Lessons & Units :: Theme 3rd Grade Unit

Lesson 1: Identifying the Theme of a Fable

Lesson Plan

Aesop's Fables | 760L

Aesop's Fables
Learning Goal
Use the plot and main idea of a fable to identify the theme.
Approximately 50 minutes
Necessary Materials
Provided: Direct Teaching for Lesson 1: Theme Graphic Organizer A, Guided Practice for Lesson 1: Theme Graphic Organizer B, Guided Practice for Lesson 1: Theme Graphic Organizer B Answer Key, Independent Practice Worksheet
Not Provided: Aesop’s Fables by Jerry Pinkney, chart paper, markers
  • Teacher Modeling

    will explain that the “theme” is the underlying meaning or lesson of a story that the author is trying to convey to the reader. I will also explain that good readers think about the events that happen in the story (plot) and what the story is mostly about (main idea) to figure out the lesson we can learn (theme). I will read “The Boasting Traveler” (p. 76) from Aesop’s Fables by Jerry Pinkney aloud. I will use a graphic organizer to chart the the events from the story and think aloud about what the story is mostly about to identify the theme of the story. (Direct Teaching Teacher Example Graphic Organizer is provided below in Teacher and Student Materials.) I will explain that I think the author is trying to tell me that actions speak louder than words.

  • Think Check

    Ask: How did I identify the theme of the story? Students should respond that you read the story and identified the events in the story and thought about what the story was mostly about. Then you used this information to figure out the lesson or theme of the story.

  • Guided Practice

    will read “The Travelers and the Gold Coins” (p. 75) from Aesop’s Fables. We chart what happened in the story and what the story is mostly about on our graphic organizer, in order to identify the theme of the story. We will conclude that one theme is, "If you don’t share your good luck, don’t expect to share your bad luck. (Guided Practice Student Worksheet and Teacher Answer Key are provided below.)

  • Independent Practice

    will read “The Fox and the Crow” (p. 68) from Aesop’s Fables. You will use a graphic organizer to chart the the events from the story and think aloud about what the story is mostly about, in order to identify the theme of the story. (Student Independent Practice is provided below.) Note: You will need to provide your students with a copy of the story for Independent Practice.

    TIP: Students may word the themes differently. As long as the theme is supported by the plot and the main idea, it is correct. Provide struggling students with two or three options for the theme so that they can choose the best theme based on the plot and main idea.

Build Student Vocabulary boasting

Tier 2 Word: boasting
Contextualize the word as it is used in the story "He stood in the marketplace, boasting of his adventure: he had climbed the highest mountains, sailed the deepest seas, and visited the most magnificent cities."
Explain the meaning student-friendly definition) To boast is to show off the things you own or have done. The traveler was boasting about the things he did, the places he visited, and about the long jump he made.
Students repeat the word Say the word with me: boasting.
Teacher gives examples of the word in other contexts I didn’t like it when my friend was boasting about how much money he has. When I told my cousin that I bought a new dress, she boasted that she had seven new dresses.
Students provide examples Tell me about a time you heard someone boast. What were they boasting about? Say "I heard someone boast about _____________."
Students repeat the word again. What word are we talking about? boasting
Additional Vocabulary Words spectacular, magnificent

Build Student Background Knowledge

After reading the fable “The Travelers and the Gold Coins”, explain that people have been using gold to make jewelry for thousands of years (since the Stone Age). One early source of gold was found in Ethiopia, in East Africa. There were many gold mines in Ethiopia, and many African countries traded their salts and goods for gold.

Texts & Materials

Standards Alignment

(To see all of the ReadWorks lessons aligned to your standards, click here.)

User Comments

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It may have another name: "The Travelers and the Purse"

I could not find "The Travelers and the Gold Coins" anywhere!!!! So disappointing. :(

Thanks for posting. This lesson utilizes the volume by Jerry Pinkney. More information can be found in the book's page on our website, which also includes a link to the book on Amazon. You can access the book's page by clicking the following link: www.readworks.org/books/aesops-fables

It is my 1st visit to ReadWorks.org and I have already been able to use the resources to help my students master paraphrasing the theme of a fable and providing supporting evidence from the text. Thank you ReadWorks.org!

This is my first visit as well and it your ReadWorks lesson is an excellent way to teach students how to discover the theme. Thank you so very much!!!!

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