The Tortoise and the Hare
Aesop’s classic fable teaches a timeless lesson about doing your best
This fun read-aloud version of Aesop’s classic fable focuses on identifying the moral of a story.
Identifying the Moral
ELA: fables; Character education
Moral, theme, inference, summarizing, character, plot, text evidence
This article and lesson support the following standards:
Common Core anchor standards: R.1, R.2, R.3, W.2, SL.1, SL.2
TEKS: 3.2, 3.3., 3.7, 3.20, 3.29, 3.30
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Set a Purpose for Reading
• Call on a volunteer to read aloud the Think and Read box on page 22 for the class. Ask: What is a fable? (a story that teaches a lesson, usually featuring animals as characters) Ask: What other fables are you familiar with? Discuss the morals of any other fables you have read as a class.
• Have a student read the subhead on page 21 aloud for the class. Ask the class to make predictions about who will win and why.
Introduce Vocabulary (10 minutes)
• While the story does not include vocabulary words in the text itself, there is a vocabulary activity online that previews challenging words and allows students to list the words that are unfamiliar to them. Project or distribute the activity to go over the words.
• Challenging words: groggy, dawdled, wavered, slinks
Bridging Decoding and Comprehension
• Storyworks Jr. plays provide a perfect opportunity for students to build fluency. Point out to students that characters in the play often show aspects of their personalities through their voices. Point out Hare’s and Tortoise’s first lines and the directions that go along with them (quickly and slowly). Ask students to model talking like Tortoise and Hare.
• As an extension, ask students to think about how the other characters might speak and try out voices. This can be a creative activity for the whole class.
Reading and Unpacking the Text
• First read: Read the play as a class.
• Second read: Project or distribute the close-reading questions. Discuss them as a class, rereading lines or scenes as necessary.
• Separate students into groups to discuss the critical-thinking question. Then have groups share their answers with the class.
Close-Reading Questions (20 minutes)
• In Scene 1, what can you guess Aesop’s story will be about? How did you make your guess? (inference) Aesop’s story will be about someone slow. You can guess this because Aesop says he knows what story to tell after the children pick on Niko for being slow.
• In Scene 2, why does Porcupine suggest that Hare run backward for the whole race? (inference) Porcupine suggests this because Hare is very fast and Tortoise is very slow. Porcupine is worried that the race won’t be fair unless Hare has a disadvantage.
• Reread the last five lines of Scene 3. What do you learn about Tortoise? (character) Tortoise is very determined, and she wants to win the race without cheating or doing anything unfair.
• What does Hare do in Scene 4? Why does he do this? (plot, character) Hare takes a nap because he is so confident that he will win the race against Tortoise.
• How do the other animals explain how Tortoise won the race? (text evidence) Crow says that Hare dawdled and napped, and Fox says that Tortoise kept going and never gave up.
Critical-Thinking Question (7 minutes)
• How does Tortoise win the race? What does this tell you about the moral of the fable? (moral) Tortoise keeps going steadily, while Hare stops to eat and nap. Because Tortoise tried her hardest and never gave up, she won the race. Hare lost because he didn’t try his best and was lazy. The moral of the fable is that if you put your best effort into something, you may succeed. If you are so confident that you don’t even try, you probably won’t succeed.
Exploring Moral (15 minutes)
• Have students complete our activity on identifying the moral. They will then be prepared to write a response to the Think and Write question on p. 25.
Here’s a somewhat random but whimsical spin on the tortoise and hare’s race. It’s a 90-second commercial for Air New Zealand, but it gets the point across in a fun way!
Check out this awesome post on the Storyworks Ideabook! It’s got tips for using our plays in your classroom, from teaching blogger Michelle Divkey.
How fast are these animals, really? Hares can run as fast as 37 mph, while most tortoises plod along at 1-3 mph.
Tortoise vs. Hare Showdown
Of course, someone had to put this fable to the test! Show your students this short video of a real life tortoise vs. hare race. You won’t believe who wins!