The Duck and the Moon: Critically engaging with a folktale

Context and rationale

This lesson can be taught in a beginner, intermediate, and/or multi-level ESL class. Developed around an oral folktale, this lesson is particularly appropriate for students who have little experience and/or success with formal education and reading texts. Additionally, because it addresses fears and issues about speaking up in the ESL class, it is also well-suited as a community-building and/or introductory lesson.

Lesson Overview
The heart of this lesson is an oral folktale with a moral about the positive and negative consequences of risk-taking. Both during and after the out loud reading of the folktale, the teacher supports the students in constructing the story, interpreting its message and then applying its moral to their own classroom and their learning of English. The first 4 activities are designed as pre-reading activities to support the students in understanding the story. Activity 6 involves the students in reflecting on the moral of the story and creating a code of conduct for the class where students can feel supported for speaking up in class. Additional optional activities are then listed that support students in further engaging with the text and its ideas.

The Text
The Duck and the Moon
A duck was swimming in the river looking for fish. The whole day passed, but she didn’t find any fish. When night came she saw the moon reflected on the water. She thought it was a fish and she dove down to catch it. The other ducks saw her, and they all made fun of her. The duck felt ashamed and timid. Later even when she saw a fish under water she did not try to catch it. After many weeks, she died of hunger.

The text is adapted from Tolstoy’s fable "The Duck and the Moon". The text and the kernel of this lesson come from

Lesson objectives

  • The students will engage with a folktale and use it as a launching pad to explore and share their own feelings about learning ESL in their classroom.
  • Students will interpret and reflect on the moral of the story and apply it to their learning of English.
  • The students will agree on a code of conduct for the classroom so that students don’t feel ashamed about speaking English.
  • After listening to the folktale, the students will be able to sequence the events of the story in the correct order.

Grammar, structures and competencies that support lesson objectives

  • Vocabulary for feelings
  • Irregular past tense forms
  • Expressing feelings
  • Imperatives in both affirmative and negative forms (for creating code of conduct)

Click on the link below for the lesson plan. The additional attachments are materials that can accompany the lesson and are explained in the lesson plan.