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Critical Thinking With Fables New and Old



  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
    --Visual Arts


  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

A powerful modern-day fable leads to an exploration of Aesop’s fables and students writing their own.



  • explore fables of modern times and Aesop's ancient fables.
  • understand the structure of a fable.
  • think critically about the lessons/morals of a variety of fables.
  • decide on a lesson they would like to teach through a fable; apply the fable structure to writing that lesson.


fable, Aesop, writing, critical thinking

Materials Needed

Lesson Plan

Provide a copy of or project on a screen the story of the boy and the fence. Give students an opportunity to read the story, or read it aloud to them. When the reading is completed, ask students to think critically and to write a sentence or two to describe the moral, or lesson, of the story.

Next, pair each student with another. Ask students to share their sentences about the moral of the story with their partners. Then discuss the moral of the story as a class.

Explain to students that the story they just read was a modern-day lesson story, or fable. Fables have been a storytelling staple since ancient times when a well-known storyteller called Aesop recorded many fables. As a matter of fact, many of Aesop's stories will be familiar to students today.

Share a handful of Aesop's stories with students. You might choose from the list of fables below. Do not share the moral that appears at the end of each story. After reading each story, let student pairs talk about the moral, or lesson, that they think the story was meant to teach. Students will see that many of the stories can teach more than one lesson.

Fables Sutiable for Younger Students
The Crow and the Pitcher
The Dog and the Shadow
The Dove and the Ant
The Fox and the Stork
The Hare and the Tortoise
The Ant and the Grasshopper
The Milkmaid and Her Pail
The Shepherd's Boy and the Wolf

Fables Suitable for Older Students
The Crow and the Raven
The Crab and the Fox
The Dog and the Shadow
The Four Oxen and the Lion
The Fox and the Cat
The Fox and the Goat
The Hart and the Hunter
The Jay and the Peacock

Follow-Up Activities
Choose to do one of the following activities.

  • Have students choose to retell in writing one of the tales they read or heard. Have them tell why they chose to retell that story and/or to tell in their own words about the moral/lesson of the story.
  • Have students choose a lesson -- perhaps one of the lessons of the fables they read, or another one -- and to write a fable that teaches that lesson.
  • The fables of Aesop that are shared above are retold much as they were told in ancient times. Have students read the traditional and modern re-telling of the fables below. Then have them rework one of the fables they heard or read into a modern setting and modern language. Students might illustrate their stories too.
    Note: The following modern adaptations all come from a single source; they were created by art students at the University of Massachusetts. The fables below were chosen for their suitability as examples. You might share these examples with younger students, but you should not allow them to freely explore the Web site; some of the other fables on the site are for mature audiences only.
    The Rooster and the Pearl
    The Goose With the Golden Eggs
    The Hare With Many Friends
    The Dog and the Wolf


    Assessment depends on which of the follow-up activities you selected to use. If students write a modern telling of one of Aesop's fables, you might apply your favorite writing rubric to that activity or you might adapt this resource:

  • Rubric for Writing a Fable.


Lesson Plan Source

Education World

National Standards

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 5 - 8
NA-VA.5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 9 - 12
NA-VA.9-12.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

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