First Grade - Literature - Overview - March

Animals are definitely the topic for this month in Language Arts and Science. Be sure to take time to see how the lessons can be fit together to make a more complete study. Home and habitat together make a thread that winds through the sayings, poems and stories to connect them to the science.

You may wish to tell the students that animals are the focus for the month. Tell them that they will learn factual things about animals, but they will also have some fun with some stories that are written about animals whose behaviors seem very human.

Provide as many books about animals as possible for the students to read. Take some time to discuss the classifications of fiction and non-fiction. Encourage the students to consider in which area a book belongs whenever they are reading. Help them to see that some books contain elements of both.

Introduce the saying "there's no place like home" after you have completed the lesson on The Tale of Peter Rabbit. You will also wish to connect this lesson to the habitat Science Lessons 32-35.

Note that a performance task complements Lesson 15 - The Frog. Be sure to follow the sequence of that lesson in order to prepare your students for the performance task.


First Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - March

Let the cat out of the bag.

Ask the students if they have ever accidentally told a secret. Suggest that they might have told about a surprise party or gift. Tell them that when someone tells a secret or surprise we say that they have let the cat out of the bag. Explain that while this may seem like a funny thing to say today, it comes from something that happened a long time ago.

Tell the students that many years ago a person selling a small animal would put it in a bag when it was sold so that the buyer could carry it more easily. A young pig or a chicken could be put in a bag. Explain that pigs and chickens were valuable animals to raise for food. Animals that were not eaten or used for work were not considered to be valuable.

Tell the students that sometimes the person selling the pig or the chicken would try to trick the buyer. They would put a cat in the bag instead. Ask: Do you think the buyer would be happy when he got home and found a cat instead of the pig or chicken he had purchased? (no, a cat was not considered to be valuable)

Sometimes another person watching the sale might see the seller put a cat in the bag instead of the pig or the chicken. That person might open the bag and tell the buyer that he was being tricked. He would let the cat out of the bag.



First Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - March

There's no place like home.

Ask the students if they have ever heard the saying There's no place like home before. Some may recall the lines Dorothy says in The Wizard of Oz as she leaves Oz and returns home to Kansas. Ask the students to tell what they think the saying means.

Discuss that our home is the place where we live. It is the place we know best. It can be more than just the building that we call our house, it is the area around that building as well. Our home is where we feel comfortable; we are familiar with the surroundings and the people who live there and nearby, and they are familiar with us. Tell the children that sometimes people will say that Baltimore is their home. That means the city they come from, the place where they live. Sometimes they name the neighborhood as their home too.

Remind the children of Peter Rabbit and his escapade when he ventured in Mr. McGregor's garden. Ask how Peter felt when he finally got home. (relieved, safe) What did he do? (went to sleep) Ask the students if they can recall a time when they were happy to get home. Ask them to tell some things that they can do at home that they would not do anywhere else.

Suggested Books

Tejima, Keizaburo. Ho-limlim--A Rabbit Tale from Japan. New York: Philomel Books, 1990.

Beautiful tale told by an aging rabbit whose eyes have begun to play tricks on him. Wonderful repetition and onomatopoeia: unique woodcut illustrations.

Tell the children that you would like to share a story about another rabbit. Read Ho-LimLim--A Rabbit Tale from Japan. After reading, ask the students to tell why Ho-LimLim was happy to be home. Was he happy to be home for the same reasons Peter was? How are the two rabbits alike? (curious) How are they different? (age, wisdom, physical abilities)

Hoberman, Mary Ann. A House is a House for Me. New York: Viking, 1978.

Homes of various animals are identified in catchy verse.

Share this book now, or use it as part of the science lessons. When you do choose to read it remind the students of the saying there's no place like home. You may even wish to spend a few minutes having the students name some animals in each habitat and think about how those animals' houses would fit there.

A pond is a home for a _____________. (frog, fish, snake)

A forest is a home for a _____________. (squirrel, raccoon, bear, chipmunk, deer)

A desert is a home for a _____________. (lizard, snake, scorpion)

A prairie is a home for a _____________. (prairie dog, buffalo, wolf)


First Grade - Poetry - Lesson 15 - The Frog


Listen to a poem for enjoyment.

Brainstorm words associated with frogs.

Persuade someone that frogs are interesting and make good pets. (Performance task)


Pictures, figurines or toys that show a variety of frogs

Books or stories with frogs as characters

Suggested Books

Cole, Joanna, selected by. A New Treasury of Children's Poetry: Old Favorites and New Discoveries. New York: Doubleday, 1984.

Great anthology of more than 200 poems.

Teacher Background

This lesson, as with all poetry lessons, is intended to provide the students with a greater exposure to different types of poetry and writing styles of poets. Do not feel that you need to do the activity that is included, just be sure that you read the poem to the students and discuss Belloc's humor.

A performance task that has the students writing a letter recommending frogs as pets, accompanies this lesson. The webbing activity about frogs included in this lesson, should be saved for use with the task. If you decide not to use the task, you may do the webbing activity or you may wish to simply read and enjoy the poem.


Begin this lesson by reading the poem. Tell the students the title and author and begin.

The Frog

Be kind and tender to the Frog

And do not call him names,

As "Slimy-skin," or "Polly-wog,"

Or likewise "Ugly James,"

Or "Gap-a-grin," or "Toad-gone-wrong,"

Or "Bill Bandy-knees":

The Frog is justly sensitive

To epithets like these.

No animal will more repay

A treatment kind and fair

At least so lonely people say

Who keep a frog (and, by the way,

They are extremely rare).

Hilaire Belloc


First Grade - Poetry - Lesson 15 - The Frog

Take a moment to explain any vocabulary words that may be unfamiliar such as sensitive, epithets, repay and treatment. After you are certain that the students understand the vocabulary, reread the poem.

After rereading the poem, ask the students if they think the poet was being serious, or was teasing with his poem. Ask: Do you think that the poet likes frogs? Do you think that he would ever choose a frog as a pet? Have you ever had a frog as a pet? Does the poet think that frogs are beautiful? Would you choose the word beautiful to describe frogs? Why or why not?

While you show them some photographs and illustrations of different kinds of frogs ask the students to think about everything they know about frogs. You may also wish to share frog figurines or toys if you have them.

Write the word frog in the center of a piece of chart paper, or draw a picture of one. Ask the students to brainstorm words that describe the way a frog looks. Extend a line from the frog and draw a lily pad; write the word looks in it. Web frog descriptors from the lily pad. Possible responses are green, slimy, slippery, wet, pop-eyed, web footed, long tongued, etc.

Add lily pads titled sounds, movement, habitat, food, and stories. Stories should include any where frogs are characters, or are mentioned as in The Frog Prince, Sleeping Beauty, Frog and Toad are Friends, etc.

When you have completed this exercise, the students should be able to see how very much they know about frogs. They should be able to put several fact sentences together and tell about frogs. (The web that the students completed should be saved for use with the performance task.)

If you did not make the frog puppets suggested in The Frog Prince lesson you could certainly have the students make them now, or if you did and they are still in the classroom, you could let the children hold them during a rereading of the poem.

You may also wish to share some other of Hilaire Belloc's poems.


First Grade - Poetry - Lesson 16 - The Pasture


Identify the repetition of the last line of the stanza.

Together as a class, write another stanza for the poem.

Illustrate the stanza written by the class.


Copy of the poem on chart paper or overhead transparency

Manila paper, crayons, markers

Lined paper for writing the stanza

Suggested Books

Childcraft--The How and Why Library. Poems and Rhymes. Chicago: World Book, 1982.

Teacher Background

The study of this poem in the spring is especially appropriate. The invitation that Frost extends, reinforces the curiosity we feel about growth and renewal at this time of year. Nature beckons us outdoors and we put away our winter things and prepare for the warmth and rebirth of spring.

In science this month students explore habitat. You may wish to incorporate this poem with that study. Be sure that the students know that animals being kept in a pasture are actually being given the things that are part of a habitat. The natural dwellers within the pasture would be the worms and insects that live on and in the ground, and the burrowing animals that live underground.



Tell the students that the name of the poem that you will be reading is called The Pasture. Ask if anyone can describe a pasture (grassy area where animals graze, may or may not be enclosed with a fence, may have a spring, stream or pond). Explain that animals such as sheep, goats, cows and horses may graze in a pasture. By eating the grasses and plants that grow there, they keep the pasture from having to be mowed or cut.

Tell the students to listen carefully to the poem. Read the poem.

The Pasture

I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;

I'll only stop to rake the leaves away

(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):

I sha'n't be gone long.--You come too.

I'm going to fetch the little calf

That's standing by the mother. It's so young,

It totters when she licks it with her tongue.

I sha'n't be gone long.--You come too.

Robert Frost


First Grade - Poetry - Lesson 16 - The Pasture

Ask the students if they can explain the meaning of "I sha'n't be gone long." Ask how many knew that it meant "I won't be gone long" when they heard it in the poem. Explain that sha'n't is a shortened way of saying "I shall not," and that shall is an old way of saying will. Tell the students that the poet, Robert Frost, was trying to make the poem sound as though an old New England farmer was speaking. Remind the students that poets and authors often write pretending to be someone else.

Be certain that the students understand that the spring mentioned in the poem refers to water that comes up from the ground, and not the season of the year. Also, have a volunteer give the meaning of fetch and totters. If the students have difficulty, be sure to clarify the meanings. Ask: What is the person in the poem doing? (cleaning the leaves from the spring, bringing back a little calf) List the students responses on the board. Ask them to think about other things someone who owns a pasture might need to do (fix a broken fence around the pasture, bring in a newborn lamb or foal, move the animals to another pasture). List these ideas on the board also.

Display the poem. Ask if anyone noticed anything about the form of the poem. Say: This poem has two groups of lines. Each of these groups is called a stanza. (Point to each.) Something is the same about the two stanzas, can anyone tell what that is? (The last line of each stanza is the same.) Ask the students why they think the poet did that. What is he telling us to do? (You come too.)

Tell the children that together you will be writing another stanza for the poem, and since the poet, Robert Frost, ended the stanza this way you will do the same thing. Say: We are going to write another stanza for this poem and our last line will be "I sha'n't be gone long.--You come too."

Ask the students how their stanzas should begin and point to the words "I'm going" in each first line. Say: What should come next? What ideas did we have about what this person must do? List their possible first lines.

I'm going to fix the broken fence

I'm going to bring in the newborn lamb

I'm going to bring in the newborn foal

I'm going to move the animals out

Select one of their suggested first lines and ask the students to think about why the person would have to be doing that job. Together write two more lines explaining. (possible lines below)

I'm going to fix the broken fence.

The snows have bent and crumbled it;

The animals will leave.

I sha'n't be gone long.--You come too.

I'm going to bring in the newborn lamb;

Its legs are wobbly and it is cold.

The barn is a better home right now,

I sha'n't be gone long.--You come too.


First Grade - Poetry - Lesson 16 - The Pasture

I'm going to move the animals out,

The pasture is too low to eat.

Another pasture will be fine.

I sha'n't be gone long.--You come too.

When you have completed the stanza (or stanzas, if you feel so inclined) have the children recite it with you. Have them copy the last line of the stanza (or the entire stanza, if your students are able). Attach this line or lines to drawings that the students make, illustrating the stanza.

You may also wish to read other poems by Robert Frost to the students. Discuss the way Frost incorporates nature into his poems and the way he helps the reader to "see" what he is talking about in the poem.


First Grade - Poetry - Lesson 17 - I Know All the Sounds the Animals Make


Explain what makes the poem humorous.

Imitate the various animals and sounds named in the poem.

Match the correct animals to the sounds they make.



Copy of the poem

Chart or transparency (master included)


Suggested Books

Prelutsky, Jack. Something Big Has Been Here. New York: Scholastic, 1990.

Great collection with illustrations by James Stevenson; includes "I Know..."

Copycat Magazine Vol. 9, Number 1, Sept/Oct 1993, "Prelutsky and Poetry."

Additional Books

Prelutsky, Jack. The Baby Uggs are Hatching. New York: Greenwillow, 1982.

________. Beneath a Blue Umbrella. New York: Greenwillow, 1990.

________. My Parents Think I'm Sleeping. New York: Greenwillow, 1985.

________. The New Kid on the Block. New York: Greenwillow, 1984.

________. Ride a Purple Pelican. New York: Greenwillow, 1986.

________. Rolling Harvey Down the Hill. New York: Greenwillow, 1980.

________. The Queen of Eene. New York: Greenwillow, 1978.

________. Tyrannosaurus Was a Beast. New York: Greenwillow, 1988.

Audio - Listening Library (Old Greenwich, CT) Audio Cassettes

"The Dragons are Singing Tonight" LL168

"New Kid on the Block" LL115

"Ride a Purple Pelican" LL131

"Rolling Harvey Down the Hill" LL167

"Something Big Has Been Here" LL147


Meet the Authors Series (Delta) Jack Prelutsky. T6-220-8139

Teacher Background

This lesson is intended to provide the students with more exposure to the variety of poems and poets. You may wish to simply read this poem along with others by Jack Prelutsky and discuss the humor that is a part of his poetry. There are activities provided, but the essential aspect of the lesson is exposure to poetry.

It would be best to do the sound and movement activity in an open space. If possible, have the students move to an open area in the classroom, or at least stand in back of their desks with the chairs pushed in.



First Grade - Poetry - Lesson 17 - I Know All the Sounds the Animals Make


Introduce the poem by asking the students to imitate the sounds that various animals make. Ask: What sound does a cow make? (moo) What sound does a duck make? (quack) Continue to ask the students to tell the sounds of several other animals.

Tell the students that the poem you are about to read is called I Know All the Sounds the Animals Make. Suggest that the poet, Jack Prelutsky, is saying that the speaker of the poem

knows quite a lot. Tell the students to listen to the poem and see how many animal sounds the speaker really knows. Read the poem exaggerating the names of the animals who supposedly produce the sounds.

I Know All the Sounds the Animals Make

I know all the sounds the animals make

and make them all day from the moment I wake,

I roar like a mouse and I purr like a moose,

I hoot like a duck and I moo like a goose.

I squeak like a cat and I quack like a frog,

I oink like a bear and I honk like a hog,

I croak like a cow and I bark like a bee,

no wonder the animals marvel at me.

Ask the students if the person speaking really does know all the sounds. Ask: Why do you think he said them this way? (to make the poem funny) Would this be a funny poem if he gave all the correct sounds? (no)

Tell the students that you would like to have them participate in the recitation of the poem as you read it again. Tell them that they may make the actual sound after you say it (e.g. roar [ROAR]), and imitate the animal you name (e.g. mouse-draw arms up to chest, hunch shoulders to make body look small). Read the poem again, this time pausing to allow the students to participate. Displaying the poem and pointing to the animal sounds and names would be helpful.

Ask if the students think that it is possible that the animals and sounds are simply confused. Using a chart or an overhead transparency (master provided), have the students identify the correct animals for each of the sounds listed.

You may wish to read other selections by Jack Prelutsky or listen to or watch him performing his poetry.


First Grade - Poetry - Lesson 17 - I Know All the Sounds the Animals Make

roar like a ______________________________________

purr like a ______________________________________


hoot like a ______________________________________


moo like a ______________________________________

squeak like a ____________________________________

quack like a _____________________________________

oink like a ______________________________________

honk like a ______________________________________

croak like a ______________________________________

bark like a _______________________________________


First Grade - Literature - The Tale of Peter Rabbit


Tell how the animals in the story are like people.

Suggested Books

Potter, Beatrix. The Tale of Peter Rabbit. London: Frederick Warne & Co., 1902.

A beautiful book; the students will be delighted by the story of a naughty rabbit in a book just the right size to fit in their hands.

Copycat Magazine Volume 9, Number 4, Mar/Apr 1994. "Peter Rabbit Theater."

Contains patterns for making puppets to retell the tale.

Optional Book

Barrett, Judi. Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing. New York: Macmillan, 1970.

Additional Books by Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin

The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse

The Tailor of Gloucester

The Tale of Mr. Tod

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

The Tale of Pigling Bland Pudding

The Tale of Two Bad Mice

The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or The Roly-Poly

The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle

The Tale of Jeremy Fisher

The Tale of The Pie and The Patty-Pan

The Tale of Tom Kitten

The Tale of Ginger and Pickles

The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck

The Tale of Little Pig Robinson

The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies

The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit

The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse

The Story of Miss Moppet

The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes

Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes

Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes

Teacher Reference

Collins, David R. The Country Artist: A Story about Beatrix Potter. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 1989.

Frevert, Patricia Dendtler. Beatrix Potter: Children's Storyteller. Mankato: Creative Education, Inc., 1981.

Teacher Background

Many students may already be familiar with the Beatrix Potter characters that have been reproduced as stuffed toys, figurines, puppets, layette wear, and many other items. If possible, bring in several of Potter's books (and other items with Potter's illustrations that you may have). They are the perfect size for children to hold, and even if your students cannot read them independently, they are sure to enjoy the wonderful illustrations.

Beatrix Potter was born in England in 1866 and lived in England all her life (find on a world map). When she was a child her parents spent very little time with her and made her stay at home with Nurse McKenzie. Beatrix ate her meals alone in her room and hardly ever went away from the house. She didn't even get to go out to school because in those days girls who came


First Grade - Literature - The Tale of Peter Rabbit

from wealthy families were taught at home. During holidays in Scotland she had a chance to be in the countryside.

Nurse McKenzie; Miss Hammond, the governess; and other people who worked for the Potter family became Beatrix's best friends. They told her wonderful stories, presented her with the animals she cared for and loved, and encouraged her to draw and paint.

Her brother Bertram was born when she was almost six and he grew up with the same curiosity about all wonderful things of nature.

Beatrix's first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, started out as a picture-letter that the grown-up Beatrix sent to a sick child. One of Beatrix's friends convinced her to make it into a small book. Beatrix herself paid to have the book printed, and after it was so well received, continued to write her little books.

In Beatrix Potter's adult life she was able to do some of the things that she could not do as a child. She could spend time out of doors close to nature. When she was in her thirties she bought her own farm, which she named Hill Top, and there she raised sheep, pigs, cows and chickens.

Beatrix married a lawyer named William Heelis when she was forty-seven. Together they lived on her wonderful farm where she continued to write and add ten more books to her collection.



Share the biographical information about Beatrix Potter with the students. You may wish to show some of the photographs that are included in the Frevert biography. The students may be interested to know that Beatrix Potter's curiosity about and love of animals began when she was just a little girl. Say: The animal characters that Beatrix wrote about were the pets that lived in the third floor nursery and some animals she saw at Hill Top Farm.

Tell the students that Beatrix used her imagination while she watched animals. She gave the animals names and pretended that they had lives the way people do. In her drawings Beatrix put clothes on the animals and sometimes had them live in houses. She even pretended that they talked! Ask the students if they have ever dressed their cat or dog in clothes or pretended that it could talk.

Remind the students that The Tale of Peter Rabbit is the first book that Beatrix Potter had published. Be sure they recall that the word tale in the title means story.

Say to the students: Remember that Beatrix Potter pretended the animals in her stories could act as though they were people. Listen to The Tale of Peter Rabbit to see how she did that. Tell the children that when you have finished the story they can tell the examples they heard.

Read the story to the class, taking time to share the illustrations. When you have finished, ask the children to tell the events in the story when the animals acted as if they were people.

Some responses might be that the animals talked, Mother Rabbit warned her children about the garden, the rabbits wore clothes, and Mother Rabbit cooked for her family.

Discuss the examples and also talk about Peter's rabbit behavior in the garden. Ask: When did Peter behave most like a rabbit? (when he got into trouble) To be sure that the students fully understand Mr. McGregor's behavior, ask why he would be so angry about a rabbit being in the garden.


First Grade - Literature - The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Ask the students to tell why they think Peter went to the garden even though his mother had told him not to go. Do they think Peter was curious and mischevious or was he just disobedient? Can they think of any other character they have read about who went where he should not have? (Pinocchio) Ask the students if they think that Peter and Pinocchio learned important lessons? (yes)

Tell the students to think about the time Peter was almost caught in the garden. Ask: What was he wearing that caused his problems? (shoes and a coat) What do you think about animals wearing clothing? Is it a good idea?

You may wish to share the Judi Barrett book Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing and have a laugh.

Do take the time to read other Beatrix Potter books if your students seem interested.


First Grade - Literature - The Pied Piper


Explain "a promise is a promise" as it pertains to the story.

Make a pattern for the piper (optional).

Make a picture with the piper, the rats and the children.



A wooden flute or recorder, or a picture of either

Classroom size world map or map of Europe

Manila paper, 9x12" and 12x18"

Suggested Books

Bartos-Hoppner, Barbara. The Pied Piper of Hamelin. New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1984.

Beautiful illustrations by Annegert Fuchshuber show much of the town and people.

Bauman, Kurt, retold by. The Pied Piper of Hamelin. New York: Methuen, 1977.

Wonderful illustrations (Jean Clavierie), however vocabulary is difficult.

Chmielarz, Sharon, adapted by. The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Owings Mills: Stemmer House, 1990.

Great art work by Pat and Robin DeWitt; the text is simple and sparse.

Diamond, Donna, retold and illus. by. The Pied Piper of Hamelin. New York: Holiday House, 1981.

Good retelling that contains lovely pen and ink illustrations, not large enough to been seen well if used as read aloud with a large group.

Lemieux, Michele, retold and illus. by. The Pied Piper of Hamelin. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1993.

Full-page color illustrations enhance the tale.

Mayer, Mercer, retold and illus. by. The Pied Piper of Hamelin. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1987.

Full-page illustrations, one for every page of text.

Teacher Background

If possible, show the students several versions of the story. They will enjoy the interpretations by the different illustrators, and they will be able to see similarities. They may enjoy looking at the town, the people, and the rats as much as they enjoy hearing the story.

Of course, all the versions suggested are based on Robert Browning's poem. It is not recommended that you read the poem to the students, as the vocabulary and verse are quite difficult for children to understand.



Tell the students that the story you are going to read is called The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Ask how many students know what a piper is, and what instrument he or she plays. Explain, if necessary, that a piper plays a wooden flute-like instrument held in front and not to the side. Tell the students that it is like a recorder and show the instrument or a picture of it.

Tell the students that the word pied in the title means many-colored and it refers to the clothing that the piper wears. Explain that it might mean several colors in a pattern on the fabric or several colors in one piece of clothing.

Have a student go to the map and locate the continent of Europe. Then ask the student to


First Grade - Literature - The Pied Piper

locate Germany; explain that Hamelin (Hameln) is a city in Germany. Tell the students that Germany is a very old country and this story is supposed to have happened there over seven hundred years ago. Explain that as they will see in the illustrations, Hamelin town and its people looked very different from the way they do today.

Tell the students that the people of the town of Hamelin hired a piper for a very important job. Ask them if they can tell what the people might want a piper to do. If anyone knows, allow that person to share only that information; if they do not know, tell the students that it was to get rid of rats.

Without further discussion, read the story taking time to share the illustrations.

When you have completed the story, ask the students if they think that what the piper did was fair. (Some versions explain that the piper wished to punish the adults and not the children.) Do the students think what the townspeople did was fair? Ask: What does "a promise is a promise" mean? Who broke a promise? Was there a good reason?

Ask the students if they think this was a true story. Have them tell why it could not have been true, but allow students who might wish to argue, to tell the parts that could have been true. Ask the students if they think that the people of the town could have lived happily ever after with the piper if they had paid him?


First Grade - Literature - The Pied Piper

Optional Activities

Create a color pattern for the piper's clothes.

Provide the students with manila paper that has a diamond pattern printed on it, or have the students fold the paper into sixteenths, and color the diamond or rectangular sections. Be sure to talk about the repetition in a pattern, and demonstrate the variety of ways it can occur.

Draw the piper and the rats and the piper and the children.

1. Divide a sheet of 12x18" paper into thirds.

2. In the first third draw a picture of the pied piper playing his flute.

3. Fold over the final third (on the right) and draw and color the rats on the outside.

4. On the remaining interior two-thirds, draw and color the children.

5. The completed picture should show the piper and the rats, then when it is opened, should show the piper and the children.


First Grade - Literature - The Pied Piper


First Grade - Literature -Tales of Brer Rabbit


Identify Brer Rabbit as a trickster.

Recognize the qualities of a storyteller.


Copy of one of the suggested books

Suggested Books

Lester, Julius. The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit. New York: Dial Books, 1987.

Great combination of Lester's storytelling and Pinkney's illustrations.

________. More Tales of Uncle Remus. New York: Dial Books, 1988.

________. Further Tales of Uncle Remus - The Misadventures of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Wolf, the Doodang, and Other Creatures. New York: Dial Books, 1990.

________. The Last Tales of Uncle Remus. New York: Dial Books, 1994.

Wonderful collections of tales with beautiful illustrations by Jerry Pinkney.

Faulkner, William J. Brer Tiger and the Big Wind. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1995.

Wonderful artwork in this beautiful picture book that tells how Brer Rabbit tricks greedy Brer Tiger.

Parks, Van Dyke and Malcolm Jones, adapted by. Jump! The Adventures of Brer Rabbit. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986.

Parks, Van Dyke, adapted by. Jump On Over! The Adventures of Brer Rabbit and His Family. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989.

Zorn, Steven, retold by. Classic American Folk Tales. Philadelphia: Courage Books, 1992.

"How Brer Rabbit Tricked Brer Fox" is included; colorful illustrations.

Teacher Background

If possible, read for yourself, the foreword by Julius Lester that is included in The Tales of Uncle Remus. Here, Lester captures the essence of what stories and storytelling are about. He points out that the character of Uncle Remus created by Joel Chandler Harris, is not necessary to the telling of the tales. It is the tales themselves that are important to hear.

Lester's retellings are wonderful. He captures the storyteller with the voice of his stories, maintaining respect for the original language while making it possible for the reader and the audience to not be confused trying to decipher the dialect.

Any of the suggested books are good choices. Be careful if you choose another version that you are able to easily read it aloud and your students are able to understand. The original stories by Harris are extremely difficult to read, as are several adaptions.

Students will learn more about the trickster in literature when they read Anansi stories and Iktomi stories in second grade. If you want more information and resources, you may wish to read the article listed below.


Del Negro, Janice M., "Trickster Tales." Book Links, March 1996, pp. 43-47.


First Grade - Literature -Tales of Brer Rabbit


Because different stories are included in the suggested books, there is not one particular story required for this lesson. Read several tales of Brer Rabbit to the students so that they can appreciate Brer Rabbit's cleverness and his wonderful sense of humor.

Take time to explain that the Brer Rabbit stories were originally told by different people. They were collected by one man named Joel Chandler Harris, written down and called the Tales of Uncle Remus (a man who was supposed to be the storyteller) or The Adventures of Brer Rabbit.

You may wish to ask the students what they think the word Brer means. If no one knows, write the word brother on the board and then erase the letters oth. Show that the remaining letters form the word brer. Say: Brer is simply a shortened form of brother. The animals in these stories are considered part of the huge family of people and animals to which we all belong. In these stories, the word brer added to the kind of animal became the animal's name.

Read one of the stories to the students. If it is at all possible, select a version by Julius Lester. Be sure that you have read the story first to gauge the appeal for young readers. You will notice as you read several stories that some are much more appropriate for adults.

After you have finished reading the story (or stories), ask the students if they could hear the storyteller speaking. Be sure that they understand that you are reading the story to them, but that you are reading the words that the storyteller would be saying. Ask the children if they can identify any of the things a storyteller does. Help them to see that the storyteller sets up the story for the audience. The storyteller might tell when or where a story takes place, or the storyteller might just make you curious about the story. The storyteller involves the audience and himself in the story. Tell the students that storytelling like this is almost as if the storyteller was sharing gossip. The story teller is saying, "Let me tell you what happened, you'll never believe it."

The storyteller explains things to the audience so they can understand the story better. Sometimes the storyteller explains who a character is, or why that character acted a certain way. The storyteller relates (or matches) information in the story to things we already know so we feel more a part of the story. Finally, the storyteller becomes part of the story by physical actions and the use of different voices for characters. Remind the students how they may enjoy a particular person reading a story to them rather than another person. Usually some, or all, of the qualities of a storyteller are obvious in that person.

You may wish to read another story after you have discussed storytelling. Try to be as animated as possible when you read this one. Ask the students to tell you what qualities of a storyteller they hear in your reading and in the story.

After you have read several stories, ask students to tell what they think about the characters. Is there a character they particularly like or dislike? What do they think about Brer Rabbit? How does he get out of difficult situations or solve problems?

Explain to the students that Brer Rabbit is called a trickster. He tricks other characters for many reasons. Ask the students if they can recall one of the tricks and the reason or reasons for it.

Choose one of the stories you have read and have the students identify the problem or the reason that Brer Rabbit tricks someone. Then have the students tell the result of the trick. Was Brer Rabbit the only one to benefit from the trick or did the other characters share as well?

Read other Brer Rabbit tales during the upcoming days and each time ask the students to pay particular attention to the storytelling and the tricks.