Whootie Owl’s Stories to Grow by: The very best kids short stories and reader’s theater scripts, audio stories, teacher’s resource guides and much more! This blog will share articles about our stories and reader’s theater scripts linked to themes and suggestions for use to leave a lasting impression on your students and children. Our stories are KID-TESTED AND ALL HAVE POSITIVE MESSAGES!
Love Classic Fairy Tales and Folktales? Looking for easy, engaging reads for Children ages 6-10. We are expanding our story collection to now include more Classic tales which continue to have positive morals (and are kid-tested!) for at home and at school. These stories make wonderful additions to classroom curriculum as well as make the perfect Bedtime Stories for your little ones. Love Disney's Frozen? You will adore our adapted version of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" which the Disney move is based on. Looking for a way to present a lesson on Vanity and Foolishness? That it is far better to speak up and stand out then to go along with the crowd? Then you will love "The Emperor's New Clothes". Looking for an enchanting tale of a beloved rabbit whose wish to become Real comes true? Then you will love "The Velveteen Rabbit". Coming soon: Rumplestiltskin, Mulan, Sima Guang & The Broken Vat (A Chinese Folktale) and many more!
Our English Stories for Kids early reader collection consists of classic folktales from all over the world. Folktales (or folk tales) are stories that have been shared from generation to generation by word of mouth. They consist of Fairy Tales (or fairytales), Animal tales and Legends, which you will find here! These Early Reader versions of English Stories are Kid-tested, Multicultural and feature Positive Moral messages. Perfect for leaving a lasting impression on the children in your lives, and stories you will enjoy, too! These easy small short stories for little kids are perfect for English Language Learners (ESL) anywhere and everywhere - for the classroom and at home and for those learning to read. They also make wonderful Bedtime Stories.
The Goblin's Market Lesson Plan: Poetry Analysis for 10th-12th Grade
I am so thrilled to bring you this lesson plan! While I usually don't write about myself, I did want to share a bit of my bio before introducing our new lesson plan. Before being the Director of Stories to Grow by, I was a teacher like most of you! I've taught every grade from 4th-12th, including adults, but my most favorite teaching years were when I taught 10th-12th grade. I taught Career Level, College Prep, Honors and my absolute favorite, 11th & 12th grade Advanced Placement English Literature & Composition. Working on this poetry analysis lesson geared for High School was an absolute pleasure as most of our works are for Elementary & Middle School students. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful for your own classroom. Happy Storytelling!
The Goblin’s Market Lesson Plan
A Spooky Poem for a Poetry Analysis: Grades 10th-12th
Looking for a fun, engaging lesson plan to tie into Halloween while also meeting standards for Poetry Analysis? Our adapted version of The Goblin’s Market by Christina Rossetti is a thrilling poem which not only ties perfectly into an October unit, but also is perfect for a poetry analysis since it contains so many poetic features such as Rhyme, Figurative Language, Symbolism, and more!
Two dear sisters; two different personalities. Sarah is enamored and mesmerized by the goblin’s market and their fruits for sale; Lizzie remembers the cautionary tale of a girl who had eaten the goblins fruit, and is deterred. Lizzie is able to fend off the goblins and their forbidden fruit, while Sarah succumbs to the trickery. Can Lizzie save her once the damage is done? A poem chock full of Themes, Symbolism, Imagery, Figurative language and Allusion (beware the “forbidden fruit”) which could easily springboard this lesson plan into many...this poem is one that will keep your students on their toes while learning valuable skills in analyzing poetry and its much deeper meaning.
This lesson plans meets Common Core Standards for CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL: 10th-12th grade, with strands in Key Ideas & Details, Craft and Structure, and Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (Depending on what your focus is with this poem analysis).
Objectives: Use higher-level thinking skills to analyze a piece of poetry, focusing on poetry elements: Structure, Language, Details and Themes to determine the Author’s Purpose.
Anticipatory Set: Assuming the notion that Good usually prevails over Evil, describe a time in a piece of literature where Evil prevailed, even if only for a bit.
Activities: Students will read The Goblin’s Market Poem first to themselves, then read orally (I like to read myself so students are free to focus on the language and rhythm and taking a second look at some of the poetic elements while I read). It is then time for the analysis. This lesson assumes that students are familiar with the main poetic elements: break the students into groups and give each group 3-4 stanzas. Print out copies of the poem so students can annotate on their paper…groups should identify: Rhyme Scheme, Figurative Language (Most stanzas have examples of Alliteration, Simile, Metaphor), Imagery, Diction, Tone. I like to have each person in a group in charge of each element and then they discuss the findings among the group. Once the groups are complete, I have each group present their part and their findings so students can mark up their own poems. This will assist with the final task: finding the Theme & Author’s purpose of the poem. This leads to the discussion and determination of the Theme of the poem. As a challenge, I would ask the students to also identify the Allusion in the poem (depending on grade and level). Discussing this as a group will help students with the closing task of identifying the Author’s Purpose.
Closing: Explore the Allusion with the class of the “Forbidden Fruit”. Have students return to their groups to define what they think the Author’s Purpose was with this piece. They must include at least three pieces of evidence from the text to support their hypothesis.
Extension: Discuss the layers of the poem. Students should walk away with an understanding that the base layer of the Theme of a piece of work does not always correlate with the deeper meaning of the Author’s Purpose for writing the piece. As an extension activity and to meet common core standards, students could then analyze the Bible passage from Genesis about the forbidden fruit and compare/contrast with this poem.
Fun with Spooky Fairy Tales: Learning How Supporting Characters Develop the Plot
Contribute to the Sequence of Events
Looking for a great story to teach Elementary Students Grades 4th-6th (can use this script with 3rd-8th grade adjusting the activities accordingly) about the importance of supporting characters and their role in the development of the plot? Baba Yaga is a fun spooky story which allows the reader to see how “unique” characters contribute to the sequence of events through their thoughts and actions. A positive message while teaching an important literary skill: this is what you will find in all the Stories to Grow by Stories and Reader’s Theater scripts. This week’s Fun Fairy Tale for Fall is Baba Yaga, a classic Folktale from Russia:
A young girl, Natasha, is sent into the forest by her evil stepmother to retrieve some string from her “aunt”, the horrible witch Baba Yaga. Once Natasha gets to Baba Yaga’s hut, she meets the servants of the witch, who all delight in her kindness. They develop a plan to help Natasha escape, but what is in store for them once she is gone? Do they all live happily ever after or do they face the wrath of the witch? And what of Natasha when she returns home to deal with her step-mother? Read the exciting tale here!
The content of this tale prompt skill-building for the Common Core Standards CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL: 4.3, 4.9, 5.3, 6.3:
Objectives: Describe how characters thoughts, words and actions develop the plot and explain how this contributes to the sequence of events. Analyze different character Points of View. Compare/Contrast texts with the similar theme: Good vs. Evil.
Anticipatory Set: Have students research the witch Baba Yaga to understand the background of this historic Russian witch/tale. Have students draw a picture of the image in their mind of Baba Yaga based on their research.
Activities: Students will read the Reader’s Theater Script: Baba Yaga. This Script has Five Scenes and Nine Characters: Students can be broken into small groups and given two parts each for the Reader’s Theater Round (20-25mins). Students should then look at the four supporting characters. Students should then look at the characters they’ve chosen and Think, Pair Share: How did each their two characters (either the cat, dog, the gate, or Anastasia) assist in the development of the story through their actions and conflict resolution? What obstacles did Natasha face and how did she overcome them with the help of each of these characters? Students can complete our Character Analysis Map for each of the characters of their choosing, answering the two discussion questions above on the sheets.
Closing: Rewrite one of the five scenes from a different characters’ point of view: Natasha, Grigori, Inga, Baba Yaga or one of the supporting characters students analyzed in the activities section.
Extension: Have students read another Fairy Tale surrounding a Witch, such as our tale The Magic Ball or Hansel and Gretel, for example. What plot details/events, are similar and how are they different? How is the theme of Good vs. Evil presented in each of the tales?
Here's a Preview of our October Themed Stories & Lesson Plans!
Fairytales for Fall: Halloween Stories of Courage, Love, & of course, Good vs. Evil
The Goblin’s Market
A poetic tale of sisterly love and how far one sister will go to save the other. A classic Christina Rossetti piece, adapted for kids in grades 3rd -8th. This poem, also available as a Reader’s Theater, is perfect for Halloween: Teach Poetic Analysis alone or while putting on a fun and engaging Reader’s Theater Performance. Look for our Lesson Plan on covering such skills as Rhyme, Figurative Language, Imagery and more! Preview the Poem Here.
Russian folklore tells of the scary witch, Baba Yaga. In this version, our main character, Natasha, is sent deep into the woods by her new, evil stepmother, to search out her “sister” Baba Yaga. Natasha meets many “characters” along the way who help her to escape the wrath of her evil aunt. Available as both a Short Story & Reader’s Theater Scriptfor grades 2nd-5th; the Lesson Plan for this tale will focus on looking at the structure of a story, as well as a fun activity on writing the tale from various character points-of-view.
Would you volunteer to save your king by visiting a man-eating Ogre in a land far, far away? In this tale from Italy, a brave courtier offers to trek to the Ogre’s lair and pluck his feather to save the dying king. On the way, he meets a range of characters who each need a feather and a favor. Will the young courtier prevail? Available as both a Short Story and Reader’s Theater Script for grades 3rd-8th, this Lesson Plan will focus on how Characters respond to Challenges as well as how the Sequence of Events contribute to the Theme/Moral.
The Fisherlad and the Mermaid's Ring Reader's Theater Play Script is now available! One of our most popular stories and an adult favorite. A classic Fairy tale from Scotland of a boy, rejected by whom he thinks is his "true love" comes to find out that his real "true love" is someone else entirely. A tale of realizing that what we think we want isn't always what we need; a wonderful love story of learning our hearts true desires. And what great tale doesn't have a mermaid in it! We know you will love this script as much as us and so will your students! Make sure they give their best Scottish accents during the Reader's Theater Round. Happy Storytelling!
Character Education in the Public Schools: A Guide to Strengthening Core Values
When I arrived to collect my 7-year-old from her after-school program the other day, many youngsters were gathered on the playing field to admire a fabulous rainbow arching across the sky. After a while, the rainbow faded. The children and the after-school teachers turned around and returned to their regularly scheduled activities. In a similar way, many educators and parents gather to admire the beauty of the notion of values in the school. Then, after awhile, the beauty of the moment fades and all return to the ongoing demands of school life.
How to make values last? How to bring the beauty of the goal of holding laudable values such as compassion, persistence and responsibility, from outside the framework of the school day to a phenomenon that thrives within it?
There are no simple answers, only a tapestry of individual school experiences. For over five years, I've chaired the Core Values Committee of the Cabot Elementary School in Newton, Massachusetts.
Our committee is composed of our school's principal, Marilynne Quarcoo, teachers, and parents. When I came to the committee, parents and teachers had already identified three: Becoming Lifelong Learners, Respect for Self & Others, and Commitment to School & Community. From the outset, our challenge was how to weave these central concepts into the fabric of school life. "Core values allow the school community to remain focused on what's important", says Quarcoo. "They provide a mirror for our decision making, and provide a guide and reason for our actions and behaviors."
Here are some approaches to strengthening core values that worked for us, and may work for you.
(1) Define Your Core Values -- It Creates a "Default Position"
Nearly ten years ago, the principal, teachers, and parents at the Cabot School, over an extensive process (or so I heard, since it occurred before I entered the school system), identified such concepts. Concomitant to that, all public schools in Massachusetts in 1991 were mandated to formulate a strategy of core values.
Since that time, we've found some unexpected benefits to having articulated these ideas. Jodi Escalante, a kindergarten teacher at our school, was the first to coin the phrase "default position" relative to the benefits of core values in the classroom. "As a teacher, I'm frequently called upon to make decisions, resolve conflicts, work through dilemmas or problem solve in other ways," says Escalante. "Having core values gives me a consistent direction. It removes Âmy opinion' from the equation, substituting a default position, a previously agreed-to authority." She adds: "If a solution promotes a core value, it is acceptable." As a parent, I, too, soon found that having a default position accessible was just as handy a tool at home.
One frenzied morning not long after, my then-7 year-old cried, "Why do I have to brush my hair? Why does it matter anyway?" While I fruitlessly searched for a plausible answer, a worry tugged at the corners of my mind: "You know her hair will only get mussed in the course of the day..." Almost without thinking, I grabbed onto this explanation: "Because brushing your hair shows respect for yourself, and ÂRespect for Self & Others' is one of the Core Values of the Cabot School!" Thankfully, the phrase had popped to mind, if only because I had memorized it. And so, in the flailing of the moment, these stated ideals had provided me a safe landing ground.
Thus, our two-dimensional core values, painted on a poster in the main lobby, have come alive within the subconscious of teachers and parents walking throughout our school.
(2) Each Year, Spotlight a Different Core Value or Concentrate on an Arena of School Life
Transforming a school to exemplify an array of core values is, indeed, a daunting task! Better to divvy up the task into smaller, more manageable pieces. At the Cabot Elementary School, we first decided to focus on one value each year. Though we remain conscious of all of them, the core value on rotation receives special emphasis. At the nearby Angier Elementary School, parents and teachers identified five which they also spotlight, in turn.
H ave Courage E ffort A chieve R espect T ake Responsibility [Here's their slogan:] "At the Heart of Angier"
A different approach is to focus each year on a certain arena of school life. The challenge here is to brainstorm how the dynamic that occurs within that arena can be improved to reflect core values. The arenas may be physical places such as the bathrooms, cafeteria, hallways, homeroom, or playground. Or, you might prefer to concentrate on procedural arenas such as class routines, conflict resolution, curriculum, students reward systems, or traditions & ceremonies. At the Cabot Elementary School, however, we found that one year hasn't been enough time for a given core value; without fail we've extended an initial year devoted to a given core value to a second year. With two years devoted to each of our three core values, a given student is immersed in core values activities throughout the elementary school experience from kindergarten to grade five.
(3) Display Student Interpretations of Core Values for Other Students to See
Not to be underestimated for its impact on students is the public posting of work by other students. Take advantage of any chance you have to display writing assignments, art projects, holiday work (such as for Martin Luther King Day) that ties to your school's core values. Here's an example: At the Cabot Elementary School, each year the 5th grade gives a gift to the school as a departing gesture. Several years ago we provided the 5th graders a banner showing the three core values of our school and asked each student to write their interpretation of them on attached fabric triangles, later attached to the bottom of the banner. The banner is now on permanent display in our main lobby. Here's a sampling of comments from the students:
Listen to your heart. When someone is in trouble, never turn your back on them. If you want friends, be yourself. Don't smoke. Remember that everyone has different talents. Never stop learning. Recycle. Do your best at everything at school. Be Unique. If you have to walk the race, walk it but never give up. Don't exclude people just because you're not great friends with them. Be kind. Life is short, use time well.
For awhile, a floor-to-ceiling paper machè tree was secured to the wall in our main lobby. Once, when we were spotlighting the core value, "Becoming Lifelong Learners", we asked each student at the beginning of the school year to write on a red cut-out of an apple a single goal of something she or he would like to learn that year. That springtime, we asked each student to identify on a white cut-out of an apple blossom one learning goal that had been achieved. The beauty of this approach is that as students search to find their own apple or blossom cut-out display on the tree, they inevitably read a number of other students' goals as well. Thus, they couldn't help but be struck with the collective nature of the effort.
Making values last is an aim that, challengingly, reaches a moving target. Each year, one grade graduates and a new class of kindergartners and their parents enter. You might plan for this by sharing the school's core values with new entrants. Distribute to incoming kindergarten parents, during the springtime orientation, flyers that explain the school's core values. Discuss in the first few parent-teacher meetings in the fall the history and goals of the school's core values. Be sure that new hires, including lunchroom monitors, librarians, janitorial, school nurses, as well as teaching staff, are conversant with your school's core values.
At the same time, with new entrants come a fresh source of energies and ideas. It may well evolve that a consensus of core values that had been formed by parents or teachers no longer with the school may be rewritten to reflect the priorities of an ever-reshaping school community. This, thankfully, ensures that the most important quality of the core values experience, that is the quality of dynamism, is built into the equation. Only when the individuals who are expressing the core values, in their own hearts, believe in the underlying concepts, will they become forces that move that lovely rainbow admired outside into a transforming experience that lasts within your school's walls.
Elaine L. Lindy is an expert on the strategy of storytelling in character education. As Founder of Whootie Owl International, Lindy created the award-winning web site, "Absolutely Whootie: Stories to Grow By" ( https://www.storiestogrowby.org ). The web site, which presents a selection of ethical and entertaining fairytales and folk tales from around the world, has received recognition from USAToday, Highlights for Children Teacher.net, The New York Times on the Web, and is recommended to teachers by Disney.
A story of the missing heat and the plan to bring it back; a group of animals with varying strengths go in search of the warmth and learn the importance of working together and admiring the differences each friend brings to solve the problem.
Looking for a great story to excite your students about the warmth (Spring!) returning after the cold Winter months, while also reinforcing the theme of Cooperation and Friendship? Would you also like to have some fun in your literary classroom by having the students participate in Reader’s Theater? Then we have the perfect tale for you from Canada, The Long Winter. Offered in both a storyand play scriptversion, this is sure to reinforce the importance of working together towards a common goal and excite your students that after the long cold winter months, the heat will return!
A story from Canada, this Native American Folk Tale gives a wonderful explanation of how and why the warmth returns after the cold. We love it to be a Wintery tale, one of Cooperation and Friendship, to spark the discussion with your students on how important it is to creatively work together to achieve a common goal. This story also reinforces the theme of Friendship as many different animals work together and utilize their strengths to help each other succeed.
This story meets Common Core Standards for 1st -3rd grade and is a wonderful addition to a Unit on Friendship, Problem Solving or Cooperation. You could further the learning with higher level thinking skills by having your students devise their own problem solving plan on how to distract the bears and create their own stories with their classmates as the Main Characters. We also offer a Teacher’s Resource Guide which includes activities on Plot, Sequence of Events, Setting, Characterization, Describing Words, Main Ideas as well as an Assessment and Games/Coloring Pages. A Unit Plan already made for you! This story can also be Cross-Curricular with a Science Lesson on the Changing of the Seasons or on Native American studies and how they use tales to describe events in Nature. Extend your standard learning of the literary skills with a story that your students will sure to ponder and love. Happy Storytelling!
A story of unlikely friendships, acceptance and love, a lonely old man ponders if he should start a new life somewhere else. After deciding that a move wouldn’t change his predicament, he goes into the forest seeking answers. What he finds are grizzly bears who he decides might just be the answers to his prayers. Although they speak a different language and are usually considered fierce enemies, he decides to invite them to a feast. What he learns from them is truly the lesson of a lifetime.
A story from the United States (Alaska to be exact!), this Native American Folk Tale is a wonderful tale on finding friendships in the unlikeliest places, accepting those that are different (and who may be more alike than we believe) and kindness to others, even if it is out of our comfort zone. This story is perfect for readers on all levels, is short and engaging and speaks a message we want all our students to hear.
This story meets Common Core Standards for 1st -3rd grade and is a wonderful addition to a Unit on Friendship, Acceptance and Kindness. This story is best used in the classroom to promote its positive messages and would be a great addition to a unit for Character Education. You could also use it in a unit on Native American studies and how they used animal tales to promote these three themes within their tribes. Extend your standard learning of the literary skills with a story that your students will sure to ponder and love. Happy Storytelling!
Did you know? Over 20 of our Award-Winning Stories, such as Two Brothers, Haku's Power and The Three Princes, have been featured in educational textbooks all over the world, including such major publishers as Cambridge Press, Oxford University Press and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. They have also been featured in such State tests as the Florida State Assessment, Utah Sage Assessment and North Carolina State Assessment, as well as Nationwide tests such as the Common Core Exam and ETS Winsight Assessment.
Stories to Grow by presents Whootie Owl’s award-winning collection for Kids which consist of Folktales (or folk tales), Fairy tales (or fairytales) and Legends from all over the world! Our short stories make wonderful bedtime stories, and are multi-cultural, kid-tested and all contain positive moral messages. They are meant to Motivate & Inspire Children while leaving a lasting impression! So share one of our short stories with a child today and create a lesson that will last a lifetime. Happy Storytelling!
This month our blog will be dedicated to sharing the many stories we have in our vast treasury surrounding the Theme of LOVE...but not just traditional love stories...we will explore through our stories the many facets of love and what the main characters from each story learn about love, but more importantly, what they learn about themselves and others during the process. Some familiar stories are in our collection, Beauty & the Beast!, and some unknown stories such as the Willow Leaf Eyebrow from China which both explore the theme of Love Beyond Appearances. All of the main characters in these stories will learn the art of what it means to truly love another through lessons of Compassion, Empathy, Forgiveness, & Appreciation. And, of course, what love story collection would be complete without a story of Love brought together by Fate.