Five Forty-Five Minute Class Periods
The learners will:
- define the words “fable” and “moral.”
- recognize the “moral” of a children’s story and interpret the author’s message.
- determine the moral/positive messages in Aesop’s Fables.
- compare the story line of children’s literature to real life situations.
- identify the elements of a traditional fable.
- compare a modern children’s story to a fable.
Using the fable titles and link on Handout Four: Suggested Fables, select eight fables for your students to read. Copy and paste the text from those eight fables into the story cards on Handout Five. Duplicate the story cards for students to read the eight brief fables.
Journal Entry: Write the word “moral” on the board.
- What does “the moral of the story” mean?
- Write a definition for the word.
- What are other forms of the word? (morale, morality, moralize, moralist, immoral)
- Go over students’ answers together. Write a good definition of moral on the board and instruct students to rewrite their original definition, if needed. Have students brainstorm synonyms for the word moral (upright, honest, virtuous, and honorable). Brainstorm a list of principles people should live by. (Instruct students to create a list in their journals as you record their answers on the board.) Ask them if they should include acting philanthropically. Define the term philanthropy as “the giving of one’s time, talent or treasure for the sake of another- or for the common good.” Another definition is “voluntary action for the public good.” Have the learners give you suggestions for what it means to act philanthropically. Ask students if all cultural groups live by the same morals.
- Distribute The Moral of the Story Recording Sheet (Attachment One) and ask the students to complete questions one and two. As a whole group, report out. Answers may be similar to: 1) the teaching or practical lesson contained in a story; 2) generally accepted customs of conduct and right living in a society.
- Present the story Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss. Using The Moral of the Story Recording Sheet (Attachment One), have students complete question three with the graphic of “the baby” using the following instructions:
- Use one color (red pen, blue pen, etc.) to record Horton’s morals or virtues on any features that came from Horton.
- Use a different color (red pen, blue pen, etc.) to record the bird’s principles on any features that came from the bird.
- Have students respond to question four on Attachment One by describing Horton’s opportunity costs (what he gave up in order to keep his promise) and benefits for Horton during the story.
- Instruct students to complete the remaining questions and take their recording sheets home and share them with their parents/guardians. Each should have their parent/guardian sign the bottom of the handout.
- Tell students they will be starting a unit on children’s literature. Distribute a copy of the Scoring Guide for Children’s Literature (Attachment Three) to each student and go over each of the assignments together. Be sure to clear up any questions or areas of concern before going on. Instruct students to take the Unit Guidelines home and share them with a parent. Parents are required to sign the bottom, stating they have seen and understood the unit.
- Journal Entry:
- Define the word “fable.” (a short story which teaches a lesson)
- What is the purpose of a fable? (to teach and entertain)
- Present the story Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. Distribute a copy of Little Gestures, Big Payoffs (Attachment Two). Allow students time to complete the sheet and have students share their answers. Take a few minutes to talk about the way the story is put on the paper, the story line as well as the illustrations. Ask students to talk about the message of the story and “the power” of the good deed. Ask students if this is an appropriate message for children and have them explain their opinions.
- Fable Challenge. Game Preparation: Divide students into groups of three to five. Give each group a copy of Story Cards (Attachment Five), which should now have the Aesop’s Fables of your choice pasted into the table. Instruct students to become familiar with the fables that are listed on the handout. Instruct each group to choose one fable to present. They are to come up with the “lesson” or “moral” the fable is teaching and then create an improvised scene depicting that particular lesson. (Example: In “The Grasshopper and the Ant” the lesson is to “be responsible.” Students may create a scene that depicts one student working on homework while another watches television or talks on the phone.) Explain to students that each presentation needs to include a beginning, a middle and an ending. Have them say “curtain” once the presentation is over.
Teacher’s Note: This may seem unimportant, but many students will not know when to end the presentation.
Game: Assign each group a number, starting with group one, and have them present their “role plays” to the class. Tell them no one is allowed to make any guesses while the group is performing. When the performers say “curtain,” groups may be allowed to guess which fable is being presented. The group that guesses correctly gets one point. If they are able to guess what lesson the fable is teaching and explain “why,” they earn an additional two points. If they are unable to come up with the lesson, the other groups are given a chance to answer for two points. The performing team will earn three points if a group is able to guess their fable. (Teacher’s Note: It may be easier for classroom control if you start by having group two respond first and then go to three, etc., rather than allowing random calling out by the groups.) When a group is able to correctly identify the “matching fable” ask them to tell what was done that helped them come up with their answer.
Homework: Instruct students to write the following reflection:
- Describe the process you went through to come up with a “scene” for your improvisation. Questions to consider: How did you come up with an idea for your presentation? Did one partner facilitate, or direct, the group? What steps did your group go through to come up with an idea?
- What are the similarities and differences between Horton Hatches the Egg and the fables?
Go over procedures for proper conduct at the library. Take students to the school (or local) library. Instruct students to check out two picture books, at kindergarten or first grade level, with messages or “morals.” Teacher Note: If you are unable to visit the library, bring in a large selection of picture books to be used for Lessons Two and Three. After students have visited the library, distribute a copy of Stories Worth Sharing (Attachment Six) to each student. Instruct students to read their two selections and complete the sheet according to directions. Inform them that that they will be required to share this information in the next class.
After the fable game, the students may stay in their groups and write their own fable.
Lesson Developed By:Cheryl Larkin
1. Write a definition for the word “moral” (as related to children’s literature).
2. Write a definition for the word “moral” (as related to standards of living).
3. Using the graphic of “the baby” below, record any principles Horton lived by on the features of “the baby” that came from Horton (example: trunk) and record the principles of the bird on any features that came from the bird (example: wings).
4a. What were Horton’s opportunity costs (what he gave up in order to keep his promise) for staying on the egg?
4b. How did he benefit?
5. Why was Horton willing to sacrifice his own interest in order to save the egg?
6. Did any of the characters exhibit philanthropic actions? Explain your answer.
7. Compare the events of the story to things that happen in real life situations.
8. How might the baby’s upbringing be different with Horton as the caregiver rather than Mayzie?
This is just a small sampling of the fables that are available on http://aesopfables.com/. Choose from these titles below using the search function on the Aesop's Fables site, or make your own selections from the website. Choose eight fables and paste the contents into the blank table included as Attachment Five. Duplicate the story cards for the students.
Use the hearts to identify any good deeds in the story and describe how those good deeds made a difference. Record any positive features of the characters in your story on Horton’s features and negative principles on Mayzie’s features.
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