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The Mountain and the Mouse

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By Celia Warren— poet and author

This leaflet is a retelling of the Aesop’s fable with the moral: You shouldn’t shout and bawl over something so small.

These teachers’ notes accompany the PRINT ONLY guided reading leaflet in Literacy Time PLUS for ages 7 to 9 January 2008

Previous learning

Children should be aware of what a fable is; how it teaches a moral precept through a story. They will ideally have encountered previous Aesop fables and will recognise sayings that stem from these.

Key learning outcomes:

To explore how different types of text appeal;

To explain how writers use figurative and expressive language;

To use imaginative and descriptive language and vocabulary;

To write narratives;

To summarise evidence from a text and offer qualified reasons for views.

Before reading

  • Ask if the children recognise some common sayings that have their roots in Aesop’s fables, such as: Slow and steady wins the race (The hare and the tortoise); Kindness works better than force (The sun and the wind).
  • Remind the children of the form and purpose of similes, (refer to Poster 2, How to.. write similes in Literacy Time for Ages 7 to 9 January 2008). Explain that there are many similes in this story.
  • List features that we might expect to find in such a story – eg, a beginning, middle and end within plot development; a number of characters; paragraphs; direct speech; some descriptive passages.

During reading

  • Ask the children to read the first two paragraphs and describe the setting and main characters in the story. To which part of the title does the story relate at this stage?
  • As they continue reading, invite children to underline similes as they come across them. Discuss what effect these figurative phrases have on the description. Which do they recognise as traditional; which as new? Are the new ones specific to the story content?
  • Remind children to use context to discern the meaning of unfamiliar words: hamlet (a tiny village); parasol (shade against the sun); agonising (extremely painful).
  • Challenge the children to find the slang word used by a villager to describe the commotion towards the end of the story (kerfuffle).

Responding

  • Identify the moral of the story. In this version of the fable, it is not written separately at the end, but appears in direct speech within the narrative: You shouldn’t shout and bawl over something so small. Invite children to rewrite the moral in their own words.
  • Explore how the passage of time is indicated through phrases such as Long ago, One morning, Soon, At last. Children can list these time phrases for reference in their own writing.
  • Examine how the mountain is personified, as characters attribute feelings to it and describe noises as its ‘voice’, enabling it to display human emotions and express discomfort. List these under Physical (gruff voice; moaning; groaning; growled; pain; cry) and Mental (grief; misery; anguish; torment; distress).
  • Discuss how direct speech is used to show the gathering impact of events.

Ideas for writing

  • List all the similes, leaving one-line spaces in between. Below each, ask the children to write a new simile. For example, as gloomy as night, might become, as dark as a rain cloud.
  • Invite children to research other Aesop fables and choose one to retell in their own words, with similes.
  • Ask children to write a paragraph explaining if they sympathise with the mountain or not, and why.

Using the activity sheets

  • Using the activity sheet, challenge children to describe a classmate (or a celebrity) using similes – original or traditional. They should write a series of ‘clues’ as to the person’s identity, without giving away too much too soon. Early clues should be broader: She’s as tall as a goalpost. Gradually add further refinement to narrow the choices. She swims like a fish; Her name is like a flower. Listen to these while others try and guess who. Encourage the children to evaluate the success of their writing based on others’ reactions.
  • Use the SAT-style question sheet below from Literacy Time for Ages 7 to 9 January 2008 to practice and to develop comprehension and response skills.

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