Study Guide


Walter Crane's illustration of "Rumpelstilzchen" from Household Stories from the Collection of the Brothers Grimm, 1886


The Story of Rumpelstiltskin seems to lend itself perfectly for a cross-curriculum study guide. Many of the ideas for the following lessons came from my friends on the Storytell Listserve, the participants at the Sharing the Fire Conference, the Internet, and some of my own creations. Whenever possible I try to acknowledge where the ideas sprang forth. If you would like to submit an idea, please contact Marilyn Kinsella and I will see if it fits in to this page. The ideas below are only meant to be used sparingly. Kids are savvy  to "using" a story to get into a lesson.

Fellow tellers, feel free to copy and use some or all of  these suggestions for your own study guide. If you contact me, I will e-mail you, as an attachment, the study guide I give to teachers. You may copy the study guide onto your Word Document. Change, add, and delete to make it yours and then save it. Now, for your next study guide you can use the same file - change, add, delete...and rename the file. Then, "save as." You will save not only the first study guide but the second as well. That way you already have the basic set-up for this type of study guide in Word. You will not need to set it up yourself. If you prefer to set it up yourself, the directions for this type of study guide is at Study Guides - forms toward the bottom of the page.

Summary of Rumpelstiltskin:

A young woman wants to marry the King, but is told that first she must spin straw into gold or die. A funny trickster (Rumpelstiltskin) agrees to do it, only if she promises her first born child. He does, and she marries the King. When she gives birth to a child, R comes back and demands the child for payment. Since he loves to play games, he says that the Queen may keep the child, if she can guess his name in three days. He comes back three times to ask her what his name is. In the meantime the King inadvertently discovers the man in the woods who is saying his name. The Kings rushes home to tell the Queen. When R returns the third time, she says his name and he disappears forever.

Comprehension Questions:

These really depend on which version the teller relates. I have based these on my version that can be found at Rumpelstiltskin.

Specific questions

bullet Where did this story take place? Is this a story from present day? Why not?
bullet Name the characters in the story? Who are the two main characters?
bullet What happened first in the story? Second? Next....
bullet Where did the king's mother lock Esmerelda?
bullet What is a spinning wheel?
bullet Can straw turn into gold?
bullet Describe the baby.
bullet What did Esmerelda have to do in order to keep her baby?
bullet Where did Esmerelda go to find more names for babies?
bullet How did Esmerelda find out the little old man' name?

Discussion questions with no right or wrong answers:

bullet Why did Esmerelda tell R that he could have her first born child? Was that a good or bad idea?
bullet What did R want with a baby?
bullet Where did R live? Who was he? Is he a good or bad person?
bullet What does the word Rumpelstiltskin mean? Can you give Rumpelstiltskin a new name?
bullet What are some magic things in this story? What are some real things?
bullet If this story happened today, how would the story change?
bullet Why did R disappear forever when Esmerelda said his name?

Versions of Rumpelstiltskin on line:

Rumpelstiltskin   My version with lots of participation for young audiences   A list of many versions from other countries followed by the stories themselves  A readers' theatre version  A fractured version suitable for small play or readers' theatre.



                              folktale                            castle                                  tower

                              Grimm                             spun gold                          straw

                               trickster                        spinning wheel                  riddles


Lesson Plans:      A cross-curriculum guide for lessons from Rumpelstiltskin

bullet Language
bullet Art
bullet Social Studies


                                                             Interesting Tidbits on ole Rumpie...

The Name of the Helper, by D. L. Ashliman, also gives background on tale type 500, "in which a mysterious and threatening helper is defeated when the hero or heroine discovers his name."  The texts of several editions from Grimm are reprinted, and variants from a number of countries, including "Tom Tit Tot" and "Duffy and the Devil" from England.

Names for Rumpelstiltskin:

bullet Rumpelstiltskin or Rumpelstilzchen Doubleturk Mistress Beautiful Dwarf Holzrührlein; Bonneführlein; Nägendümer Kugerl Hoppetînken ; Zirkzirk   (Germany
bullet Purzinigele (Austria). Tarandandō (Italy). Winterkölbl (Hungary). Kruzimugeli (Austria).
bullet The Girl Who Could Spin Gold from Clay and Long Straw (Sweden).
bullet Tom Tit Tot; Duffy and the Devil (England).
bullet Whuppity Stoorie (Scotland). Peerie Fool [Peerifool] (Orkney Islands).
bullet Gwarwyn-a-throt; Penelop Silly go Dwt (Wales).
bullet The Rival Kempers (Ireland).
bullet Kinkach Martinko (A Slav Folktale)
bullet Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian - US)

The name is believed to derive from an old children's game called Rumpele stilt oder der Poppart, which was mentioned in Johann Fischart's Geschichtklitterung, or Gargantua of 1577, a loose adaptation of Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel.   Information on naming and it's magical connotations  Rumplelstiltskin poses a riddle to finding his name. Riddling is often used in stories. Find out more about Riddles.  Interesting information on the spinning wheel Link to a page for book from the Learning With Literature Series that center on ideas using "color."

                                                                                     References for Books:

bullet "Rumpelstiltzkin" from Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book, reprinted online at Rick Walton, Children's Author:  Classic Tales and Fables
bullet Moser, Barry. Tucker Pfeffercorn:  An Old Story Retold.  Boston:  Little, Brown, 1994.  A brilliant adaptation of "Rumpelstiltskin" set in a coal town.
bullet Rumpelstiltskin, retold and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. New York: Dutton, 1986. An award-winning picture book based on the Grimm Brothers' 1819 edition, with detailed oil paintings in the style of the Italian Renaissance.
bullet Zemach, Harve. Duffy and the Devil: A Cornish Tale. Illus. Margo Zemach. Farrar, 1973. A comical variant of the tale from Cornwall, with humorous illustrations in muted tones, awarded the 1974 Caldecott medal.
bullet Hamilton, Virginia. The Girl Who Spun Gold. Illus. Leo and Diane Dillon. New York: Blue Sky/Scholastic, 2000. An adaptation of a West Indian tale, "Mr. Titman.," using colloquial language that, according to Hamilton, reflects "a lilting West Indian speech pattern, then and now." The artists used "acrylic paint on acetate, over-painted with gold paint. The gold borders were created using gold leaf."
bullet Tom Tit Tot by Evaline Ness An English variant
bullet Stanley, Diane, Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter
bullet Maguire, Gregory. "Rumplesnakeskin." Leaping Beauty: And Other Animal Fairy Tales. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.
bullet Tashjian, Virginia. The Talking Fish in Once There Was and Was Not: Armenian Tales. Little, Brown, 1966 (398.2 TASH)
bullet Ferradiddledumday (A Blue Ridge version of "Rumpelstiltskin") by Becky Mushko Originally published in Blue Ridge Traditions, 1998. A website on this version is on
bullet Uchida, Yoshiko. The Ogre Who Built a Bridge in The Sea of Gold and Other Tales from Japan. Scribner, 1988 (398.2 UCHI) A carpenter seeks help from the Red Ogre to build a strong bridge for his village. The carpenter has to guess the Ogre's name after the deal in order to keep his eyeball.
bullet Judy Sierra's book, Can You Guess My Name: Traditional Tales From Around the World. Three stories that are like Rumpelstiltskin. From Sweden, Titeliture, from Nigeria (Yoruba) How Ijapa the Tortoise Tricked the Hippopotamus and from Japan, there's Oniroku
bullet Angela Carter in her Virago Book of Fairytales a Scandinavian variant: Three Ugly Aunts.
bullet Use visually oriented and auditorily based media including computer equipment rentals
bullet  Information about the popular video series "Faerie Tale Theatre"
bullet  Information on the Rabbit Ears Production of the video.
bullet  A yes, even a video game!
bullet  Interesting information on the spinning wheel