"The Fox and the Goat": A Lesson on Aesop's Fable

This lesson provides students with an opportunity to learn about the characters in a fable by investigating their respective character traits.

Students will:

  • investigate characters by noticing what they think, say, and do.
  • explore characters by noticing how other characters treat them or by what other characters think and say about them.
  • use story details to understand the characters in a fable.

This lesson can be divided into two or three smaller lessons, each lasting about 15-20 minutes.


1. Introduce key vocabulary: brazen, clambered, hasty, hesitation, predicament, unnecessary. Ask students to complete the Vocabulary Worksheet.
2. Ask students how we can know whether or not a person is kind. Discuss ways to learn about and assess someone's character traits.
3. Remind students that the people and animals in stories are called characters.

Tell students we can learn about characters by noticing:

    • what they think, say, and do.
    • how other characters treat them or what other characters think or say about them.

    4. Explain that understanding the characters and why they do things can help us understand a story better.
    5. Distribute the Character Traits Chart. Review the clues used to assess character on the chart.
    6. Instruct students to read the fable The Fox and the Goat. Have students fill in the Character Traits Chart with information about the fox, using details from the story.
    7. Discuss what the story shows about the fox character.
    8. Repeat, this time assessing the character of the goat.
    9. Independently or in small groups, students can predict how the fox and the goat might behave in the situations below. Ask them to back up their predictions with evidence about the characters.

      • What if a hungry coyote cornered them?
      • What if they ran into a lost donkey with a load of corn?
      • What if the fox fell into the well again?


    • Have students convey what a person's character traits are by writing about his or her actions rather than using description alone.
    • Students should be able to:
      • make reasonable predictions about characters' actions based on information in the story.
      • draw sensible conclusions about characters from what other characters say, think, and do.
      • draw sensible conclusions about characters from their thoughts, words, and actions.
      • use story details to discriminate what characters think, say, and do.
      • know that characters are people and animals in stories.


    • Have the class brainstorm a master list of character traits (for example, kind, brave, daring, foolish) and record the traits on the board. Challenge students to name people and characters who display those traits. Ask them to back up their choices with examples.
    • Referring to the same list of character traits, and adding other details, play a guessing game. Provide clues about well-known people or characters and challenge students to guess their identities. For example, if the character is Tarzan, you might begin with this:
      I am brave and strong. I don't have a big vocabulary, but I am great at communicating with animals. I can be very kind and gentle. I live in the jungle.
    • Add more clues until students guess the mystery character.
    • Other possible characters: Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Peter Pan, King Kong, Harry Potter


    • Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions of human experience.
    • Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, and identification strategies.
    • Students use a variety of technological and information resources to gather and synthesize information and to communicate knowledge.

    Use a lesson that provides students with an opportunity to learn about the characters in a fable by investigating their respective character traits.

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