(the wonderful Corinne Mucha brings us this lesson plan she’s used to teach fables from our just-published graphic novel Fable Comics)
I’m so excited to have a comic in First Second’s new anthology, Fable Comics. Adapting the fable “The Elephant in Favor” was a fun writing exercise that got me thinking about how I could use fables in my practice as a teaching artist.
This summer, I was able to incorporate fables as the focus of a month-long drawing and illustration class for 7-11 year olds at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. My students loved having the opportunity to draw and write stories about animals doing funny things. Using fables as a writing exercise is great because it provides students with an invitation to think about their story’s conclusions in a new way. Was there a moral? What was the point of their animals actions? Did they learn anything at all? Also, who doesn’t love having an excuse to draw pictures of horses wearing pants?
For one assignment, I used James Kochalka’s comic adaptation of “The Fox and the Grapes” as an example. My students loved it! Many of them were already familiar with the story, but less familiar with “Fox Kung-Fu.” Asking them what they thought the moral might be provided some entertaining (and wise) answers.
The story is pretty simple. A fox wants some grapes, and after some unsuccessful jump kicks, he tries using a fancy jet pack to reach them. He fails, and so he gives up and goes home. This simple story structure still provides a plot with a problem and solution. It models an easy example for students to base their own stories on.
I used this worksheet to get my students brainstorming their own ideas about an animal who is seeking something:
After students had made some sketches and jotted down some ideas, we got ready to start the final project, a fold-out book. We used big sheets of construction paper, pencils, fine tip markers and construction paper crayons as our materials (regular crayons or colored pencils are fine.)
Our books would only include 3 images inside. I drew this diagram on the board, so that students had a focus to keep in mind for each drawing:
I made an example book to give them some ideas, and to demonstrate that our drawings didn’t have to be too complicated. My story starred a unicorn looking for treasure.
I had a lot of fun doing this project. My students ideas were entertaining, funny, and thoughtful. It’s nice to spend time asking kids to give you advice…
Even though the lesson may not always be clear.
(thanks for this great piece, Corinne!)