The Curriculum of the Steiner School - Class 2

Notes and Lesson Plans

Aesop's Fables
updated August 19, 2023

Recorded here is my own personal collection of articles, resources, favorite links, teaching ideas, and lesson plans. It encompasses many years, from the very beginning of my experience studying and learning about Waldorf to the present time. People from all around the world visit my site and recommend it to others. Welcome!

This site records my journey. I hope my honesty is encouraging and helps break down some barriers that may prevent people from trying Waldorf methods. Because this is an ongoing site documenting my curriculum planning and ideas, some materials are more Waldorf-y than others. Please feel free to take what you like and leave the rest.

This page has helpful links and LOADS of free resources to help you plan your second grade year. Enjoy!

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Aesop's Fables
for Class 2

Waldorf Main Lesson Block Planning: Aesop's Fables

Join a community of fellow homeschoolers planning this exact same main lesson block for plenty of help and support. This course is aimed at homeschoolers who are already familiar with the Waldorf method, but would appreciate extra feedback and encouragement in planning this block.

Make friends and ask specfic questions of an experienced Waldorf homeschool teacher and consultant as you work through this inspiring, do-able, step by step course. Lifetime access. Just $30.00!

Pinterest - Renee Schwartz
My curated collection of visuals! Browse sample main lesson book pages, watercolor paintings, chalkboard drawings, etc. for Animal Fables.

FREE eBooks at the Online Waldorf Library
Excellent resource! Published Waldorf curriculum books provided here in PDF format for you to download, keep, and read... for free!

Sample Lessons and Free Curriculum

Other Helpful Links

    available online for free - with step by step directions and illustrations

    How to clean block beeswax crayons
    blog post - Celebrate the Rhythm of Life
    I use Sweet Orange essential oil and a soft cloth. Children love this job!

    Improv Games blog post

    *NEW* Here Comes the Cat! by Frank Asch and Vladimir Vagin is a perfect example of an animal fable. This nearly wordless picture book ("here comes the cat" are the only words) tells a story but gives no moral. The pictures do all of the work. Children are simply left with a strong impression, which will continue to work on them unconsciously. Adults love to analyze and summarize and sometimes we are tempted to make sure the lesson has been received by the child. For this, the moral might be "Don't assume" (which is one of The Four Agreements, in fact). But the child doesn't need this explicit message and, in fact, it can interfere with the story going deeply into them.

    Another Second Poetry Book ed. by John Foster contains a poem for "Tortoise and Hare" by Judith Nicholls (page 110)

    The Waldorf Book of Poetry contains poems for the following fables:

    • The Hare and the Tortoise, Aesop, page 113
    • A Fable [the mountain and the squirrel], Ralph Waldo Emerson, page 114
    • The Fox and the Grapes, Aesop, page 114
    • The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf, Aesop, page 115
    • The Lion and the Mouse, William Ellery Leonard, page 115
    • The Oak and the Reed, Aesop, page 115
    • The Wolf and His Shadow, William Ellery Leonard, page 116
    • The Country Mouse and the City Mouse, Richard Schrafton Sharpe, page 116
    • The Crow and the Fox, Aesop, page 117
    • The Wind and the Sun, Walter Crane (limerick), page 118
    • The Peacock's Complaint, Walter Crane (limerick), page 118
    • The Fox and the Stork, Jean de la Fontaine, page 118

    • The Butterfly and the Caterpillar, Joseph Lauren, page 119
    • The Spider and the Fly, Mary Howitt, page 120

    Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools: Classes 1-8 by Thomas Wildgruber has several watercolor paintings:

    • the fox and the raven, page 140
    • the fox and the grapes, page 141
    • the fox and the goat, page 142
    • the fox and the wolf, page 143
    • the fox and the bear, page 143
    • the lion in the cave, page 144
    • the city mouse and the country mouse, page 145

    Although not a common choice, I also believe that the poem "The Lion and the Lily" by Elizabeth Spires is a lovely fable. You can find this poem in the Poetry Speaks to Children book and CD set, and listen to the poet read it herself on track 34.

    Dick Bruin and Attie Lichthart's new book Painting at School talks about the Fables block in Part 3, Chapter 3, "Painting in Second Grade: Opposites."

      from Complementary Colors (pp.108-109)

      "In second grade we continue to explore color moods. The moods are more extensively expressed in the subject matter for this grade, which is full of great polarities. The fables and saints' legends are all about virtues and vices.

      Character traits are described concisely and powerfully in the fables. The animals have brief adventures, in which two opposite types often meet: wolf and sheep, bear and fox, fox and raven, and so on, accentuating their differences. Each animal thinks, speaks and acts according to its own nature. Thus, animals that are sly and naive, silly and clever, industrious and lazy all meet each other.

      In color theory we speak of complementary colors. Goethe calls these strongly contrasting colors 'harmonious': red-green, blue-orange, yellow-purple. Each of the three primary colors is represented in one of the combinations: blue opposite yellow-red, and so forth."

      from The Legends (p.111)

      "To keep the children from painting a representation of the story instead of a color conversation, it is recommended that the painting exercises be done a number of weeks after the story is told. Bit by bit, both teachers and students must recreate the story so they can once again visualize the motif. If the teacher only says something like, 'Today we are going to paint this and that; I'm sure you remember because I told you the story not too long ago,' the children will be left to their own devices and lose themselves in the eternal aspects of the story....

      'If we want to paint this meeting, what colors should we pick? Which one would you choose...? And what about you? Why? Good, you take that color and you try your color. And now the wolf. Who has chosen a color for the wolf?'

      Thus the class lets the colors appear as if by magic. Each child chooses a color combination; surprisingly enough, the majority chooses the same combination. However, those who have chosen a different combination are like icing on the cake; when the paintings are put up the next day, these examples encourage more discussion and exchange of ideas."

Books to Buy

There is only one book which I recommend for you when teaching this block, but I make this recommendation VERY STRONGLY! Sieglinde de Francesca has written the authoritative book on how to teach the fables in Teaching with the Fables: A Holistic Approach.

This is an AWESOME book and if you want just one book for the Fables block, this is definitely it! It's easy enough to find free versions of Aesop's fables online, since they are all in the public domain, but this book will tell you HOW to present them and gives a wide variety of concrete suggestions for working with the stories.

In fact, Sieglinde de Francesca writes in the back of her book Teaching with the Fables: A Holistic Approach the following very good advice for all elementary and middle school ages:

"You will find, no matter what subject you are teaching, that there are basic elements to creating a truly holistic lesson plan for the whole child. These include:

  • Teaching to the head, heart, and hand
  • Creating an organic rhythm in the lesson
  • Conveying a sense of reverence for the material
  • Including some form of ritual in the lesson
  • Reviewing work from the previous lesson
  • Introducing at least one new thing with each lesson
  • Rendering the material in an artistic medium
Discover ways to apply these elements to the lessons you teach and you will see how alive they become, making teaching and learning a joy. Do be creative and above all, have fun!"

Teaching with the Fables: A Holistic Approach
Teaching with the Fables as: Extended Tale, Poem, Illustration, Play, Puppet Show & Natural Science Lesson

(If you do want a collection of Aesop's fables, I like the one by Ann McGovern.)

Aesop's Fables


In December 2023, we did Aesop's Fables as the subject for our Class Play! Complete list of fables + photos are here

I have taught this block many, many times.

My most recent time, in November 2020, was as a distance learning experience in the time of COVID, where I was helping families in our homeschool co-op to do a main lesson block on Fables by providing the stories and activity suggestions. One post contains story sources and follow-up ideas and the other post contains lots of pictures from teaching this block over the years:

In September 2016, I was was teaching this to a group of 7 and 8 year olds in our homeschool co-op. I recommend three stories a week for this block, and doing either 3 or 4 weeks.

Here was our pacing and our stories (see my blog post for lots of pictures):

    Day One: Before beginning the first story, have each child create a hollow egg using wet felting techniques (use real raw eggs as the foundation, so that children are gentle while felting, and then cut a small zigzag with sharp scissors and slip the egg out). Hear "The Milkmaid" from Borrowed Feathers and Other Fables. Act out story using a basket which you can balance on your head and the felted eggs.

    Day Two: Add story to MLB. Hear "The North Wind and the Sun" from Borrowed Feathers and Other Fables. Act out story using a basket of large playsilks.

    Day Three: Add story to MLB. Hear "The Crow and the Pitcher" from Teaching with the Fables: A Holistic Approach. Act out story using shadow puppetry, a vase, and pebbles.

    (Set up a large plain white sheet with a bright lamp sans lampshade placed behind it. Have the child sit between the sheet and the lamp, so that the lamp is behind him or her. Have the audience sit on the other side of the sheet. Place a clear glass vase partially filled with water in front of the child's hand and provide a large bowl of pebbles or marbles. As the child pinches a marble between thumb and fingers, it will appear to be the beak of a crow. Place pebbles in the vase until the water level rises high enough that the "crow" can sip it.)

    Day Four: Complete the block beeswax crayon drawing of the story from de Francesca's book (or do it as a watercolor painting). Add story to MLB. Hear "The Fox and the Grapes" from Aesop's Fables. Act out story outside using Spiel und Holz "Grasper" wooden baby toy high in a tree to represent the grapes.

    Use fox finger puppet and a large green playsilk to act story out as a lap puppetry.

    Day Five: Add story to MLB. Sew fox finger puppets using red felt and Suzanne Down's Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals wolf pattern.

    Day Six: Hear "The Ant and the Grasshopper" from The Ant and the Grasshopper by Amy Lowry Poole. Model ant from Arthur Auer's book using modeling beeswax.

    Day Seven: Illustrate story by drawing with white chalk on black paper to create ants using negative space, a la Amy Lowry Poole. Add story to MLB. Hear "The Bear and the Bees" from Teaching with the Fables: A Holistic Approach.

    (Previously, when I did this block with a middle school student, she needle felted a bear and then she needle felted a series of bees and added tissue paper wings using the pattern in The Nature Corner. She then hung the bear and a large swarm of bees chasing him from a long branch, thus creating a mobile. You could do this with a younger class by making the brown bear yourself and then having them wet felt little bees, wrap tiny conifer cones in yellow and black wool roving, or use the "catkin" bee instructions in The Nature Corner.)

    Brown bear needle felting patterns are in Wild and Tame Needlefelt Animals, page 62 OR Little Felted Animals, page 46.

    Day Eight: Add story to MLB. Hear "City Mouse, Country Mouse" from City Mouse, Country Mouse and two more mouse tales from Aesop. Work collaboratively to draft a poem for two voices for "The Bear and the Bees." Here is our finished poem! (PDF) Writing one together will give them confidence with this new style.

    Have students make mouse stick puppets (2 wooden spoons per child plus have available construction paper, glue, scissors, yarn, colored pencils). I suggest you write which puppet is which and the initials of the child who made them on the inner curved surface of the spoons so they can keep them straight while telling the story. While puppets are drying, draw a "set" on the chalkboard with white chalk. Perform the story with students sitting on the floor or on a stool below the chalkboard.

    Then each child writes a poem for two voices for "City Mouse, Country Mouse."

    Day Nine: Add story to MLB. Hear "The Fox and the Stork" from Aesop's Fables. Act out story using two shallow plates, two tall narrow vases, and a set of chopsticks.

    Day Ten: Add story to MLB. Hear "The Tortoise and the Hare" from The Tortoise and the Hare by Jerry Pinckney. Illustrate and act out the story by making a moving picture from Making Picture Books with Movable Figures by Brunhild Muller. Glue finished picture in MLB as illustration. Glue in a small envelope containing the loose animal pieces, perhaps below the summary of the story or on the inside back cover of the book.

We ran out of time to do "The Lion and the Mouse" but it is easy to do this later in the year as a beeswax modeling lesson (from Learning About the World Through Modeling: Sculptural Ideas for School and Home by Arthur Auer) or a watercolor painting lesson (from Teaching with the Fables: A Holistic Approach).

I also read The Fox That Wanted Nine Golden Tails as a read-aloud story during one of the weeks of this block.

Below are the notes from my other versions of this main lesson block:

Blog posts from 2017 as I adapted the Fables block to be a week-long Spring Break Camp:

The completed 2015 Animal Fables and Puppetry main lesson block (pdf)

And some blog posts from 2015 as I developed that Fables block:

The 2010 version (blog posts):

The 2006 version: Fables Unit (pdf)

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