Theatre Game of the Week #18

In honor of CNY we will play Fables. Fables is a great game when you're teaching kids about mythology or about traditional stories. It can also be used in a classroom with Aesop's to teach things about moral/theme and manners. What you do is you read a fable as a class together. Then you use this fable as a platform to create a drama over the class period. Because it's CNY, we'll use the story of the Chinese Zodiac for the basis of this outline.

Game Name: Fables

Materials Needed: Construction Paper, Markers, Scissors.

Students Needed: 12+

Time Needed: 1 hour+


First the Fable:
One day the Jade Emperor decided to have a party on the top of the mountain. He invited all of his animal friends. There was a river at the bottom of the hill. Rat and Rabbit were not the best swimmers but were very clever. The Jade Emperor decided to have a race. Whichever animal was the first to the top of the hill would be first in the zodiac and so on. Rabbit and Rat decided that the best and fastest way to cross the river was to hop on the back of Ox. Ox, being naive and good-natured, agreed to carry them both across. Midway across the river, Rat pushed Rabbit in the water. Then, as Ox neared the other side of the river, Rat jumped ahead and reached the shore first. Rat raced up the hill and won first place in the zodiac.


Following closely behind was strong Ox who was named the 2nd animal in the zodiac. After Ox, came Tiger, panting, while explaining to the Jade Emperor how difficult it was to cross the river with the heavy currents pushing it downstream all the time. But with its powerful strength, Tiger made to shore and was named the 3rd animal in the cycle.


Suddenly, from a distance came a thumping sound, and the Rabbit arrived. Halfway through, it almost lost the race due to Rat's trickery, but the Rabbit was lucky enough to grab hold of a floating log that later washed him to shore. For that, it became the 4th animal in the Zodiac cycle. In 5th place was the Flying Dragon. Of course, the Jade Emperor was deeply curious as to why a swift flying creature such as the Dragon should fail to reach first place. The mighty Dragon explained that he had to stop and make rain to help all the people and creatures of the earth, and therefore he was held back. Then, on his way to the finish, he saw a little helpless Rabbit clinging onto a log so he did a good deed and gave a puff of breath to the poor creature so that it could land on the shore and continue racing. The Jade Emperor was very pleased with the actions of the Dragon, and he was added into the zodiac cycle. As soon as he had done so, a galloping sound was heard, and the Horse appeared. Hidden on the Horse's hoof was the Snake, whose sudden appearance gave the Horse a fright, thus making it fall back and giving the Snake the 6th spot, while the Horse placed 7th.


Not long after that, a little distance away, the Ram, Monkey, and Rooster came to the shore and raced up the hill. These three creatures helped each other get to where they are. The Rooster spotted a raft, and took the other two animals with it. Together, the Goat and the Monkey cleared the weeds, tugged and pulled and finally got the raft to the shore. Because of their combined efforts, the Emperor was very pleased and promptly named the Ram as the 8th creature, the Monkey as the 9th, and the Rooster the 10th.


The 11th animal was the Dog. Although he was supposed to be the best swimmer, he could not resist the temptation to play a little longer in the river. His explanation for being late was he needed a good bath after a long spell. For that, he almost didn't make it to the finish line. Just as the Jade Emperor was about to call it a day, an oink and squeal was heard from a little Pig. The Pig got hungry during the race, promptly stopped for dinner and then fell asleep. After the nap, the Pig continued the race and was named the 12th animal of the zodiac cycle.


Step 1) Assign the parts to the kids. They either get to be an animal, the river, or The Emperor. Using the art materials they will make a quick costume for their part.

Step 2) Practice racing. Make body language symbols for "victory" and "loss".

Step 3) Make still pictures for stages in the race. Key moments in the story are the beginning of the race, Rat sabotaging Rabbit, Dragon saving Rabbit, Rooster, Ram and Monkey working together, etc.

Step 4) After making still pictures make a silent movie of the story as a class.

Step 5) Add English to the story and turn it into a ten or fifteen minute drama. Use key vocabulary words like: zodiac, animals, win, lose, place, race.

Step 6) Talk about the story one last time and go over any vocab words. Did they have fun? What did they learn? What year are they? What does the zodiac mean?




  • Anne
    11 February 2013

    Can we get to see the tags on the articles so we can find all the ones in this series easily? It's great and I'd like to see them all at once rather than have to go searching. Not user friendly in the least.

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