PrintFive 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.
  • A read-aloud copy of Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Suess
  • Student copies of the handouts (Handout four is used by the teacher to create handout five.)
  • A selection of pictures books if a trip to the library is not possible
  • Field trip permission slips if students are traveling to the local library
  • A read-aloud copy of Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
Teacher Preparation 

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.

Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Students will take the Scoring Guide for Children’s Literature (Handout Three) home and share it with an adult. It contains all the requirements for this unit.

  • Geisel, Theodor Seuss. Horton Hatches the Egg, by Dr. Seuss {pseud.}. Random House: New York, 1968.
  • Aesop’s Fables Website http://aesopfables.com/ 
  • Spinelli, Eileen. Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch. New York: First Aladdin Paperbacks, 1996.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Journal Entry: Write the word “moral” on the board.

    1. What does “the moral of the story” mean?
    2. Write a definition for the word.
    3. What are other forms of the word? (morale, morality, moralize, moralist, immoral)

    Day One:

  2. 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.

  3. Distribute The Moral of the Story Recording Sheet (Handout 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.

  4. Present the story Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss. Using The Moral of the Story Recording Sheet (Handout 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 Handout 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.
  5. Tell students they will be starting a unit on children’s literature. Distribute a copy of the Scoring Guide for Children’s Literature (Handout 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.

  6. Day Two:

  7. Journal Entry:

    1. Define the word “fable.” (a short story which teaches a lesson)
    2. What is the purpose of a fable? (to teach and entertain)
  8. Present the story Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. Distribute a copy of Little Gestures, Big Payoffs (Handout 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.

  9. Day Three:

  10. Fable Challenge. Game Preparation: Divide students into groups of three to five. Give each group a copy of Story Cards (Handout 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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?
  13. Day Four:

  14. 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 (Handout 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.


The Moral of the Story Recording Sheet Little Gestures, Big Payoffs worksheet The homework reflection piece Stories Worth Sharing Group presentation

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify how families contribute to the socialization of children.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss why some animals and humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Give examples of <i>opportunity cost</i> related to philanthropic giving by individuals and corporations.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how civil-society-sector giving can impact communities.