Exploring Satire with Shrek

Because students are typically familiar with the characteristics of fairy tales, the movie Shrek, which satirizes fairy tale traditions, serves as an introduction to satirical techniques. Students begin by viewing a scene from the movie and examining the ways in which it departs from typical fairy tales. They are then introduced to the four techniques of satire: exaggeration, incongruity, reversal, and parody, and identify these techniques in the clip from Shrek. Students next select a fairy tale to satirize and share their finished stories with the class or small groups. This lesson is a fun way to teach satire and writing for different purposes. The lesson includes active viewing, a narrative writing assignment, and an assessment rubric to score the writing assignment.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3002.3.1
Write in a variety of modes for different audiences and purposes.
CLE 3002.7.1
Evaluate the aural, visual, and written images and other special effects used in television, radio, film, and the Internet for their ability to inform, persuade,...
CLE 3002.8.5
Know and use appropriate literary terms to derive meaning from various literary genres.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Students will:

  • brainstorm genre characteristics based on prior knowledge. 
  • use visual literacy skills to analyze, interpret, and explain non-print media. 
  • identify the techniques of satire in a satirical work. 
  • analyze a satirical work to determine the comment or criticism being made about the subject it is ridiculing. 
  • use the elements of satire in narrative writing.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 
  • View Additional Satirical Video Clips from Shrek and Shrek 2 and continue your exploration of the ways that these movies satirize fairy tales.
  • Use the interactive Fractured Fairy Tales to review how the genre works and practice fracturing three well-known fairy tales. Also, this booklist outlines picture books and fiction that "fracture" traditional fairy tales structures to explore different perspectives and comment on "fairy tale" worlds. The books can provide useful supplements as examples during class sessions or give students who are particularly interested in the genre of fairy tales additional resources to explore.
  • Share clips from a film version of the Robin Hood tale to encourage sharper analysis of the scene from Shrek. The 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn, is widely available and is rated PG. The Disney Robin Hood (1973) would also make for interesting comparisons.
  • Share Robin Hood and the Lady by Walter Crane, an illustration from the 1912 book Robin Hood and the Men of the Greenwood by Henry Gilbert. Ask students to compare Crane's depiction of the hero and heroine to the depictions in Shrek. Ask students to consider the extent to which Shrek relies on the visual appearance of the hero and heroine for the satire and the extent to which the satire is based on the actions that are depicted and the situations that take place.
  • Follow this lesson with the Exploring Satire with The Simpsons lesson plan which invites more in-depth analysis of satirical techniques in popular culture.

Helpful Hints


  • DVD or VHS copy of Shrek
  • Fairy tales for students to satirize (see Website section for suggestions)
  • Television, and DVD Player or VCR