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Aesop's Fables
Translated by Rev. George Fyler Townsend
Illustrated by Harrison Weir. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1871.

 
The Ant and the Grasshopper  AK G9; IG6 L4.1 Verbals
The Ass in the Lion's Skin  AK - Style
See also "By Fable"
The Ass, the Cock, and the Lion AK - Comb
"The Buffoon and the Countryman" RR AK - L1.1 SV
The Cock and the Jewel AK - L6.7 Passages
     If fifth graders have been studying S/V/C patterns since fourth grade, the language in this fable ("thee," "first estate," "barleycorn") will probably give them more trouble than the S/V/C patterns will. Still, the ellipsed finite verb (for "I") will probably be new. If they are using this for clauses, students will run into the question of the end of the "exclaimed" clause. That is a question that I do not remember ever seeing discussed in a grammar textbook.
     This fable might be a good prompt for an essay -- What is the most important thing in life?
"The Flies and the Honey-Pot" AK Punct/SC - L6.1
"The Fox and the Crane" AK - L6.3 Combine

     Townsend's translation of "The Fox and the Crane" uses several words that may be new to many third graders, but I decided to use it for the basic exercise for two reasons. The first is to show that KISS enables the analysis of real texts -- that means that I cannot change the texts. The second reason is that my experience has been that students are too often taught that they must understand every word in a text. Not only is that nonsense, but it is also dangerous. Far too many of my college Freshmen, when asked to read a relatively difficult text, simply quit because they do not understand some of the words. In the case of this fable, for example, third graders probably will not know what "pulse" is. (I had to look it up myself.) But if one thinks, instead of simply absorbing like a sponge, it doesn't take much imagination to figure out that it is something that soup can be made from. And that is all that one needs to know in order to understand the fable. Thus, for the purpose of teaching reading skills, Townsend's translation is the better choice.
     As always, I have included analysis keys for each KISS Level to the point where every word in the text has been explained. These are primarily reference material for teachers and parents, but this text can also be used in the upper grades for an exercise at any KISS level.
     Some teachers may want to use the sentence-combining version of the text as the analysis exercise. Making meaning is more difficult than is grasping it, so in the SC version of the exercise I have replaced many of the strange words with more common ones. The SC version has fewer prepositional phrases, and it might be useful to have students analyze both versions and then discuss how some prepositional phrases in the Townsend translation become S/V/C patterns in the simpler version.
     The literary aspects of this fable are, of course, centered on its moral. What is its moral? Is it reinforcing the Golden Rule -- that we should treat others as we ourselves want to be treated? Or is it suggesting that, when we are mistreated, we should seek an appropriate revenge? Is revenge ever appropriate? Before having students write about this fable, you might want to have the class discuss these questions, and perhaps you might even ask for some of their own tales of revenge -- or lack of it. Then you can ask the students to either write their own tale, or to write about the appropriateness of revenge, using some of the tales told in class as examples.
     If students have studied adjectives, nouns, and verbs, one of the things that they (or you) might note is that the Fox and the Crane are not characterized -- there are no adjectives ("selfish," "mean," etc.)  used to describe either the Fox or the Crane. Everything is centered on what they do (the verbs), not on who they are. Is it the lack of any such characterization that leaves the moral of the fable so ambiguous? Who is the "bad guy" -- the Fox, or the Crane?
 
 

The Fox and the Crow AK G8 L4
     There are a number of verbals (gerundives and infinitives) that may confuse fourth graders in this text, but they will have to learn to isolate finitive verbs from verbals. If the students are having problems with this, you might want to use this text twice. Give them the text for the sentence-combining exercise as an identification exercise first. After they have done and reviewed it, give them the original text and review with them why the verbals are not finite. Thus, for example, "having stolen" is not finite because (as they know) "A crow having stolen a piece of meat" is not an acceptable sentence. Another way to approach the same problem is to use the original text as a decombining exercise. (In doing this, they will have to change most of the verbals into finite verbs.)
     What is the moral of this fable? Which of the characters is "the bad guy"? Or are they both bad?
The Fox and the Lion AK G5 L1.5
     There are numerous prepositional phrases in this passage, including two ("On meeting him" and "On Seeing him") that will present a minor challenge. 
     I added this fable as an exercise simply because I thought that it presents an idea that would interest primary school children, many of whom feel isolated and either fear classmates or have trouble making friends. After the students do the exercise, they might enjoy writing a short paper on how they got to know someone.
The Fox Who Had Lost His Tail AK G6 L4.1 Verbals 
     Townsend used lots of gerundives in his translations of Aesop's fables. Other translations use simpler sentences and more subordinate clauses in place of the gerundives, but Townsend's work can provide fourth graders with some good exercise at distinguishing finite from non-finite verbs. It also provides excellent material for sentence decombining and combining exercises. The research suggests, by the way, that few if any fourth graders will use gerundives in doing the sentence combining exercise. They are much more likely to compound verbs and use some subordinate clauses. Don't expect them to get near the style of Townsend's gerundives.
The Jackdaw and the Doves AK G6 L4
     The sentence-combining exercise gives you two options. If your students are just beginning, or having trouble, identifying S/V/C patterns, you can use the SC exercise as an identification exercise. Then have the students do the combining exercise. On the other hand, if your students are doing well with S/V/C patterns, the gerundives and infinitives in Townsend's translation will give them an interesting challenge.
     The moral of this fable, is, of course, close to that of the Biblical parable about serving two masters. You might want to have students discuss what other works they have read that might involve the same question. 
The Man and His Two Sweethearts AK G9 L4.1 Verbals 
     The moral of this fable is, of course, the often referred to idea that a person cannot usually serve two masters. It is an interesting topic for students to discuss, especially if "masters" is expanded to include activities. Can most people serve both academics and sports? Academics (or sports) and a job? Class discussion of this could be good preparation for a writing assignment.
     It was interesting to note that Caldecott, in his 1883 Some of Aesop's Fables with Modern Instances, translates this fable as "The Man and His Two Wives." Perhaps I noted this because yesterday I was listening to Diane Ravitch, on BookNotes, explain how pressure groups are, in effect, censoring the literature that students can read in our classrooms. If I understood her correctly, this fable, for example, could not appear in any major literature textbook because of its presentation of women. The various translations of the fables -- and how they reflect the cultural attitudes of their times -- would be an excellent topic for an eleventh grade research paper. Michael Hearn's "Introduction" to The Caldecott Aesop (NY: Doubleday, 1978) provides some interesting initial information about how the translations and illustrations reflect the cultural periods in which they were created.)
 
The Ox and the Frog AK - Combining
     With four gerundives and an infinitive in a 114-word text, this would make an excellent assessment quiz for the end of ninth grade. I would ignore errors on the "than . . . imitate . . . ." construction. In an ideal KISS curriculum, if ninth graders can get the four gerundives and the other infinitive, they are doing extremely well. (They will still have two -- or three -- years to work out such things as the "than" construction.)
 
"The Swallow and the Crow" AK G6Start L1. 5 Basic PP
     The idea of feathers as friends went right over my head the first time I read this. As a result, I couldn't figure out how the story fit the moral. This might be an interesting thing to discuss with your students after they do the exercise.
 
 
The Wolf and the Housedog AK G7; IG6 L4
     The clauses in the first sentence will present a challenge, perhaps even for most students who have been studying clauses since seventh grade.They are, however, analytical problems -- rarely, if ever, does a student have problems in using this clause structure. I would suggest using this passage as an in-class review exercise, on an overhead, and not as a homework or Assessment assignment.
 
 
The Wolf and the Lamb AK G8 L4.1 Verbals
     I was tempted to change some of the words in this passage since my guess is that the vocabulary will challenge some students. Then I remembered all the talk about dumbing down the curriculum and decided to keep the original just as it is. It won't hurt students to work with some new words.