Fable: The Tortoise and The Hare to young learners

Most of us once in life read or been told a fable. When I was a child I heard some and then when I could finally read I read others. Fables are fabulous! They have  this power to draw pictures in our minds and feed our imaginary world. Have you ever considered using fables to invite your kids to learn much more than the moral of the story? Much more than simply the language you want them to speak? I have here some suggestions that may help you think about it and possibly put it in your next meeting with you little ones.

There once was a speedy hare who bragged about how fast he could run. Tired of hearing him boast, Slow and Steady, the tortoise, challenged him to a race. All the animals in the forest gathered to watch.

Hare ran down the road for a while and then and paused to rest. He looked back at Slow and Steady and cried out, “How do you expect to win this race when you are walking along at your slow, slow pace?”

Hare stretched himself out alongside the road and fell asleep, thinking, “There is plenty of time to relax.”

Slow and Steady walked and walked. He never, ever stopped until he came to the finish line.

The animals who were watching cheered so loudly for Tortoise, they woke up Hare.

Hare stretched and yawned and began to run again, but it was too late. Tortoise was over the line.

After that, Hare always reminded himself, “Don’t brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!”

from storyarts.com

Ideas and suggestions

The ideas and suggestions below can be adapted to any target language. The goal is always to make reading something that connects significantly with the world of the children; with the things they can see, hear and touch. For a Portuguese language version click here.

Age: 3 to 6 years old. (Read and find out which applies better to your kid’s age)

Appeal: It’s a fable. There are animals as characters. It’s short. There’s humor. There is a twist.

Indoor activities


  • Hangman: animals (tortoise and hare). Before telling or reading the fable with them, let them try to find out what two animals are in the fable by playing a hangman with the words tortoise and hare. This is not supposed to lead to competition.
  • Balloons on the floor: cut the letters of the word tortoise and hare and put them in a balloon. Tell the kids they will have to blow the balloon up and write the names of the animals in the fable by gathering the letters. To be done after reading.
  • Foam and fun: fill in a container with foam and put the letters of the alphabet inside it (letters in plastic, rubber or foam paper). Then let your kids play and find out the letters of the words tortoise and hare. Give them the time of a song or two to complete the task. OR You can also put the animals inside the foam. They first find the animal and then find the letters to make the name of the animal.
  • Shout the adjective: use the main adjectives used in the fable and their opposite (FASTxSLOW, SLEEPYxAWAKEN, NEARxFAR) to play games with the kids. Shout one adjective and let them run to the picture of a tortoise or a hare respectively (the pictures can be fixed on the floor or on the wall). OR  make 2 circles on the floor, put the picture of a tortoise in one and a hare in another and shout one adjective and let the kids run to the circle where they will find the animal with the opposite quality. They will have to shout it back when they arrive there (the opposite adjective).
  • Action verbs: explore the verbs run and walk. ALSO the modal CAN. Ask your kids: can you can fast? Let them ask others around.

Letters and sounds: the alphabet

  • Consonants T and H – use modeling clay to let your kids play of making letters. Give them a stick and the clay and a print with the letter you want them to make. They can also ‘sculpt’ the letter and put beside the picture of the animal (you should provide the picture).

Vowel O and E – give modeling clay to the kids and sing the letter you want them to build, sculpt, and write it slowly on the board or show it in a card. Let them take their time to do it. OR just follow the example in the picture.


  • 1 to 4: print the picture of the animals and make a poster with them distributed in quantities of 1 to 4. Example: put 2 hares, 3 tortoises, 1 tortoise, 4 hares… Give sticks to the kids and let them place the right amount of sticks accordingly to how many animals they see.
  • legs: ask them how many animals with 2 legs they know. How many animals with 4 legs? They will have fun trying to figure it out. Give them some rubber animals, those usually found in department store and help them count their legs. Make sure you have at least a rooster or a bird among them.


  • warm colors and cold colors: which animal in the illustration has a cold color? Which has a warm one? Let your kids know about the color wheel. Put a cold picture and a hot picture on the floor and invite them to place their crayons in the right picture according to their colors. OR give them a colored picture of the animals and a version to be colored. Let them color the animals.
  • Color and cut: just give them the chance to color and cut the activity in the picture taken from here.

Drawings and shapes

  • Guess the drawing: surprise your kids with your drawing talent. Let them do the same. Click here to follow a model. Or here. It’s great to be done as a pre-reading or listening to the story.


  • animal vs animal: are rabbits and hare the same thing? (click here to find it out). What about turtle and tortoise? Find it here. Let your kids guess and help them find out the answer. They will be surprised.


  • mammals vs reptiles: what are tortoise and hare? Ask them if they know the difference between mammals and reptiles. Give modeling clay to your kids so they can ‘sculpt’ their favorite mammals and reptiles. OR put as many rubber animals on the floor as you can, put the kids in a circle around it and ask them to pick the mammals and the reptiles. After that they play with the modeling clay to make their favorite animals.


  • home sweet home: where do hares live? and tortoises and turtles? What other animals can you find there where they live? Let your kids tell you what they know.


  • My reality: get your kids to visit the zoo and find other slow and fast animals.
  • Tell me who? : invite your kids to ask relatives at home or people at school if they have already touched, seen or even eaten a tortoise or a hare. OR ask them to question friends “can you run faster than me? Prove it!” . You know what they’re going to do to find it out ????

On the big screen

  • After telling the story (you can learn how to tell it here) and do some while and post activities with your kids, you can always ask them if they want to see a video of it. There is a good one here. Ask them what other animals they could see.

Beyond the walls

  • It came true: take your kids to the zoo and ask them to find other animal that are slow or fast like the hare and the tortoise.
  • craft: you can also use the outside of the school to make the craft in the pictures with the kids. You can find the steps here.

 From old times: to run and laugh

  • *The blind hare (or cabra cega in Brazil): a group of kids (minimum 4) gives hands and forms a circle.The blind hare (any of the kids) is chosen and will be in the center of the circle. The one chosen to be the blind hare is blindfolded and one person will turn him or her 25 times. Yes he/she will be a bit dizzy. The function of the blind hare is to get a person from the circle, that will be always in movement, and say his or her name. Remember that at no time can the circle kids drop their hands. The person touched by the blind hare has to let the blind hare touch his/her face, arms and legs. If the blind hare misses the name of the person, the game continues with the same person as the hare. Whoever is caught and told the name is the new blind hare.
*Adapted from Brazilian circle time games in the blog jogos e brincadeiras


Anytime you tell or read a story to the kids, remember you should have some pre, while and post-steps. Things to do or say before telling the story so they get motivated to listen or read it; things to do or say while telling the story so they can show they are connecting to it; and things to do or say after telling the story, so they can have some fun. I will talk more about this in a next post.

Incredible sites and works that will help you use FABLES to teach young learners.

This is it! Read to and with your kids.