Genre Studies Series: Part 7 {Fables}

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Toward the end of the year, all of our focus goes on Folktales.  I teach my students that folktales are just that - tales that folks passed down by word of mouth for years.  This is why you may hear the same story in different variations.  As they were passed down, they changed slightly based on who was telling them.  We focus on three types of folktales - fables, tall tales, and fairytales.

Fables are the quickest to study.  We begin with a little background knowledge on Aesop, since most of the fables we read will be Aesop's fables.  Did you know that many stories say Aesop was a slave?  He supposedly wanted to write stories that told of his mistreatment and would teach his owners to treat others better.  However, he was too smart to use their names or characters with their likeness.  Instead, he chose to use animals to teach these lessons so that the slave owners wouldn't realize he was writing about them.  Pretty smart, huh?

We begin by learning the characteristics of fables:

1) The characters are usually animals who talk and act like people.

2) The stories are short and teach the reader a lesson about how they should behave.

3) Fables have morals - sentences at the end that sum up the lesson that was taught.

Since fables are short, they area a great way to practice fluency, as well.  We use the You Read to Me, I'll Read to You {Fables Edition} a lot.

I copy the pages and highlight the parts so that I can have multiple pairs practicing reading at the same time.  They love to "perform" them for the class to show off their fluency.
While we're studying fables, I also pull out this read-aloud book.  In it, Gooney Bird's class is learning about and writing their own fables so it is a perfect tie-in!
One of my main focuses during this unit is to get my students ready to read in front of an audience.  They've had a little practice with this thanks to our Living Museum during biographies, but I want to move them a little further.  To do this, we perform Fable Puppet Shows!  They eat it up!
I can easily differentiate for various reading levels by assigning parts in puppet shows carefully.  Some characters have lots of lines while others have fewer.  A quick examination of the scripts and I'm easily able to find roles that are perfect for each student.
We spend a lot of time practicing for our puppet shows.  After all, "practice makes perfect" as we learned from one of our fables. :)  Students read their scrips to become fluent with the words.  They read them more to become expressive.  They read them even more, learning to use character voices.  Then, they have to practice reading while also controlling a puppet.  As one of my little gems said, "Puppet shows are hard work!"  Indeed! :)
I purchased fable puppets, but if you don't have access to any, you could certainly let your students create their own!  How fun would they have creating sock puppets or paper sack puppets of their own!?

I purchased all of the puppets and puppet show scripts (this is just a small showing...I probably have 30 puppets - this would make a great Donor's Choose grant) from The Creativity Institute.  They have both Aesop's fables and some original "Gwynn's fables."  
Our celebration at the end of this genre is performing the puppet shows for the class.  This will be excellent practice for reading in front of an audience since students are "behind" the stage.  It will build their confidence for the plays we'll be presenting to larger audiences in our future genres.
After a group performs the fable, the audience (classmates) explain the lesson that the fable was teaching.  We then discuss how these lessons can help us in our own lives.  This is a tough concept at first - for example, "slow and steady wins the race" - at first students say things like, "When I am racing my friend, I should go slow and steady."  But, I ask if they enter a lot of races.  No?  Then, that's not really a good example.  We try to connect them to the classroom and our daily lives.  "Slow and steady wins the race" - students who work carefully on their math tests and go back and check over their work will do their best.  They quickly begin to make connections and recite morals throughout the day. #teacherheartmelts

1 comment

  1. Story reading is much important for the students to learn about folktales and other creative things. In that way they can practice to write stories as well. free grammar check software


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