Fable and Folktale Fun

Victoria Lightfoot

What is the central message of a folktale? What is the theme? How are the character feelings, traits, and motivations conveyed throughout the story?


Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters PDF
Various Fables
1. The Lion and the Mouse
2. The Crow and the Pitcher
3. Belling the Cat
4. The Tortoise and the Hare
5. The Wind and the Sun
6. The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse
7. The Fox and the Grapes
8. The Shepard Who Cried Wolf
9. The Ant and the Grasshopper
Poster Board
Hole Puncher
Skewer Sticks
Masking Tape
Tri-fold Board
Shower curtain


1. Introduction: Tell students that today you will be retelling an African Tale entitled Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe. Tell students that for this particular story, you will be using puppetry. Explain to students that puppetry is an ancient form of artistic expression that is a variation on storytelling or human theatrical productions. In puppetry, a drama unfolds that is entirely or primarily acted out by specialized representational objects, which are manipulated by a puppeteer. The human animator may or may not be visible to the audience. Cultural variations of puppetry developed independently in many parts of the world, with distinctive types still carried on today in Japan, China, Germany, Indonesia, and the United States, among other places. Some specific puppets became international icons in the age of television, including Howdy Doody, Lamp Chop, and Jim Henson’s Muppets
2. Begin Retelling the story.
3. After reading, ask students the following questions:
a. Describe Manyara.
b. Describe Nyasha.
c. Why was Manyara jealous of her sister?
d. How do the characters change throughout the story?
e. What motivated Manyara and Nyasha to act the way they did?
f. What could Manyara do about her feelings?
g. Why do you think Nyasha was chosen as queen?
h. What kind of queen do you think Nyasha will be?
i. What kind of queen would Manyara have been if she had been chosen instead?
j. How do you think Manyara felt about being a servant to Nyasha?
k. What do you think might have happened to Manyara if she had behaved differently?
l. How did the images in puppetry convey meaning in the story?
4. Tell students that they will be working in a small group to retell a folktale or fable of their own. Allow students to select their groups, then allow time for each group to choose a fable or folktale they would like to retell. Distribute materials. Allow students time to read over their fable or folktale and create the design of their puppets. (Allow students time to sketch out what they want their puppets to look like) While students are working, circulate the room asking and answering questions about student work.
5. Allow 5-10 minutes for students to choose their fable/folktales and sketch their puppet designs, then conduct a 15 minute mini lesson about have to create shadow puppets
6. Discuss how to use shapes in their drawings, how to manipulate their puppets to show action, and how to construct/build their puppets using masking tape and rods.
7. After the mini lesson, circulate the room to make sure all groups know what they’re doing. Tell students that if they need assistance, they can meet you at the guided reading table. (This can be any table in your classroom, all you need is a clear space to help students create their puppets).

Differentiation Approaches

1. Retelling tasks can vary based on ability.
2. Students will read a fable or folktale of their choice. Members of the group are allowed to read the story aloud while acting out the parts.
3. Students will read a fable or folktale of their choice. Students will retell the story in their own words. (Fables & folktales must have at least 2 characters, character traits, feelings and motivation must be clearly represented in the story. The story must include a theme.
4. Students will create their own fable or folktale and retell it. (Fables & folktales must have at least 2 characters, character traits, feelings and motivation must be clearly represented in the story. The story must include a theme.


In groups, have students retell their fable/ folktale using puppetry. After each group presents, ask the following questions:
1. Who were the main characters in the story?
2. How would you describe the main characters in the story?
3. Did any of the characters change throughout the story? How did they change and why?
4. What is the theme of the fable/folktale? How do you know?
5. What motivated the characters in the story to do what they did?

Follow Up and Extension Ideas

Follow up
Students can present their puppetry as an informance.

Extension Ideas
Students can choose a different character from their story and retell the story from that characters point of view.

Additional Details

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