If there’s one genre that every middle grade classroom needs, it’s fables. These brief narratives provide great opportunities for age-appropriate writing activities.
Using fables from Aesop, this five-part lesson teaches third, fourth, and fifth grade students to write narratives using effective technique and clear event sequences.
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Overview of Writing Fables:
1. Students read two fables then use higher order thinking skills to determine common elements (RL.3.2, RL.3.9, RL.4.9, RL.5.9). From this analysis, the class generates a list of statements regarding characters, setting, plot, style, and purpose of fables.
2. Instruction of punctuation for direct quotes (L.3.2c, L.4.2b, W.3.3b, W.4.3b, W.5.3b) gets them ready to add dialogue to their fables. Students learn how to handle direct quotations with the dialogue tag at the beginning, middle, or end of the sentence. A 33-slide PowerPoint presentation, specially designed for this unit, is included.
3. Students plan morals and characters for the fables they will write. First, they explore traits associated with different animals by discussing “The Ants and the Grasshopper” and “The Fox and the Crow,” as well as completing a worksheet entitled Animals and Their Traits. Second, they read and discuss two pages of American proverbs (L.4.5b, L5.5b) commonly used as morals. This helps students determine lessons for their own fables.
4. Students focus on writing technique. They analyze introductions, word choice, and conclusions of “The Ants and the Grasshopper” and “The Fox and the Crow.” Using these pieces as models, students write their own introductions (W.3.3a, W.4.3a, W.5.3a) and conclusions (W.3.3d, W.4.3e, W.5.3e). In addition, they develop word banks of specific nouns, active verbs, and sequence terms (W.3.3c, W.4.3c, W.4.3d, W.5.3c, W.5.3d).
5. Students draft, edit, and finalize (W.3.5, W.4.5, W5.5) their fables. An editing checklist allows students to edit their work independently or with a peer.
• complete lesson plans
• two fables by Aesop, specially adapted for this module
• Writing Dialogue PowerPoint presentation & poster
• Animals and Their Traits worksheet
• two pages of American proverbs with interpretation
• two fable planning sheets
• independent/peer editing sheet
• rubric designed to match the Common Core State Standards
For a complete fables unit, add Reading Aesop's Fables
and Finding a Theme and Summarizing
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Writing Fables lesson plans focus on Common Core State Standards W.3.3, W.4.3, and W.5.3 (writing narratives), as well as W.3.4, W.4.4, and W5.4 (producing writing in which development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose).