Half Upon a Time Lesson plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

'Half Upon a Time' by James Riley is a fantastically twisted play on the original fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk. This lesson plan reinforces key aspects of the book. An activity gives students a chance to re-enact their favorite parts of the story.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to do the following:

  • summarize the plot of Half Upon a Time by James Riley
  • list and describe key characters in the book
  • compare and contrast the story to the original fairy tales that serve as a basis for the plot and setting


  • This lesson plan is designed for use with students who have read Half Upon a Time by James Riley in its entirety.


60 to 90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.


Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.


  • Copies of Half Upon a Time by James Riley
  • White butcher paper
  • Markers
  • Tape
  • Scissors

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