Storytelling for Literacy: The Stories of Aesop

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by Mike Anderson



STORYTELLING FOR LITERACY The Stories of Aesop by Mike Anderson

 MW Productions 2000 All rights reserved

This project made possible by assistance from the Illinois State Board of Education, Lincoln Land Community College Office of Adult Education and Learning, and the TEAL Program. MW Productions, PO Box 35, Jacksonville, IL 62651


TABLE OF CONTENTS Page 3 Page 10 page 12 Page 14 Page 16 Page 18 Page 20 Page 22 Page 24 Page 26 Page 28 Page 30 Page 32 Page 34 Page 36 Page 38

Introduction The Lion and the Mouse The Man and His Gold The Swallow and the Other Animals The Dog and His Shadow The Fox and the Crow The Woodsman and the Snake Belling the Cat The Boy and Death The Boy Who Cried Wolf The Crow and the Jar The Fox and the Grapes The Fox and the Mask The Fox and the Ox The Fox and the Stork The Goose Who Laid the Golden Egg


INTRODUCTION “So,” the teacher asked, “why do we need to be telling stories to our students. I already read to them. Isn’t that enough?” The answer is maybe, but probably not. Stories are a way to pass on culture and to link the past to the present. For centuries peoples have been passing on the concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, family, and the ways things are to be done within a culture through their stories. From Native American stories to Grandpa telling about his days in the Army, children and adults have learned through the spoken word. Historical events, often rather dry in a textbook, can come alive through the spoken word. The ability of the listener to ask questions and to clarify their understanding is a key component to storytelling and to learning. The extension of vocabulary is a vital purpose of storytelling. Unlike a book, where students pass over unknown words, a story can be stopped, questions can be answered, and words can be defined. As young children move from being passive readers being read to, into the world of actively reading themselves, the roll of comprehension skills is tremendous. Storytelling gives children the tool of visualization. In today’s modern world the images are given to children through picture books, television, and movies. They do not need to visualize; an illustrator has already completed the task. While listening to a story, children must create the pictures in their head. There is no one else to do it. Visualization is a practiced skill. The better a person can “see” what is going on in a story and in books, the better their comprehension will be. So, is reading to children enough? Maybe, but probably not. Reading and storytelling together make a most formidable team. 5


Use the story synopsis to build the story to match your style and the audience. Add voices, expression, setting description, and props to bring the story to life.


Story Synopsis: • Lion catches Mouse. • Lion says he will eat the mouse. • Mouse says, “Don’t eat me. I may be able to help you some day.” • Lion laughs, saying, “Someone as small as you could never help me, the mighty Lion.” • Lion lets mouse go because the mouse made him laugh. • Mouse promises to be Lion’s friend and runs away. • Lion gets caught in a trap and is hanging from a tree in a net. • Mouse happens along and Lion asks for help. • Mouse chews through the rope and sets the lion free. • Lion thanks Mouse and admits he was wrong about size and abilities. • Lion goes away a much wiser King of the Jungle. He never again judges someone by his or her size or how he or she looks. 7

Discussion questions before the story: • Why is someone a friend? • What can your friend do that you can’t? • What can you do that your friend can’t do? • Have you ever helped a friend? Have they ever helped you?

Discussion after the story: • How are Lion and Mouse different? How are they the same? • Was Mouse a good friend? • What could Mouse do that Lion couldn’t? What could Lion do that Mouse couldn’t? • Do friends have to be alike in all ways? In any ways? Projects: • Paper bag Puppets. • Draw pictures of you and your friends. • Before the lesson, make cards showing scenes from the story (or draw on the board). Have the class sequence them.


Story Synopsis: • A man has a chest full of gold that he hides in a hole beneath a tree. • Three times a week he would dig up his gold and look at it, but never take any to use. • One day a robber sees him with his gold. • After the man leaves, the robber digs up the gold and steals it. • The man comes back to find his gold gone, he is very upset. • The man asks all of his neighbors if they have seen the gold. He tells them how he would come to look at it. • A neighbor asks, “Did you ever take any of the gold out and use it?” • The man answers, “No, I would only look at it.” • The neighbor says, “Then go and look at the hole, the hole will do you just as much good. The gold is better off with the robber as it will be useful to him.” Moral: If something is not used, it may as well not exist. 9

Discussion questions before the story: • Do you have any toys you do not use? • Why do you keep them?

Discussion after the story: • What did the man do with his gold? Why? • Why did the neighbor tell him to just look at the hole? • Do you know someone who has something they do not use? What is it? Why do you think they don’t use it anymore? • Do you have things you don’t use? What could you do with them?

Projects: •

Plan to donate unused toys to someone.


Story Synopsis: • Springtime, Swallow and the other animals are in a freshly plowed field. • There’s a person in the field sowing hemp seeds. • Swallow tells the other animals, “Beware of that man!” • Other animals ask, “Why? He is only planting seeds.” • Swallow says, “Those are hemp seeds. Be sure to pick up every seed so they will not grow, or you will be sorry.” • The other animals ignore Swallow’s words. • The hemp grows and is harvested. It is then made into ropes and nets. • Many of the animals who did not listen to Swallow are captured in the nets and ropes made from the hemp. Moral: Stop trouble before it starts. 11

Discussion questions before the story: • Has anyone here ever gotten in trouble? • Did someone warn you that you might get in trouble and then you did? • Why did you go ahead and do it?

Discussion after the story: • What did the swallow want the animals to do? Why? • What is hemp? What is it used to make? • Why didn’t the animals pick up the seeds?

Projects: • • • •

Plant seeds in pots or in a small garden. Weave with paper to make a net. Braid string to make a rope. Draw an animal and then glue string over the drawing in a net design.


Story Synopsis: • A dog finds a bone alongside the path. • The dog starts home proudly carrying his bone. • The dog must cross a bridge over a river to get home. • As he crosses, he looks over and sees his shadow in the water. • The dog thinks it’s another dog with juicy bone, which he wants too. • He barks at the shadow, hoping to scare the dog. • When his mouth opens to bark, the bone drops into the river and is never seen again. Moral: Know what is real and what is not.


Discussion questions before the story: • • • •

What is a shadow? How is a shadow made? What is reality? How can you tell the difference between real and imaginary?

Discussion after the story: • What happened to the dog’s bone? • What words would you use to describe the dog? • Do you think the dog will ever do the same thing again? Why or why not? • Have you ever thought something was real when it wasn’t?

Projects: • Finger shadows on the wall. • Trace shadow silhouettes of classmates or objects. • Braid string to make a rope.


Story Synopsis: • Fox sees a crow land on a branch with a large piece of cheese. • The fox wants the cheese. • Fox walks to the foot of the tree and says, “Good morning, Crow. I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful you look today. Your feathers are so black and glossy. Your eyes are so bright. Surely your voice is as beautiful as you. Please sing a song so I can hear your wonderful voice.” • Crow lifts his head and lets out his best “Caw.” • The moment he opens his mouth to sing, the cheese falls to the ground. • The fox gobbles it up and runs away chuckling at the silly crow. Moral: Beware of those who say too many good things. 15

Discussion questions before the story: • What’s a compliment? • Has anyone ever complimented you? Why?

Discussion after the story: • Did the fox really think Crow was beautiful? • Why did he say such nice things to Crow? • Do you think Crow will believe Fox’s compliments next time? • Has anyone ever tried to trick you like Fox tricked the crow?

Projects: • Give classmates real compliments. • Use sack puppets to act out the story.


Story Synopsis: • A cold winter day, Woodsman is going home. He sees something in the snow. • Woodsman finds it is a poisonous snake. It looks dead. • Woodsman puts the snake in his pocket and continues homeward. • Once home, Woodsman hangs his coat near the fire to dry, leaving the snake in the pocket. • The heat of the fire warms the snake and it crawls out of the pocket. • The snake tries to bite the woodsman. • Woodsman exclaims, “I saved your life, how can you think of biting me?” • Snake says, “You knew I was a snake when you put me in your pocket.” • Woodsman grabs the snake and throws it out the door into the snow.


Discussion questions before the story: • What is a poisonous snake? • Are all snakes poisonous? • How are some snakes good? (Eating rodents, for example) • What is a woodsman, and where would he live?

Discussion after the story: • What kind of person is the woodsman? • Why did the woodsman put the snake into his pocket even though he knew it was poisonous? • How did the snake come back to life? • Why did the snake try to bite the woodsman? • Did you ever help someone only to have him or her be mean back? How did you feel? • Should you have still tried to be nice? • Has someone ever been nice to you and you were mean back?

Projects: • Using paints or makers, color sticks to look like snakes. • Help someone and expect nothing in return. 18

Story Synopsis: • Mice hold a meeting to decide what to with about their enemy: the cat. • They discuss ideas about how to outsmart the cat. (set look outs, etc.) • Young Mouse says, “We all agree that the quiet way the cat sneaks up on us is the main problem. We need a signal so we know the cat is near. I suggest we attach a bell to a ribbon and hang it around the cat’s neck. When we hear the bell ring, we will know the cat is near.” • Everyone agrees it is a great idea! Everyone says the young mouse is very smart. • An old mouse speaks, “It is a good idea. But, who is going to put the bell on the cat?” • No one speaks. The mice all look at one another and then slowly leave the meeting and return home. Moral: All problems are not easily solved.


Discussion questions before the story: • Discuss cats and mice and their relationship.

Discussion after the story: • Why were the mice afraid of the cat? • What are some ideas the mice could have used to protect themselves? • Why is the bell a good idea? Why is it a bad idea? • Why didn’t anyone want to bell the cat?

Projects: • Put a bell on a piece of yarn and wear it. • Play hide-and-go-seek with the “It” person wearing the bell. • Make bells out of egg cartons and foil.


Story Synopsis: • A woodsman was gathering sticks and wood in the forest. • He got very hot and tired, and his stick basket was only half full. • He becomes very discouraged and says, “I will never finish this. The sticks are too heavy. I will never be able to carry the load once the basket is full! I wish Death would come to me now!” • Immediately Death does appear. Death says, “You called me and I have come. What do you wish?” • The man looks wide-eyed at Death and says, “Please, Sir, will you help me lift this basket to my shoulder so I may carry it home?” Moral: Be careful what you wish for lest you get it.


Discussion questions before the story: • Have you ever felt like you had too much to do and just wanted to quit?

Discussion after the story: • • • • •

Why did the man wish Death would come? Did he really want Death to come? What did he really want? How do you think the man feels? Have you ever wished for something, but when you got it you found out you didn’t really want it or it wasn’t like you thought it would be?

Projects: • Pick up sticks and litter. • Discuss advertisements for toys.


Story Synopsis: • A shepherd boy watches the sheep at the foot of a mountain near a forest. • He gets very lonely and bored and wants company and excitement. • The shepherd calls very loudly, “Wolf, Wolf!” • The villagers all run to help him. They stay with him for a while. • The boy likes the attention and the excitement. • He calls “wolf” several more times that week. Each time the villagers come, only to find there is no wolf. • One day a wolf really does come. • The shepherd boy calls, “WOLF!” but no one comes. They think it is yet another trick and decide not to be fooled again. • The wolf has a good meal of sheep. • The shepherd boy asks why no one came and is told, “A liar will not be believed even when he tells the truth.”


Discussion questions before the story: • What is a shepherd? What do they do? • Where do you think a shepherd would live?

Discussion after the story: • Why did the boy call, “Wolf” when there really wasn’t one? • What is a trick? What is a lie? • How are they different? • Do you think the boy will play tricks like that again? • What can the boy do to get the villagers to believe him again?

Projects: • Glue cotton balls onto paper to make the boys flock of sheep. Add legs to the cotton balls. Color one cotton ball dark for the wolf. • Use role-playing and act out the story in a different context. For example: “Someone stole my pencil!” Everyone looks for it. “Oh, here it is” repeat several times. Then someone really steals the pencil and no one cares.


Story Synopsis: • Once a crow was dying of thirst. • She finds jar with a little water in it. • The crow’s beak is too short and she cannot reach far enough down into the jar to get the water. • The crow tries and tries and tries. • The crow has a thought. She drops a small pebble into the jar, and then another, and another, and etc. • With each pebble the water rises just a little. • Finally the water is high enough for the crow to drink and save her life. Moral: Many small steps complete the trip.


Discussion questions before the story: • What does thirsty mean? • Can you die if you do not get enough water?

Discussion after the story: • Why couldn’t the crow get the water at first? • How did she solve the problem? • Can you think of any other solutions? (knock jar over?) • What does the moral mean? • What were the small steps the crow had to take? • Can you think of anything that takes a lot of small steps to complete?

Projects: • Drop rocks or marbles into a jar of water to raise the water level. • Make birdbaths using tin plates.


Story Synopsis: • A hot summer day, Fox is very thirsty. • He sees a grapevine that has grown onto a high branch. It has juicy grapes on it. • Fox says, “Those are just the thing to quench my thirst!” • He jumps to grab the grapes, but misses by a great deal. • He steps back and runs and jumps. He misses again. • He spins and jumps, and misses. • The fox tries again and again with the same result. • Finally the fox walks away saying, “Those grapes are probably sour anyway.”


Discussion questions before the story: • Where do grapes grow? • Have you ever wanted something a lot? • Why did you want it?

Discussion after the story: • Why did the fox want the grapes? • Does he really know they are sour? Why does he say the grapes are sour? • Does not being able to have something make you think the thing is better or not as good? • Should you always be able to get everything you want or always get it easily? • Do you think the fox will come back and try to get the grapes again?

Projects: • Play a jumping game. Pretend to be the fox trying to get the grapes. • Have grapes for a snack and try to describe their taste.


Story Synopsis: • Fox somehow gets into a storeroom of a theater. • Fox looks around at all the strange and wonderful things. • A scary face staring at him in the darkness frightens Fox. • The fox begins to run away. • Fox notices the face isn’t following him and hasn’t actually moved. • The fox carefully goes back and discovers the face is nothing more than a mask. Moral: Don’t be afraid of what you do not understand.


Discussion questions before the story: • • • •

What are some scary things? Can different things scare different people? How can being scared help you? How can being scared not be a good thing?

Discussion after the story: • Why was Fox afraid? • How did he get over his fear? • What were some things that scared you when you were little? • Why did it scare you? • Does it still scare you? • How can you help a friend who is scared?

Projects: • Make paper plate masks or draw a mask. • Role-play helping someone through a scary time.


Story Synopsis: • A little frog quickly hops back to his pond and meets a big frog. • Big Frog says, “What are you so excited about?” • Little Frog says, “I saw a monster as big as a mountain. It had great horns on its head and a long tail and hooves.” • Old Frog says, “That was just the farmer’s ox, and it’s not so big.” • Little Frog, “Oh, yes, it was!” • The big frog puffs himself up a bit. “Was it this big?” • Little Frog says, “Oh, much bigger!” • Big Frog puffs again, “How about now? Was it this big?” • Little Frog says, “Much bigger.” This continues many times, the big frog gets bigger and bigger. • Finally the Big Frog says, “It cannot be bigger than this!” He puffs himself bigger and bigger and bigger and BLAMMM! He explodes. Moral: Don’t try to be bigger than you are.


Discussion questions before the story: • What is an ox? • How big is a frog?

Discussion after the story: • Why was the little frog scared? • Why did the big frog keep swelling bigger and bigger? • What happened to him? • What do you know about the kind of person each frog was? • Do you know anyone who tried to be something they weren’t? What happened?

Projects: • Draw a picture of a frog on a balloon and blow it up.


Story Synopsis: • • • • • • • •

Once Fox and Stork were good friends. Fox invited Stork over for dinner. Fox served soup in a flat, shallow dish as a joke. While Fox easily lapped up the soup, Stork could not eat at all with his long bill. Fox says, “I am sorry you did not like the soup.” Stork says, “That’s OK,” and invites Fox over for dinner. Stork also serves soup, but in a tall, narrow-necked jar. Stork eats easily from the jar; Fox cannot put his snout into the jar. All he can do is lick the outside of the jar. Fox goes home hungry.

Moral: Do to others, as you want them to do to you.


Discussion questions before the story: • What does a stork look like? • What does a fox look like? • How do you think they eat?

Discussion after the story: • What was the trick Fox played on stork? Did Stork think it was funny? • Why do you think Fox played the trick? • What was the trick Stork played on Fox? Did he think it was funny? • Why do you think Stork played the trick? • Do you think they will still be friends? Why - why not? • How could they have avoided their problems? • Have you ever had someone pay a trick on you? How did you feel?

Projects: • Try to eat food with the wrong thing, i.e., soup with a fork, box of juice without a straw or using hands. crackers with a straw (no bending over to bite it)


Story Synopsis: • A man is collecting the eggs from his chickens and geese. He finds a golden goose egg. • The egg is very heavy. He almost throws it away thinking it must be a trick. • He discovers it is really made from gold. • The next day he finds another golden egg. And the next day and the next day. • As the man gets richer, he gets greedier. He wants more than one egg at a time. • The man decides to kill the goose and get all the golden eggs inside the goose all at once. • Once the goose is laid open, he finds there are no eggs inside. And since the goose is dead, there will be no more eggs at all. Moral: Do not try to take more than is offered.


Discussion questions before the story: • What does greedy mean? • Has someone you know ever been greedy? Have you? What happened? • Why do you think people are greedy sometimes?

Discussion after the story: • What did the man find in the nest? • Why did he think it was a trick? • Why did he kill the goose? Did it work? What happened instead? • How do you think the man feels? • What should he have done instead of killing the goose?

Projects: • Paint an egg golden. • Make a drawing on a nest and glue jellybeans into it for eggs. Make one of the jellybeans yellow to show the golden egg.


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