Aesop's Fables (Jacobs): Storytelling Ideas

You can use any kind of storytelling approach that you want, and there are lots of storytelling strategies here: Storytelling Strategies. Plus, you can probably get more ideas just from browsing the Storytelling Ideas for other reading units.

Sometimes it can help to have some prompts to get started, so here are some prompts for some of the stories in this unit of Aesop's Fables:

First-Person Point of View:
  • What does the "beautiful maiden" in The Lion in Love think about all this? Tell a version of the story from her point of view, maybe talking to her mother or a sister.
  • Tell the story of The Man and His Two Wives as a series of dialogues where each of the three main characters is explaining their situation to someone outside the love triangle (a friend, relative, neighbor, etc.).
Diary Style:
  • Retell the story of The Donkey and the Lapdog as a set of diary entries at the end of the day: what would the diary entry of the donkey say? the diary entry of the farmer? one of the farmer's human servants? and what about the diary of the lapdog? Use the different diary entries to explore different angles of the story.
  • Retell the story of The Fox and the Cat as a pair of diary entries: what would the cat write in a diary entry at the end of that eventful day? and what would the fox write in a diary? (you'll need to have the dogs just attack the fox but not not fatally in order to make a diary entry possible!)
Change One Animal to Another:
  • Retell the story of The Fox and the Stork but use two other animals who are marked by a difference (in food, in habitat, etc.) which allows you to tell a similar story of trick and revenge.
  • Retell the story of The Bat, The Birds, and The Beasts but use a different type of ambiguous animal in your fable, so that the animal's ambiguous identity gives you a different story but with a similar moral.
Change Animals to Humans:
  • Imagine a version of The Fox Without a Tail that is instead about humans, with one human trying to turn a misfortunate into a fashion statement so that other people will go along with it.
  • Tell the story of the stag and its reflection as a human story about a person who mistakes their strength for a weakness and vice versa.
Combine Stories in a Chain:
  • Tell a big "fox fable" where you combine several of the stories with foxes (here are foxes and more foxes) in a chain of events, where one story leads to the next. (This would work for any of the animals - fox, lion, donkey - that appears in multiple fables.)
  • Create a chain that leads from one animal to the next: for example, retell the The Lion and the Mouse, and then have that mouse be a character in Belling the Cat, and then transition into another fable about a cat, and so on.
Prequel or Sequel:
  • Write a prequel to the story of The Two Pots. How did they get to be friends? How did they end up being left on the bank of that river? Did they have some warning beforehand how dangerous their friendship might be?
  • Write a sequel to The Wolf and the Lamb OR The Wolf and the Crane OR The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (or some other fable which involves injustice) in which the wolf (or other bad guy) finally does pay a price for his wicked deeds; you can see the wolf stories here.
  • Develop the story of The Ass and the Horse in greater detail, with back-and-forth dialogue between the two animals in the first encounter (when the donkey envies the horse) and in the second encounter (so the poor horse could have a little conversation with the donkey before he dies).
  • Imagine a version of The Lion and the Oxen where it is the lion himself who says things to make the oxen quarrel with each other: just what kind of conversations could the lion have with each of the oxen to get them all riled up?
  • Adapt the story of The Trumpeter during war-time to a modern story: what modern profession could be comparable to that of the trumpeter in the fable?
  • Write a version of The Milkmaid, but about a college student instead.
Specific Genres:
  • Write up the story of The Tortoise and the Hare as a sports story, using all the jargon and hyperbolic style of the typical sports reporter.
  • Imagine a mother or father or some other storyteller using the story of The Peacock and Juno as a bedtime story to teach a child about being content with one's own gifts. Make sure to include lots of details that would grab a child's attention, along with explaining everything clearly in a way that a child will understand.
Detail Detail Detail:
  • Pick a story and retell it so that you develop the physical setting in detail, like the swamp of The Frogs Desiring a King for example, using all the sensory dimensions you can.
  • Pick one of the Walter Crane illustrations for any of the fables (you can see larger views in book view at ICDL), and write a story in which you include specific details from the illustration. For example, Cupid shows up in the illustration for The Lion in Love!

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