This is our English Tuition for Creative Writing material, free-to-use to teach your child story telling and composition. In this English tuition material, we would read the passage to the children, and come up with a few questions below that will help eduKate students to think about the story and investigate further the complexities that can be wrung out from the story. It helps your child to see the fun in writing, to enjoy complex ideas embedded into moral stories.
Jack and the Beanstalk
Once upon a time there lived a poor widow and her son Jack. One day, Jack’s mother told him to sell their only cow. Jack went to the market and on the way he met a man who wanted to buy his cow. Jack asked, “What will you give me in return for my cow?” The man answered, “I will give you five magic beans!” Jack took the magic beans and gave the man the cow. But when he reached home, Jack’s mother was very angry. She said, “You fool! He took away your cow and gave you some beans!” She threw the beans out of the window. Jack was very sad and went to sleep without dinner.
The next day, when Jack woke up in the morning and looked out of the window, he saw that a huge beanstalk had grown from his magic beans! He climbed up the beanstalk and reached a kingdom in the sky. There lived a giant and his wife. Jack went inside the house and found the giant’s wife in the kitchen. Jack said, “Could you please give me something to eat? I am so hungry!” The kind wife gave him bread and some milk.
While he was eating, the giant came home. The giant was very big and looked very fearsome. Jack was terrified and went and hid inside. The giant cried, “Fee-fifo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive, or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!” The wife said, “There is no boy in here!” So, the giant ate his food and then went to his room. He took out his sacks of gold coins, counted them and kept them aside. Then he went to sleep. In the night, Jack crept out of his hiding place, took one sack of gold coins and climbed down the beanstalk. At home, he gave the coins to his mother. His mother was very happy and they lived well for sometime.
Jack climbed the beanstalk and went to the giant’s house again. Once again, Jack asked the giant’s wife for food, but while he was eating the giant returned. Jack leapt up in fright and went and hid under the bed. The giant cried, “Fee-fifo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive, or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!” The wife said, “There is no boy in here!” The giant ate his food and went to his room. There, he took out a hen. He shouted, “Lay!” and the hen laid a golden egg. When the giant fell asleep, Jack took the hen and climbed down the beanstalk. Jack’s mother was very happy with him.
After some days, Jack once again climbed the beanstalk and went to the giant’s castle. For the third time, Jack met the giant’s wife and asked for some food. Once again, the giant’s wife gave him bread and milk. But while Jack was eating, the giant came home. “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive, or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!” cried the giant. “Don’t be silly! There is no boy in here!” said his wife.
The giant had a magical harp that could play beautiful songs. While the giant slept, Jack took the harp and was about to leave. Suddenly, the magic harp cried, “Help master! A boy is stealing me!” The giant woke up and saw Jack with the harp. Furious, he ran after Jack. But Jack was too fast for him. He ran down the beanstalk and reached home. The giant followed him down. Jack quickly ran inside his house and fetched an axe. He began to chop the beanstalk. The giant fell and died.
Jack and his mother were now very rich and they lived happily ever after.
Appeared in 1734 as “The Story of Jack Spriggins and the Enchanted Bean”. According to researchers at the universities in Durham and Lisbon, the story originated more than 5,000 years ago, based on a widespread archaic story form which is now classified by folklorists as ATU 328 The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure.
The giant’s cry “Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman” appears in William Shakespeare’s early-17th-century King Lear in the form “Fie, foh, and fum, I smell the blood of a British man.” (Act 3, Scene 4), and something similar also appears in “Jack the Giant Killer”.
Controversy: The original story portrays a “hero” gaining the sympathy of a man’s wife, hiding in his house, robbing, and finally killing him. In Tabart’s moralised version, a fairy woman explains to Jack that the giant had robbed and killed his father justifying Jack’s actions as retribution. (Andrew Lang follows this version in the Red Fairy Book of 1890.) Jacobs gave no justification because there was none in the version he had heard as a child and maintained that children know that robbery and murder are wrong without being told in a fairy tale, but did give a subtle retributive tone to it by making reference to the giant’s previous meals of stolen oxen and young children. Many modern interpretations have followed Tabart and made the giant a villain, terrorising smaller folk and stealing from them, so that Jack becomes a legitimate protagonist.
Things to talk about to your child
- This is a mixed moral story where a child robs/steals and kills. At first, the story delivers a simplistic view but dig deeper, and we find that there is more to the story than we see.
- Why Jack would exchange the cow for the magic beans? Swindled? Naive? Investment?
- Why did Jack believe the beans was worth a cow? In olden days, the cow would be worth a lot of money and a prized possession, giving an impression that Jack and his mother did not start off poor. Before this story started, they would have been doing fairly well as farmers and fallen on hard times before they resort to selling off everything. Is there a parallel to present life?
- Where is the father?
- The beanstalk represents shortcuts in life, and taking it always leads to certain mishaps. Curiosity kills the cat as Jack climbs up the beanstalk and eventually steals the gold for himself. Creating a series of events that culminates in the death of the giant.
- Lying giantess to cover up for Jack. What does the giantess represent in our lives?
- What does the giant represent in our lives?
- What did the giant do to Jack so far for us to think he is a bad person? Nothing much really.
- How can Jack’s mother not get suspicious they suddenly have money now? Is Jack’s mother a nice person after coming to so much wealth suddenly and not oppose and reprimand Jack? Plus there is a huge beanstalk for all to see in their backyard.
- Greed makes Jack climb up the stalk again, instead of working hard and earning his own money. Then he proceeds to steal another from the giant.
- He repeats the exact same thing again, and again, with Jack learning from his past experience. This means that he is making use of the giantess’ kindness so that he can steal again! Plus Jack’s mom I happy with him. Is that the right kind of parenting?
- He finally chops the tree down killing off the giant. Desperate times? An extreme behaviour?
- The story ends with Jack and his mother living happily ever after. No repercussion from killing someone? Did the bad people get away with murder?
- His magic beans investment in the beans actually paid off.
- Prepared by eduKate Singapore
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Printable version for your kids.