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Reimagining Happily Ever After with The Paper Bag Princess Activities

The Paper Bag Princess flips the traditional notion of the prince saving the princess on its head. After a dragon disrupts her perfect life, Princess Elizabeth dons a paper bag and embarks on a quest to rescue Prince Ronald, only to discover her self-worth is far beyond a prince’s approval. Read on to find The Paper Bag Princess activities and comprehension questions that challenge gender roles.

A colorful cover of "the paper bag princess" book with accompanying activities for reimagining fairy tales.

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The Paper Bag Princess Summary

The Paper Bag Princess book begins with Princess Elizabeth, who has everything she could wish for, including an enormous castle, exquisite clothes, and an ideal fiancé, Prince Ronald.

Her perfect life changes when “a dragon smashed her castle, burned all her clothes with his fiery breath, and carried off Prince Ronald.”

Determined to save her prince, she sets out, wearing only a paper bag, to follow the trail of destruction the dragon leaves. Tracking the dragon to his cave, Elizabeth tricks it into losing its fire and falling asleep.

Princess Elizabeth enters the cave and rescues Prince Ronald, who doesn’t even say thank you. He tells her to return and save him when she has cleaned herself up and looks like a princess. Elizabeth happily skips into the sunset by herself.

Princess Books: Challenging Gender Stereotypes Picture Books (US Only)

The Paper Bag Princess Activities

The Paper Bag Princess activities challenge traditional fairy tale norms and promote bravery, intelligence, and self-worth discussions. 

This post focuses on literacy activities for character analysis, inferencing, and sequencing exercises. Other themes of the book include: 

  • Happy ever after is different for everyone.
  • Beauty is only skin deep, and appearances can be misleading.
  • Thinking outside the box leads to creative decision-making.
  • Gender roles and deconstructing gender stereotypes

The Paper Bag Princess Student Questions

These questions for The Paper Bag Princess book test your students’ reading comprehension and foster deeper thinking.

  1. What personality traits does Princess Elizabeth show throughout the story?
  2. How does Elizabeth’s approach to problem-solving differ from the traditional role of a fairy tale princess?
  3. Why did Robert Munsch make Elizabeth a strong, independent, clever princess?
  4. Describe the problem faced by Elizabeth and how she solved it.
  5. Why did Ronald react ungraciously towards Elizabeth after she rescued him?
  6. How does Robert Munsch make it clear Elizabeth is brave, Ronald is inconsiderate, and the dragon is gullible?
  7. Describe how Ronald could have handled his reunion with Elizabeth differently.
  8. Do you think Elizabeth is happier at the end or beginning of the story? Why?
  9. How did Elizabeth beat the dragon even though he was stronger, meaner, and fiercer than her?
  10. Does Ronald act like a prince? Does Elizabeth act like a princess?

This activity pack includes over 90 questions about The Paper Bag Princess to use before, during, and after reading the book.

Educational materials featuring discussion questions and teacher notes for "the paper bag princess.
Click on the images for The Paper Bag Princess read-aloud questions

The Paper Bag Princess Character Analysis Activities

Through The Paper Bag Princess activities, students have the opportunity to analyze Princess Elizabeth’s character, examining her courage, wit, and journey to recognizing her own worth beyond societal expectations or romantic validation.

Unpacking Personalities: The dialogue in The Paper Bag Princess demonstrates how relationships and dialogue shape a character’s personality and decisions. 
Activity: Compare and contrast the characters of Elizabeth and Prince Ronald using a Venn diagram to understand their motivations and growth. 

Challenging Norms: The role reversal presented in the book presents a twist from the expected norms, challenging students to analyse the significance of Elizabeth’s actions and their impact on the plot. 
Activity: Explore and write about how Elizabeth defies traditional princess archetypes. Compare her with princesses from other familiar stories, noting differences and similarities.

Fostering Intelligence: Elizabeth’s problem-solving skills are important, and students can discuss how a character’s intelligence and wit contribute to their depth and relatability. 
Activity: Trace Elizabeth’s decisions and discuss their effects on her character progression and the story’s outcome.

Educational worksheet titled "beyond the crown: character analysis in the paper bag princess" featuring chart for comparing character traits and a section to describe differences between two characters, offered for free.
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The Paper Bag Princess Inference Activities

These activities encourage your students to use the text and illustrations from The Paper Bag Princess book to make inferences about Elizabeth’s feelings, motivations, and the dynamics of her interactions with the dragon and Prince Ronald.

Elizabeth’s Silent Moments: Princess Elizabeth’s character arc inspires students to deduce characteristics such as resilience and ingenuity. 
Activity: Write about what Elizabeth might be thinking during key moments, practising the skill of inference without directly stating her thoughts.

Subtext Through Humour: The irony and humour woven into the story serve as a trigger for deeper inferential understanding. 
Activity: Identify moments of irony and humour and then discuss their underlying significance, deepening their understanding of subtext.

Role Reversal and Societal Expectations: Prince Ronald’s unexpected responses open a dialogue about societal norms and character dynamics. 
Activity: Discuss how different expectations might alter the narrative, encouraging your students to infer the impact of societal roles on character development.

Filling in the Narrative Gaps: Munsch’s narrative style prompts readers to use their imaginations to infer the book’s unwritten aspects. 
Activity: Create backstories or illustrate scenes not directly depicted in the book. Students could write a script for a ‘missing scene’ that they believe could fit into the story.

Educational worksheet focusing on reading comprehension skills using "the paper bag princess" story.
Click on the images to explore inference activities for The Paper Bag Princess

The Paper Bag Princess Sequencing Activities

The Paper Bag Princess activities help students understand the story’s structure, from the castle’s destruction to Elizabeth’s clever confrontation with the dragon and her realization about Prince Ronald. 

This clear sequence of events helps students understand the narrative development and the cause-and-effect relationship between actions and outcomes.

Initiating Event: The story begins with an event that sets the plot in motion, demonstrating how sequences often start with a catalyst and lay the groundwork for subsequent actions. 
Activity: Create a storyboard where students illustrate and describe the initial event and the following sequence.

Causality: Sequential events in the story often have cause and effect relationships; understanding these links is crucial for sequencing. 
Activity: Create a cause and effect chain that represents how actions in the story lead to particular outcomes.

Chronological Order: The book’s events are told in a logical and time-based chronological order. 
Activity: Use a timeline graphic organizer to arrange events in the order they occur in the book.

A classroom literary activity sheet for sequencing the plot of "the paper bag princess" story, accompanied by a golden trophy with the word "class" on it.
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