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Fable Story Spines
Content Topic:
This lesson helps students understand the genre of fables. They will create a class fable based on a story spine of leading introductions. Students get a better understanding of a moral or author’s purpose by creating their own story rather than defining a moral based on a previous work. Students will illustrate and publish their movie using i-Movie or other movie-making application.
Collaboration Potential:
TL, Art teacher
Total Estimated Time:
2.5 hours
Suggested Number Of Sessions:
3 (including art lesson)


A variety of fable collections such as: Fables by Lobel, Aesop’s Fables by Sneed, The McElderry Book of Aesop’s Fables by Morpurgo, Aesop’s Fables by Pinkney, Mice, Morals, and Monkey Business: Lively Lessons from Aesop’s Fables by Wormell


I-movie or other movie-making application


Story spine: “Once upon a time…” “Everyday…” “But one day…” “Because of that…” “Because of that…” “Because of that…” “Until finally…” “Ever since then…” “And the moral of the story is…”



Chart paper and markers,

8 ½ x 11” paper and markers or crayons for illustrations





Mark Benoit, Apple Trainer: Uses story spine as ice-breaker for trainings

Instruction / Activities:

Day 1- Library


Direct Instruction:

  • Review genre of fables (classroom teacher will have previously taught genre), asking students what the purpose and main characteristics of a fable are.
  • Ask key questions like Form- “What is it like?” Function- “How does it work?” Connection- “How is it connected to things?” Reflection- “How do we know?”
  • Picture-walk through some collections of fables, noting similarities.


Modeling and guided practice:

  • TL reads a fable or two without giving away the moral or author’s purpose.
  • TL suggests a moral or author’s purpose to the fable, explaining the reasoning.


Independent practice:

  • TL reads fables to the class without giving the moral, and has students engage in discussion about their ideas of what the moral is.


Modeling and guided practice:

  • TL explains to students that they are going to write their own fable, together as a class, and that they will illustrate it, put it all together, and record it as a movie, following a format called a story spine.
  • TL gives students the first lead-in: “Once upon a time…”
  • TL calls on a student to finish the sentence, modeling the format of fables previously read.
  • TL writes the lead-in and response on chart paper
  • TL gives the next lead-in: “Everyday…”
  • Continue on through the story spine, finishing with “And the moral of the story is…”

Sharing and reflecting:

  • Along with class, TL reviews the fable to make sure it follows a logical sequence, relates to the lead-in, and has a moral that reflects the main purpose of the story.
  • Corrections or changes are made if needed.
  • Students will take the chart paper with their fable to their art class.

 Day 2 – Art class

  • Students illustrate the fable in art class.
  • TL scans the illustrations onto laptop in order to use with i-movie or other digital application.

 Day 3 – Library


Direct Instruction:

  • TL explains that students will now be putting together their class fable and their illustrations in order to record and make a movie.
  • TL teaches process for adding text, adding pictures, adding transitions, and recording in the movie application.


Modeling and guided practice:

  • TL models adding in the slides with the words of the lead-ins of the story spine, the students’ illustrations, and how to record their story.


Independent Practice:

  • If using an interactive whiteboard, when students are called on, they can come up to click and drag the slides and pictures into the desired sequence and add the transitions between slides.
  •  If using a regular screen, TL can call on students to tell which illustration to drag, etc.
  • TL calls on students one at a time to come up and record on the laptop the lead-in of the story spine and the response, which students read off the chart made previously.


Sharing and Reflecting:

  • TL plays the finished product for the class and students point out any changes needed (e.g. transitions, incorrect illustrations, etc.) Edits are made.
  • TL questions students on the difference between guessing the moral of an author’s previously published fable versus creating their own fable with a moral. Is it easier or more difficult? Will having created their own fable and moral help them figure out other morals? Review the key questions on form, function, connection, and reflection again to sense students’ better understanding.



Examples of our fables can be viewed at

Art teacher
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Presented By: Lucretia Miller
Collaborative: Art teacher
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