“The Hare and the Tortoise” 
a fable by Aesop 

Aim: To get young children to think critically about whether it is better to be fast (and showy perhaps) or careful (and modest perhaps).

Background. A fable is usually a traditional short story about animals that teaches a moral. Aesop was a Greek storyteller who lived 620 – 560 BCE and believed to be a slave by birth, but who was given his freedom for his learning and wit. About 656 fables have accumulated around the name Aesop, but some scholars say that the story of Aesop is a myth.1

Materials. Prepare colouring-in pictures of a hare, tortoise, the race, etc, which may be downloaded freely (perhaps with acknowledgement to DLTK2) from www.dltk-teach.com/fables/tortoise/index.htm and other sites. Also have on hand the “Traffic Lights”3, colouring pens, and a black/whiteboard to count opinions.

Objective. To read the story, have the children think about it whilst colouring in, and then solicit opinions about what attitudes they prefer.

Procedure. Read or tell the story

‘The Hare was once boasting of his speed before the other animals. “I have never yet been beaten,” said he, “when I put forth my full speed.  I challenge any one here to race with me.” The Tortoise said quietly, “I accept your challenge.” “That is a good joke,” said the Hare; “I could dance round you all the way.” “Keep your boasting till you’ve beaten,” answered the Tortoise. “Shall we race?” So a course was fixed and a start was made. The Hare darted almost out of sight at once, but soon stopped and, to show his contempt for the Tortoise, lay down to have a nap. The Tortoise plodded on and plodded on, and when the Hare awoke from his nap, he saw the Tortoise just near the winning-post and could not run up in time to save the race.  Then said the Tortoise: “Plodding wins the race.”’

Then start the colouring.

When appropriate, ask the three standard questions, (a) What were you thinking when listening to this story, (b) what things did you like about the story, and (c) what things didn’t you like about the story? Try to remember those really good answers for preserving later.

Then distribute the colouring pages, one only to each child, ie, either hare, race or tortoise, and ask them to colour in.

After colouring is fairly complete collect them together and ask some questions, which can be answered by ‘Traffic Lights”. Ask a child to draw the “Traffic Light” grill, green = Yes, red = no and yellow = Maybe, don’t know or don’t care. Refer to the groups of children with each type of picture.

1.     Could the story really happen? (Ask the child with to chalk/pen to enter the score.)

2.     Is the hare a nice person?

3.     Is the tortoise a nice person?

4.     Is it a good idea to work fast and then have a sleep?

5.     Is it a good idea to work slowly without stopping?

Review the scores remembering that in these lessons there are not right or wrong answers. However if you think that an important point is missing, please be sure to make it in a non-committal way.

Outcomes/Assessment. Unlike many other lessons on this website, this lesson has not yet been road-tested. Please advise via a comment or our Gmail address of your own experience with it.


1.     Aesop’s Fables Online Collection, http://aesopfables.com/

2.     DLTK’s Growing Together, http://www.dltk-teach.com/fables/tortoise/index.htm

3.     Childhood Reading, http://childhoodreading.com/?p=3


by Arthur Rackham3

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