Grades 3-5 ActivitiesEXPLORE FABLES
• Grades 3-5 Student Worksheet and Answer Key (PDF)
New York State Social Studies StandardsOverview
Standard 2—World History
Performance Indicator 2.1c
Study about different world cultures and civilizations focusing on their accomplishments, contributions, values, beliefs, and traditions.
Students will learn what a fable is, explore fables told along the Silk Road, and then create their own.
Background for Educator
Fables are short stories that teach a moral lesson, like Aesop's "The Tortoise and the Hare." The characters are usually common people or animals that speak and act like humans. Fables often reveal how cultures understand their surroundings and which values they hold dear. As the stories traveled across generations and cultures, the characters and settings would often change, but the lesson of the story stayed the same.
For instance, the elements of Little Red Riding Hood—whose origin can be traced to the Norse in the 13th century—can be found in Peter and the Wolf (Russia), Borreguita and the Coyote (Mexico), and The Story of Grandaunt Tiger (China/Taiwan).
Elements from fables have been adopted for use in songs, games, poetry, jokes, and sayings; characters or motifs may appear in jewelry, clothing, and textiles. Additional information and examples can be found at Scholastic.
Before Your Visit
Class Discussion: What is a fable?
Engage students by telling a familiar fable or by reading one. Then ask what kind of story they think they just heard. (Answer: a fable.) Encourage students to name fables they may have heard in school or at home, and to talk about the moral of the story. (Some common fables and their morals include: The Boy Who Cried Wolf: Don't lie; even when liars tell the truth, people won't believe them. Three Little Pigs: Hard work can fend off danger. Other fables can be found at pantheon.org/areas/folklore/fables/) Use the discussion to help students come away with a common understanding/definition of what a fable is.
Plan how your students will explore Traveling the Silk Road. Distribute copies of the student worksheets to students before coming to the Museum.Additional Activities
Visit the Scholastic site for an extended activity on fables, where students can practice telling stories out loud as well as writing them online.
During Your Visit
Traveling the Silk Road Exhibition
3rd floor (30-45 minutes)
To explore fables in the exhibition, direct students to the Samarkand section. Find the large video screen titled "Stories of the Silk Road." Have students watch the three animations ("The Stonemason Who Was Never Satisfied," "The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs," and "The Lion and The Hare") and complete the first page of the student worksheet. Then have each student select an interesting object from elsewhere in the exhibition, and draw it on the back of the worksheet. Tell them that back in the classroom, they will create a story around this object.
In Traveling the Silk Road, students can stamp Passports as they enter each of the four cities. Pick up the Passports at the exhibition entrance.Stout Hall of Asian Peoples
2nd floor (20-30 minutes)
After leaving the Silk Road exhibition, descend the staircase one flight and enter the Stout Hall of Asian Peoples through the door to your left. Upon entering, direct your students to "Samarakand: Crossroad of Asia" for a close-up view of items that may have been traded along the Silk Road. Then find the China (yellow walls) and India (red walls) sections towards the center of the hall. You may ask students to select an interesting object from either of these sections, and draw it on the back of their
worksheets. Tell them that back in the classroom, they will create a story around this object. If there's time, you and your students can visit the Tribes of Central Asia section.
Back in the Classroom
Class Discussion: Review "Silk Road Fables"
Watch the animations of the three fables from the exhibition online. Ask students which words are unfamiliar. (Unfamiliar words may include: stonemason—a craftsman who cuts, shapes, or works with stone or brick that are then used in to create buildings; and hare—a long-eared mammal similar to a large rabbit.) You may also use this time to give students a chance to complete their student worksheets.
Activity: Create a Fable
Part I: Remind students of the definition of "fable" (see pre-visit activity). Draw a table on the board and list the three "Silk Road Stories." As a class, fill in the table with information (e.g. characters, locations, lessons or morals) that the students gathered on their student worksheets and/or came up with after watching each of the tales online. (See answer key on the student worksheet.) Discuss what the three tales have in common, and where they differ.
(Answers may include: The stonemason and the owner of the goose both wanted something more or different from what they possessed. Both learned that they should have been satisfied in the first place. All three stories have a "magical" component, such as wishes being granted, a goose laying golden eggs, and talking animals.)
Part II: Read and review at least three other fables with your students. (For ideas, see the online resources below.) Add the names and lessons learned to the table your class created on the board. Using the information (e.g. characters, lessons or morals) the class has gathered about various fables and objects at the Museum, have students work in small groups to create their own fables, with original sets of characters and moral lessons. They can write and illustrate the fable, create a play, or produce a shadow puppet story.
An Explanation of Folktales, Fairytales, Myths, Legends, Fables
A website that compares and describes the history and characteristics of fables, folktales, myths, and fairytales.
Resources that include links to fables, information about the origin of specific fables and academic resources.
A resource for folk and fairy tales including annotations, information about similar fables across different cultures, and the history of fables.