Character Traits in Fables

Character Traits in Fables

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Fourth and Fifth grade Special Education students wrote fables, created a subway mural, dance freeze cut outs, illustrations and sculptures of their characters, wrote a song and choreographed a dance for each character, and designed a web page of their work on the project.


Students will understand character traits by:

1. Using the writing process to compose fables
2. Demonstrating the ability to perceive, interpret and respond to ideas, experiences and the environment through visual art.
3. Analyzing works of art and describe how different artists express ideas and feelings about human experience.
4. Demonstrating the ability to perceive, perform and respond to music of a given time.
5. Identifying and demonstrating movement elements and skills in performing dance.


Music: selections from 1980s hip hop stars, xylophones, keyboard, tape player
Dance: Videos volumes I and II How to Break Dance by Mike Garcia
Art: Internet access to view various works by Keith Haring in museums and on


Art materials: paper, markers, oil pastels, clay, paint, and polymer
Visual aids: postcards and books of Keith's work
Various fables: Aesop's, etc.


1. Read many fables; discuss elements of fables and character traits and their impact on the story.
2. Each student chooses a moral to use for their own fable.
3. Analyze Keith Haring's life and work, especially the animal pieces and discuss what they mean (this may take several class periods). This was done in the computer lab using the haring kids web site.
4. Each student chooses three animals to combine into one for each character in their fable. Have the students create names using the names of their animals. For example: Einoish is a combination of an eagle, a dinosaur and a fish. It is important to discuss what combination of animals best represents the character traits of each character in the fable.
5. Students then use the writing process to write their fables that contain their two characters (one with foibles and one without) and incorporate their chosen moral.
6. Students draw illustrations of their characters during the climax of the fable in their specific setting paying close attention to color choice and how it reflects each character.
7. Students analyzed Keith's subway murals and created a whole class mural of all of their fable characters. We used black bulletin board paper and white oil pastels.
8. Students create a bas relief sculpture of each character. It is important to discuss texture and colors and how they relate to and best express the character's traits. We worked with our art teacher on this part and he fired the pieces for us.
9. Students listen to many samples of 1980's hip hop music as it was important to Keith while working and in his social life. Discuss what was going on in the 1980s in New York City with regards to the music and art scene. Students then use a wooden xylophone to create character songs. Each student chooses an eight note combination to create a melody that best express the character traits of each their characters. Our music teacher then took the two melodies from each student and played them on the keyboard and added a hip hop background to make the songs sound like a break dancing style song. She recorded them on a CD for us to use with the dances.
10. Watch break dancing videos, practice skills and choose moves to go into each character dance (this will take a few classes). We worked with our physical education teacher on this part and practiced break dancing in the gym.
11. Using the melodies that each student created and the break dancing moves students create a unique character dance for each animal in their fable. It is important to discuss how a particular character would move in the world. It should be emphasized that each dance should look different because of the character traits.
12. The students chose a favorite dance move for each character and froze in that position and were traced to create the dance freeze cut outs. We hung those pieces in our gym.
13. Create a web page that documents all of the pieces of the project. We worked with our media specialist to accomplish this task.