Talking about Talking Animals -
Reading Fables and Folk Tales

A 2nd or 3rd Grade English Language Arts Lesson Plan

This is a whole class or small group discussion activity to follow a story reading time that includes fables and folk tales, such as:

Skills addressed include:

Ask the children to raise their hands if there were any animals in the stories they read, and then keep their hands up if any of the animals talked.

Have these children summarize the stories for the rest of the class.

List the animals from the stories.


Lead a discussion focusing on the talking animals:

Could these stories be real-life stories or are they make-believe? Have you ever heard an animal talk like the one in the story?

What if the animals were changed to other animals? Could a tiger be changed to a bear? Could a mouse be changed to a bear? Why were the particular animals used?

Go down the list of animals and ask for words to describe the animal in the story - little, striped, smart, brave, funny, etc. Write them after each animal. Which words could also be used to describe people?

Imagine the story if all the animals were people. Would the story still make sense? Could it have really happened? What would the people be like - big, little, weak, strong, smart, funny? Do you like the story better with animals or people?

Compare the animal character description words. Do some animals have similar descriptions?

Can you guess where the stories might have come from by the animals in the story?

If a story has jungle animals, would it still be a good story if all the animals were forest animals or arctic animals or city animals or animals from the past, like dinosaurs?

Story Writing and Recounting

Have small groups choose a story with talking animals and retell it or rewrite it with different animals or with people. Present the story to the rest of the class. Do the words used to describe the original characters still apply to the new characters?

• Variation: Have the children choose a story with only people and retell it or rewrite it with talking animals in place of the people.

If two groups work from the same story, did they choose the same animals?

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