to "Frozen" characters Anna and Elsa.

What does The Snow Queen represent? ›

Disney claims The Snow Queen as inspiration for their Frozen movies. Spoiler alert: aside from a few frozen hearts melted by self-sacrificial love, the similarities cease. In fairytale form, The Snow Queen elucidates the true nature of innocence, the pitfalls of our fallenness, and the path into eternity.

What is the difference between Snow Queen and marble queen? ›

The snow queen has more white markings

The snow queen's leaves are almost completely blanched. The marble queen is visibly warmer and greener in hue because much less of the leaves' surface area is variegated.

What is Snow Queen about short summary? ›

It tells the story of two devoted friends, Gerda and Kay… An evil troll has made a magic mirror that distorts the appearance of everything it reflects. The magic mirror fails to reflect the good and beautiful aspects of people and things, and magnifies their bad and ugly aspects.

What is the summary of the story of the Snow Queen? ›

Kai is taken by the Snow Queen who lives in a world of ice and snow, but faithful Gerda is determined to find him and restore her friend to the boy she knows and loves. A host of characters help her along her way, including a bandit, a prince, princess and a Sami woman.

Who is the true villain in Frozen? ›

Hans Westergaard, better known as Prince Hans, is the central antagonist of Disney's Frozen franchise.

Who was the original villain in Frozen? ›

Type of Villain

Elsa, also known as the Snow Queen, was the titular main antagonist in early drafts of Disney's 2013 animated film Frozen, then known as The Snow Queen, based on the book by Hans Christian Andersen.

Is the evil queen the mother of snow White? ›

One particularly notable version is Disney's depiction, sometimes known as Queen Grimhilde. The character has also become an archetype that inspired unrelated works. The Evil Queen is Snow White's evil and vindictive stepmother who is obsessed with being "the fairest in the land".

Can Marble Queen become Snow Queen? ›

Can marble queen pothos turn into snow queen? No, because they are different plants, snow queen pothos cannot turn into marble queen pothos. However! If it's that stunning light-colored variegation you're after, you can enhance the variegation on your marble queen pothos by giving it plenty of bright indirect light.

What age is the Snow Queen for? ›

The Snow Queen | Ages 7-11 | Chapter Book | Barefoot Books.

Can you revert Marble Queen? ›

All variegated plants -- including 'Marble Queen' pothos -- have the ability to revert to their non-variegated forms. This is a natural occurrence that can happen at any time. Happily, it's nothing to worry about and easy to fix.

Who is the villain in the Snow Queen? ›

Type of Villain

Princes Ingrid of Arendelle, also known as Ingrid the Snow Queen, is a minor antagonist in the TV series Once Upon A Time, serving as the main antagonist in the first half of Season 4 and is the maternal aunt of Queen Elsa and Princess Anna. She is portrayed by Elizabeth Mitchell.


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