"The Princess and the Pea" is a fairy tale involving a young prince's parents forcing his potential wives to sleep on a pile of mattresses until one of them feels a small pea under the bottom mattress. There are many activities you can use you in your preschool class to help your students understand the story and its message. Vary these activities depending on the skills of your students.
Act it Out
Read the story to your students and discuss the themes. Pick roles for your students, including the prince, the princesses who come to his home and his parents. Make sure each student has a role in the play, no matter how small. Write a very short version of the fairy tale and teach your students the lines. Practice the play until you think they are ready to perform it. Let the students dress up in costumes and perform it for their parents and other preschool classes.
Talk About It
Read the tale to your students a few times to help them get a stronger grasp on the story and its significance. Discuss the characters and how the story made the children feel. For example, you could ask them how hard they think it would be to feel a pea through so many mattresses. Ask them if they would like to be the prince or the princess. Try to get them to explain their reasoning but don't push them hard if they don't understand.
Print out a picture of the princess and the pea and one to each of your students. Include images such as the pea under the mattresses, the princess climbing the ladder next to the mattresses, crowns and other similar appropriate images and include small objects for the students to find. You can find such pictures at the Printables 4 Kids website or make your own using design software such as Photoshop. Give the kids some time to find all of the images; help them out if they get stuck to make sure they find them all.
Have the students make small green clay peas. Harden them by letting them dry or baking them yourself in a clay oven. Place the peas on a piece of paper towel under a sleeping mat and have your students lie on top. Ask them if they can feel the peas underneath. Stack sleeping mats on top and repeat the process. Point out how hard it must have been for the princess to feel the pea as there was only one and the mattresses were much thicker.
Have your students draw or paint pictures from the story. Give them access to non-toxic crayons and water paints. Display their pictures in the classroom to show off their work.