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Lesson Plan
Build Listening Skills With Asian Folktales



  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
    --Visual Arts
  • Social Studies


  • PreK
  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

Use Asian folktales to test students listening comprehension.


Students will

  • listen as folktales from Asian cultures are read aloud.
  • correctly answer comprehension questions after about the folktales.


listening, comprehension, Asian, folktale

Materials Needed

  • five folktales printed from the Web (links provided)

Lesson Plan

Aaron Shepard, creator of the Reader's Theater concept, offers a collection of folktales on his Web site. Below you will find links to nine folktales with roots in the Asian culture. Read aloud to students five of those tales. Then ask students the comprehension questions below. See how well your students listened and respond.

Additional Activities:
-- As you read each folktale, use a map to find the location of the country of the tale's origin.
-- Discuss the vocabulary in each story in advance, if possible.
-- Folktales always seem to have a lesson. Talk about the lessons learned as you read each tale.
-- These tales by Aaron Shepard easily can be turned into scripts for students to read and perform. See the lesson, Reader's Theater: Presenting Asian Folktales, for resources and ideas for doing that.

Kings for Breakfast: A Hindu Legend

Listening Comprehension Questions

  • What did King Karna give to the poor each morning? (a hundred pounds of gold)
  • Which king was more famous -- King Karna or King Vikram? Why? (King Vikram was more famous because he was more generous.)
  • When King Vikram first met the geese, what did they want from him? (They wanted fresh pearls for breakfast.)
  • Why did King Karna imprison the geese? (He heard them singing the praises of King Vikram; he wanted to know why they called Vikram the most generous king of all.)
  • What was one thing King Vikram saw when he looked through the window of the hermit's hut? (He saw King Karna jumping into the pan and being cooked; eaten by the hermit; transformed back into the king; and given 100 gold coins from the hermit's magic coat.)
  • Complete this statement: "Bones are good, but flesh is best. Give him life, while I _____!" (digest)
  • Why did the hermit allow King Vikram to enter his hut? (The hermit did not see well; he thought King Vikram was King Karna.)
  • Why did King Vikram taste better to the hermit than King Karna tasted? (King Vikram had rubbed curry spices all over himself.)
  • How did King Vikram trick the hermit? (King Vikram told the hermit that he was unable to carry 100 pounds of gold so the hermit would hand over the magic coat.)
  • How did King Vikram get King Karna to free the gander? (King Vikram offered King Karna the magic coat in return for the gander's freedom.)

The Gifts of Wali Dad: A Tale of India and Pakistan

Listening Comprehension Questions

  • What did Wali Dad do for work? (He was a grasscutter.)
  • How was he able to save so much money? (Each day he earned 30 paisa; he saved 10 of them in a pot under his bed.)
  • What did he decide to do with the bracelet he bought with his savings? (He decided to send it to the queen as a gift.)
  • What did the queen do when the merchant presented Wali Dad's gift? (She sent him fine silks in return.)
  • Why did Wali Dad grow more frustrated as time went by? (Every time he sent a gift the person he sent the gift to returned an even more extravagant gift.)
  • Why did the prime minister suspect that Wali Dad was sending such expensive gifts to the queen? (He thought Wali Dad wanted to marry the queen.)
  • What did the peris do when they met Wali Dad? (They turned his rags of clothes into fine clothes and his hut into a palace.)
  • How did the queen of Khaistan meet the king of Nekabad? (Each had come to Wali Dad's palace to meet the man who had been sending them gifts.)
  • What happened when Wali Dad met the peris after the wedding? (They made him happy by turning him back into a grasscutter.)
  • From that day on, what did Wali Dad take care not to do? (He did not send any more gifts to the king or queen.)

Too-too-moo and the Giant: A Tale of Indonesia

Listening Comprehension Questions

  • Where did Too-too-moo and Mama live? (They lived in a one-room house in a forest on the island of Java.)
  • Too-too-moo and Mama were happy except for one thing. What was that? (Each day, they had to spend most of their earnings to make a pot of porridge for the giant.)
  • How did Too-too-moo and Mama make a living? (They collected firewood and herbs to sell at the village market.)
  • What ingredients went into the giant's porridge? (rice flour, coconut milk, and sugar)
  • What would happen if the giant did not find his porridge outside Too-too-moo's house? (The giant would eat Too-too-moo.)
  • Why did Too-too-moo eat some of the giant's porridge one morning? (She was hungry; she had not eaten in four days.)
  • What did the giant do when he saw the pot was not full? (He knocked down the door, reached his arm inside, and pulled out Too-too-moo and ate her.)
  • What plan did Too-too-moo have to get out of the giant's belly? (She used her hairpin to stick the giant from inside.)
  • How did the giant die? (He tripped on a root and cracked his head.)
  • What did Too-too-moo and Mama have for breakfast the next day? (The next day -- and forever after -- they ate the porridge they normally would have given to the giant.)

The Millionaire Miser: A Buddhist Legend

Listening Comprehension Questions

  • Why did Sushil and his family eat so little? (Food cost money, and Sushil was such a miser that he would not spend his money to feed his family.)
  • What did Sushil see -- and want very badly -- as he walked through town one day? (His mouth watered when he saw a young boy eating a sweet rice dumpling.)
  • What did Sakka, the King of Heaven, see Sushil do one day? (He saw Sushil eat a sweet dumpling without sharing a crumb.)
  • What did Sakka turn himself into? (Sakka turned himself into a Sushil look-alike.)
  • What did Sakka do when he walked into Sushil's home? (Disguised as Sushil, he announced that he was going to share all of Sushil's wealth with the townspeople.)
  • Why did the townspeople chase Sushil out of town? (Those were the instructions Sakka -- disguised as Sushil -- had given.)
  • What did Rajah see when the messenger returned with Sakka? (He saw two people who looked exactly like Sushil.)
  • Why did Nirmala say that Sakka, disguised as Sushil, was the real Sushil? (Accept reasoned responses; for example, Nirmala liked that Sakka had been so generous. She had always wanted Sushil to share his wealth with his family, his servants, and the townspeople.)
  • How was Rajah able to finally discover who was the true Sushil? (Sakka turned himself back into Sakka and explained what he had done.)
  • What idea did Nirmala have for a celebration? (She thought they should make rice dumplings for the entire town.)

The Four Puppets: A Tale of Burma

Listening Comprehension Questions

  • Why did Aung not want to be a puppet maker like his father was? (Aung didn't think the life of a puppet maker was a very exciting life; he wanted to leave home to seek his fortune.)
  • What did Aung's father give him to take on his journey? (He gave Aung four puppets.)
  • What four virtues did the puppets represent? (Each represented a different value or virtue: wisdom, strength, knowledge, and goodness.)
  • Which two virtues did Aung's father say were the most important? (He said wisdom and goodness were most important; more important than knowledge and strength.)
  • How did the king of the gods save Aung's life on the first night? (He told Aung to carefully look around; when Aung did that, he noticed tiger footprints in the mud and decided it would be better to sleep in the tree than under the tree.)
  • When he looked in the caravan carts, what did Aung find that the ogre had helped him acquire? (He found rich fabrics, piles of precious metals, and Mala, the daughter of the caravan owner.)
  • What did Mala do when Aung presented her with a magnificent headdress of gold and jewels? (She pushed it away.)
  • When Mala ran away, what explanation did the holy hermit puppet offer Aung? (The holy hermit puppet said Aung thought wealth would bring happiness; it said "What is important is not what you have, but what you do with it.")
  • What changes did Aung make in his life from that day on? (He used his wealth and talent to do good. He built a pagoda, and gave food and shelter to others. )
  • What special reward did Aung's good deed bring? (He and Mala met again. Aung went to work for Mala's father, and eventually married Mala.)

Four More Asian Folktales to Read Aloud


For each folktale read aloud, students correctly answer at least 7 of 10 questions.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding

NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms

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