What happens to you when you read?
What happens to you when you read?

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1.1 The order of a story

Now that you know which are the generally accepted elements from ‘Hansel and Gretel’, have a go at the activity below by dragging and dropping the elements from the story into the order you think they take place in the story.

Activity 2 Remembering the order of a story

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes for this activity.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. Hansel and Gretel are led deep into the woods by their parents who take the children into the thickest part of the forest, and leave them.

  2. Hansel laid a trail of white pebbles to help him find his way back home.

  3. The children found the witch’s cottage by following a beautiful white bird.

  4. When the witch first hears Hansel and Gretel nibbling at her house they trick her into thinking they are just the sound of the wind.

  5. Hansel fooled the witch into thinking he was too thin to eat by pretending a bone he found in his cage was his own finger.

  6. The children were returned home by a swan, that ferried them across an expanse of water.

  • a.3

  • b.1

  • c.4

  • d.6

  • e.5

  • f.2

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = b
  • 2 = f
  • 3 = a
  • 4 = c
  • 5 = e
  • 6 = d

Answer

Here are the elements in the right order.

  1. Hansel and Gretel are led deep into the woods by their parents who take the children into the thickest part of the forest, and leave them.
  2. Hansel laid a trail of white pebbles to help him find his way back home.
  3. The children found the witch’s cottage by following a beautiful white bird.
  4. When the witch first hears Hansel and Gretel nibbling at her house they trick her into thinking they are just the sound of the wind.
  5. Hansel fooled the witch into thinking he was too thin to eat by pretending a bone he found in his cage was his own finger.
  6. The children were returned home by a swan, that ferried them across an expanse of water.

You probably found this activity a lot easier to complete than the previous one. This is because humans are very used to story-like structures. These structures are argued by some psychologists to be fundamental to how we remember, think and communicate with others. The influential psychologist Frederic Bartlett (1932) suggested that our memories could be organised through story-like structures. Known as ‘schemata’, these mental structures provide a framework for organising our memories and include ‘scripts’ which include information about the order of events. You are likely to have encountered (heard or read) many stories, including fairy tales, from the earliest times you remember in your life, so will have a memory ‘script’ that tells you what order the events are likely to happen in.

This image is of an oil/canvas painting by Henri Matisse, titled The Silence that Lives in Houses, 1947. The image shows two faceless figures reading a book at a table with a plant, with a window behind them that has some trees in the background.
‘The silence that Lives in Houses’ by Henri Matisse, 1947 © Succession H.Matisse/DACS2021

You have learned that stories are central to our experience as humans and most of us can easily relate to them. You have also learned that while, in today’s world, we tend to think about stories as things that we can read, listen to and watch, throughout history there has also been a strong tradition of oral storytelling. According to anthropological evidence, stories were used by our ancestral hominids (Donald, 1991), and formed part of cultures and geographies to such an extent that they are considered a universal form of discourse (Rubin, 1995).

In the next section you will start to think about how different types of reading might have different effects upon the reader.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371