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Aesop’s Fables Year 1 style

What is a fable? Just ask Ms Christofa’s Year 1 students, who recently finished writing and creating their own fables, videoing their own dramatic performances for their peers to enjoy!

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When someone says the word fable, most of us immediately think of Aesop and possibly have a flashback to some of his classic fables like The Tortoise and the Hare. Fables are a type of folk story that have been passed down through generations of retelling. Classic fables are not only highly entertaining, but they also play an important role in highlighting and demonstrating character traits, communicating a shared history, reinforcing a culture's values and calling attention to important traditions.

Ms Christofa’s Year 1 students have just finished their latest PYP unit of inquiry into ‘How We Express Ourselves’. The students researched the central idea: Morals can be expressed through fables using the dramatic arts. They explored the following lines of inquiry: Morals are important. Fables are used as a form of communication. Ideas and feelings can be expressed through the dramatic arts.

To kickstart their unit of inquiry, Ms Christofa read three different stories to Year 1. The students then discussed the three texts and concluded that all three were fables because they all had a moral to impart. They thought about different ways that fables are told, from oral stories, to comic strips, to animation, to puppet shows. They then had a deeper discussion around the form and function of fables. They decided that fables clearly help us to see human shortcomings and gain a better understanding of our immediate surroundings, as well as the people, behaviours and situations we may encounter. When we see the consequences of poor decisions in a fable, it also helps us to develop a better understanding of how to handle challenging circumstances and possibly apply those lessons in our own lives.

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Year 1 then went into Breakout rooms to discuss what they would do in different moral dilemmas. Drawing on the PYP learner profile of being principled, the students had to consider what they would do if, for example, they came across a bag of unwrapped birthday presents, or they were given too much change at the shops. Students sorted each moral into a different category, including good character, relationships and safety. Ms Christofa then asked them to consider which moral was most important to them and why. Then then came back together as a class to reflect on their observations.

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Having clarified that fables help us to learn about other cultures, model character traits, appreciate other traditions, explore new ways of seeing the world and discover a love of stories, Ms Christofa asked Year 1 to choose a moral and write their own fable, using the Seven Steps of Writing Success as a guide. After writing each paragraph, Ms Christofa encouraged the students to read over it, thinking about different ways they could improve it: using the five senses, showing not telling, thinking about their characters’ feelings, action, dialogue and tension.

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Students then explored the different forms of dramatic arts and thought carefully about the elements of drama, particularly the perspective of each character in their fable as well as how to express the idea of the moral and feelings of each character in order to teach the audience the lesson.

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Finally, Year 1 used their fable to create and video their own dramatic performance. They had to use their self-management skills to work out how to operate video software, as well as their social skills to direct a family member to play different roles if needed. Year 1 also showed that they were risk-takers by sharing their dramatic performance with their classmates.

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This unit of inquiry has taught Year 1 that sharing fables is fun! Even though fables are intended to model a moral lesson, they're also meant to be humorous, with whimsical characters and plots that are clever and witty. As they have discovered, if fables weren't so engaging, they wouldn't have survived hundreds and in some cases thousands of years!