Writing skills: Fables
An enjoyable one-/two-hour lesson as a basis for writing a fable. Students produce an original fable, using narrative target language.
Target language: verbs describing direct speech; use of adverbs and present participles for extra information about the speaker; inversion of subject and verb for dramatic emphasis
Time: Either as a two-hour lesson, two one-hour lessons or a one-hour lesson plus homework.
The lesson starts on an upbeat so energises a tired writing class. A “Fable swap milling exercise” makes students retell their own fable eight times. Each repetition should help to increase confidence and fluency and gives students a chance to correct and elaborate. Encourage this. This first step also allows exposure to the target language pinpointed in the analysis stage later.
- Hand out one of the eight Fables (you may need to repeat them, depending on numbers) and one “Fable titles” / “morals” sheet to each student. Fold the latter so only the titles are showing. As you do this talk about what a Fable is and ask whether they have heard of ”Aesop”s Fables”.
- Give them the necessary time to understand and memorise (stress not word for word) the Fable.
- Students mill and tell their fable to every other student, hearing one and ticking it off their titles list in return.
- Sit down in pairs and unfold their sheet to match the tales heard with the morals listed. (Give plenty of time for discussion and questions to each other)
- Explain the stories read well partly due to certain language features in them. Hand out the Analysis worksheet for individual and pair work (see sheet).
- Write their own fable (see sheet). Encourage them to make it as serious or funny, modern or traditional as they wish.
Some fables links:
A site with a large list of Aesop's fables including some with audio files:
This university site is really worth a visit. It is the creation of a computer studies course in which students have to illustrate the traditional Aesop's fables along side their own retellings of the fables in a modern setting.
Another great site with lots of interactive tools for young students to have fun with. Students enter their personal details and they are integrated into stories and fables.