So I recently won this book and had the pleasure of sharing it with my class this week.
We read all three tales, one of which the kids were familiar with, two that I was familiar with, and one that none of us had ever read before.
The great thing about fables, is that they have a tidy package of the main idea at the end that kids can latch on to. What sets this book apart in the genre though, is that Aesop is a character that is interacting within the story- relating what he sees, feels, and thinks of the situation before the main idea is presented. This makes it a great example text for guiding young readers on the comprehension strategy of synthesizing information.
Another plus to this book is the richness of language. It was a great opportunity to talk about synonyms and expanding our vocabularies. We were also able to figure out unfamiliar words in context because of the synonyms we did know.
With each story, I was able to touch on a different style point to bring out in Writer's Workshop time as well. With the Tortoise and the Hare, we had a great example of using bold words for emphasis. In both that story and in The Friends and the Bear, there was a great opportunity to discuss onomatopoeia. And by the time we read the third story- we had a solid foundation for discussing how the stories each began and ended in the same way, but the middles were different.
There are indeed, a million other applications for this book. I am excited to note that there is already a second one available, and soon to be a third. You can find out more about them at the website by Aesop's Childhood Adventures and order a copy of your own by clicking the picture above.
Here are some other activities we did with the book:
Social Studies Connection: Map Making
In The Tortoise and the Hare, the race route is described. Using the comprehension technique of Visualization, we imagined the race route and created a map of what we saw in our heads.
Character Connection: - Rules of Friendship
In the Friends and the Bear, a bear sniffs a secret of friendship into a young boys ear. We had a discussion about what we would have had the bear say, if we could have picked a friendship rule.
Our pages were folded in half so we could staple them all together to make a book.
You can find a good friend that is always there!
Don't have a friend who leaves you behind.
Always help your friend when he is in danger.
Science/Math Connection - Liquid Capacity
In the Crow and the Pitcher, a good idea leads to a reward. We tried this out for ourselves to see if this would work. I put out different size containers and filled them halfway. We went over cups to pints, and pints to quarts, and quarts to gallons in the process. We also did incorporated the scientific method by posing the question which item would lift the water faster? The tiles or the cubes. Another math tie in was to make an estimate of how many tiles and cubes we would have to put in, and how many we actually ended up with. I whipped up this quick chart on the fly:
This mamma-jamma ended up taking 517 tiles to lift the water.
We found out that the connecting cubes DID NOT raise the water. WHY? They "were too big", "didn't fit together like the tiles", "weren't heavy enough", and "had holes in them". All around, an impressive study. One container we only had time to try the cubes with, so it will be set out with tiles for a center station later this week.
What did I get out of this as a teacher?
1) They are great mentor texts for writer's workshop. For serious people, they are jam packed with goodness.
2) I really want to get the other two books, and make the fables more central to my teaching next year. I could really focus on two each quarter and consistently refer back to them. With the Tortoise and the Hare, we were able to talk about how the Tortoise had focus and was able to complete her task. So for the past couple of days we've been able to get our attention back to whatever we're working on by saying "Let's focus like the tortoise!" and somebody always adds in "Don't be a lazy hare!".
3) I really enjoyed the science, math, and social studies connections I came up with on the spur of the moment. I know that if I gave myself more time, I could come up with many different applications for these stories and create projects for them.
4) We didn't get to this yet- but these stories are great for retelling. The stories would be great with masks or puppets- the children enjoyed the stories so much they can retell them again and again.
What does everyone else do with fables in their classrooms?