The Little Match Seller Lesson Plan

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Consider including the tragic tale, 'The Little Match Seller,' in your next fairy tale unit. This lesson includes group discussion activities, as well as a project to create skits imagining the story with modern-day situations and different ending.

Learning Objectives

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

  • summarize the story The Little Match Seller
  • make connections between the themes and morals of The Little Match Seller and the students' own experiences with the world around them
  • manipulate the plot to create an alternative ending to the story The Little Match Seller


2 hours


  • Match box/book (with matches removed)
  • Copies of The Little Match Seller by Hans Christian Andersen
  • Index cards

Curriculum Standards


Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.


Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).


Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.


Summarizing the Story

  • Hold up a match box or match book, and ask students to identify the object. Tell students that the particular items inside the box/book will become a matter of life and death in today's lesson.
  • Provide students with copies of The Little Match Seller. Have the class take turns reading the story out loud or divide students into pairs to partner read the story.
  • Review the lesson The Little Match Seller: Summary and Characters with the class by reading it out loud.
  • Divide the class into partners and provide each pair with an index card.
  • Using the information from the lesson and the short story, have each pair summarize the story in three sentences or less on the index card.
  • Have students share their summaries with the class.

Connecting to the Story

  • Review the lesson The Little Match Seller: Analysis, Theme, and Moral with the class by reading the lesson out loud.
  • Pause periodically throughout the lesson to have students find examples in the short story that support the information in the lesson. For example, when you are discussing the theme related to imagination, you might have students go back through the text of the story and find examples of the girl using her imagination.
  • Divide the class into small groups.
  • Have each group discuss the following topics comparing the themes and moral of the story to their own experiences. Write the guiding questions on the board, so each group can facilitate a productive conversation.
    • Afterlife
      • How do people's beliefs in an afterlife give them hope when life situations seem bleak?
      • What are your beliefs about an afterlife? How are they similar and different to the girl in the story?
      • What cultural or religious experiences might affect whether a person believes in an afterlife?
    • Imagination
      • Has there ever been a time where you have used your imagination to avoid a scary or upsetting situation? What did you imagine?
      • Why do you think people use their imagination as a coping mechanism or escape from difficult situations?
    • Social consciousness
      • How do you see the difficulties the little girl faced in the story represented in today's society? What does poverty look like today?
      • Do you believe the other people mentioned or alluded to in the story had a responsibility to help the little girl? Why or why not?
      • What does it mean to have a social consciousness? How do we show a social consciousness in today's world?
  • Depending on the time available for the lesson, consider having students complete one or both quizzes associated with the reviewed lesson:

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