Sample Activities for First-graders:

    Session 1
    Session 2
    Session 3
    Session 4
    Session 5
    Session 6
    Session 7
    Session 8

What is a Folk or Fairy Tale?

    The Little Red Hen
    Little Red Riding Hood

Read Aloud Strategies

Extension Activities

Curriculum Guide

Helpful Links

About the Creators



The Three Little Pigs

     First graders love The Three Little Pigs!  Being sent off into the world to make your way and what can happen if you're not careful are  powerful themes for these small people who have been sent off to school, cautioned to mind the teacher and not get into trouble.  In addition to the themes explored in this tale, children love the repetition of  the tale.  And who wouldn't be captivated by the image of that Big Bad Wolf huffing and puffing and blowing those houses down?

    What follows is a series of activities for using three versions of The Three Little Pigs.  I picked one traditional and two variations that allow for fertile ground for comparing and contrasting. The activities are somewhat cummulative in nature and  are intended to build and support children's capacity for literature discussion and response; the culminating activity in the series is children writing and publishing their own version of The Three Little Pigs.  However, I expect that a teacher could either do all the activities or pick and choose according to the needs of the group.  If you pick and choose, make sure you've laid the necessary groundwork for a specific activity.  For example, children will be better able to engage in a rich compare and contrast discussion of two tales if each  tale has been read at least twice.

    The activities are intended for first- graders, but I also include some suggestions for scaling the difficulty up for second or third-graders.

Read Aloud Books--
  • The Three Little Pigs, Margot Zemach, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991)
    •  a traditional retelling by Caldecott- winning illustrator
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Jon Scieszka  (Puffin, 1996) 
    • a humorous retelling from the wolf's perspective
  • Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig,  Eugene Trivizas  (1999)
    • a humorous retelling where the wolves are the good guys and the Big Bad Pig turns out not to be so bad after all 
There are a number of other excellent versions of The Three Little Pigs.  For a longer (but not exhaustive) list of alternatives, click here.

The other materials used in these activities are available in most classrooms: chart paper, markers, crayons, scissors, paper.

Hint:  If you do not have and can't afford chart paper, a good alternative is the backside of commercial bookcovers.  Many companies donate coated paper covers that advertise local businesses or products, the opposit side is usually plain.

Session 1: 
Read Aloud a Traditional Version of The Three Little Pigs

Read aloud The Three Little Pigs by Margot Zemach. Review read aloud strategies to helpwith this.  If you do not have access to a copy of a traditional retelling of The Three Little Pigs, you could use this simple variation that I wrote.  As you read the title and author and illustrator of the book, point out to the children the language "retold by" instead of "written by".  Point out that stories like The Three Little Pigs are folk tales and that means they've been told many, many times.  For more info, see What's a folk tale?  It is important to draw attention to this in order to set the stage stage for children to create their own retelling several days from now.

Extension Activity:  Class Book of The Three Little Pigs Highlights
After you've read the story, have each child tell what his or her favorite part was.  Using the language experience technique, write each child's response on chart paper.  After you've taken all the responses, reread the entire page.  Then give each child a page on which to write and illustrate "the best part" of  The Three Little Pigs.  Make sure the chart paper is available for the children to reference as they do their independent writing. 

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Session 2:
Read Aloud a Traditional Version of The Three Little Pigs
Read the story of The Three Little Pigs a second time.  (Note:  most first-graders will delight in having the story read many times.  If a few children groan or comment, "we've read this already!"  take the opportunity to tell the children that you never read a good story just once.  Good stories are for reading over and over and over.  And each time you read a good story, you notice something new.  Tell the children to listen closely, to see if they notice anything new or different about the story that they hadn't realized before.  Tell the children that they need to listen very closely because when you've finished reading, they are going to retell or make a summary of the story.

Extension Activity: The Three Little Pigs Summary
After you finish reading ask the children to share a few new things they noticed.  Remind the children that now you are going to work together to write summary of the story.  Explain that a summary is when you use your own words to  you tell the story in order including all the important parts.  You may need to model this for them.  You may create the summary as an interactive writing or shared writing/language experience activity, depending on the needs of your group.  Note:  if you use interactive writing, you will probably need to stretch it out over two to three separate sessions.  Interactive writing can become quite tedious if you attempt to write too long a passage in one sitting.  As you write think of places to leave space for illustrations.

Once the writing is done, have children make illustrations to go with the summary.  Add the illustrations to the writing to make an attractive display.  Be sure to reread the chart with your children.

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Session 3: 
Read Aloud: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
Read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by Jon Scieszka.   Discuss the story soliciting children's ideas.  Could the wolf be innocent?  What makes you think he's telling the truth?  What makes you think he's lying?  Using language experience techniques, write down on chart paper what  the reasons that children give for their opinion. 

Extension Activity: The Wolf Lied/The Wolf Told the Truth Double Book
After taking comments from all who want to share, tell the children they need to decide if they if they think the wolf is lying or telling the truth.  Have each child make a page for a class book that tells whether they think the wolf is lying and at least one reason why. (For older children you might require more reasons.)  After the children have finished, publish their work in a double book by sorting the "lies" from the "truth." Make a cover for each and put them together so that when you can read the book from either end.  Don't forget to read the class book to the children!

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Session 4: 
Read Aloud: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

Extension Activity:  "Wanted" Poster
Use Interactive Writing to create a "Wanted" poster for A. Wolf.  Tell the children that the  Wolf in the story has escaped and that you need to put together a wanted poster to warn all the pigs in the community that he's out of jail and to help the police catch him.  Before getting started, talk the children through what a wanted poster is.  What should it look like?  How big should it be?  Should it have a picture of the wolf, so that the pigs could recognize him?  Posters need to catch people's eye, so the words should be big and easy to read.  Also, posters have a different layout than pages in a book:  fewer words and usually written in a list or bulleted form as opposed to a paragraph.  Also, talk the children through the parts of the poster:  large title, the name of the fugitive, crime that he's wanted for, a detailed description of the fugitive, a reward for information, and where to call to give information.  Push the children to refer back to the text to come up with a thorough, acurate description of the wolf.  Make sure they're using pictures as well as words as reference.

Extension Activity:  "Free A. Wolf" Poster
A second option that would work better if the children believed the wolf's story, would be to create a poster calling for his release.  If, after reading the story, the children feel the wolf has been unjustly imprisoned, lead them in a discussion of how they could remedy the situation.  One way might be to raise public awareness about the wolf's plight.  You could make a poster to put up for everyone to see.  Using a similar process that guided making the "Wanted"  poster:  you would still need an eye-catching title in large letters, e.g. "FREE A. WOLF" and a brief description of his situation.  The description of the wolf, obviously, would be very different if you were trying to persuade pigs everywhere that he was innocent.

If you teach older kids (2nd or 3rd graders) instead of doing a whole group writing activity, you could  have children do their own (allowing them, based on their opinion of the story to choose which one) and then compare and contrast the "Wanted" posters with the "Free A. Wolf" posters.

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Session 5: 
Read Aloud: Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig
Read The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig.  Show the cover of the book and read the title to the children.  Have a brief discussion of what might be different in this version of The Three Little Pigs.  Read the story to the Children and then discuss it.  Ask the children to recall what the houses were made of.  Take dictation to make a list of all the different kinds of houses. Of the materials used in the book, which could really be used to make a house?  Which are make-believe?  Ask the children, which house was the strongest?  Why do you think that?

Extension Activity: All Kinds of Houses Class Book
After the discussion, tell the children that they are going to make a class book of houses.  Each child will make a page patterned on "This is a house made of ..."  The children can choose anything to make their house.  They can get ideas from the book or make up their own.  They will need to illustrate their page.  Point out to the children that it is very important in books for the pictures and words on a page to match because that helps children to read it.  Often when young children are drawing, their ideas shift mid-stream and a house that started as wood becomes bricks. Help the children think through a plan for their page. Should they do the illustration or the writing first? Which would be easier to change if they changed their mind half way through?  In order to extend this activity for older children, you might have them justify their chosen material or tell why it would be strong.)

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Session 6: 
Read Aloud: Reread a Favorite Version
Reread one of the versions of The Three Little Pigs.  Before reading, point out to the children that a folk tale means that it is a story that has been told for many years by many different people.  When an author wants to create his or her own special version we say that s/he is retelling a tale.  You may want to tell the children that folk tales have been around for long time--long before we knew how to publish books.  People used to tell these stories to each other and they weren't writien down anywhere.  Often as people told these stories they would change them to make them their own.  Bring the children's attention to the fact that while the stories you have been reading have many similarities, they also have differences.  Prompt the children to think about what is different and what is the same between two versions.

Extension Activity: Compare and Contrast Two Versions
After you finish reading, lead the children in a compare and contrast discussion of two tales.  Use interactive writing or language experience as appropriate.  Use chart paper to make a table with a column for each story, or use a a Venn Diagram.  At another time, reread the chart with the children.  Be sure to put it up in the room  for children to read on their own or refer to later in their own writing.

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Session 7: 
Read Aloud: Reread a Favorite Version
See general read aloud strategies. 

Extension Activity: Class Retelling of The Three Little Pigs
After you finish reading, tell the children that you are going to work together to tell a new version of The Three Little Pigs. Make sure they understand that some things can be the same, but there must also be important differences.  Take the children through the decisions you need to make: Who will the characters be (e.g., Big Bad Pig or Wolf).  Is it going end good or bad or somewhere in between.  Is the good guy going to work it out with the bad guy?  Is the bad guy going to triumph?  Is the good guy going to triumph? If you would like to see the version my first-graders wrote last year,click here.

Think about whether you want to use interactive writing or language experience to do the class retelling.  Once the chart has been created, have children do illustrations for a classroom display.  Reread the story they have written several times.

Extension Activity: Mix and Fix Class Version of The Three Little Pigs
The following activity works well as in a whole group or at a center. After the class retelling is completed, type up the story and divide into short sections (like a sentence or two each).  Make sure you use type that is sized at least 18 or 24 pts.  Cut the sentences into strips and give a strip to each child.  Have the children cut up the sentence, mix and fix it again.  Make sure that children have a model posted (the original chart is fine) so that they can check their work.  After they put the words back in order, they can glue them to a page and illustrate.  You can put these pages up as a frieze and/or make them into multiple copies of a class book.

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Session 8: 
Read Aloud: Reread a Favorite Version
See general read aloud strategies. 

Extension Activity: Independent Retelling of The Three Little Pigs
This is intended to be the culmating activity in a study of  The Three Little Pigs.  It should take children several writing sessions to complete and publish their tale.  Depending on the needs and ability of your group, you may want to model retelling the story by doing your own.  To do this, have a pretty good idea of your story before you sit down to write in front of the kids.  Model high-quality first grade writing, not adult writing.  Write on chart paper. Do some of your thinking out loud, so that the process of making decisions as you write is explicitly demonstrated for the children.  You may ask for suggestions if you get "stuck" at some point, e.g, "I wonder what the pig should do next?" You need not complete the story in one session of writing, this models the idea of working on a piece of writing over several days.  At the end of the session reread what you've written and then launch the children into their independent writing. 

Note: When did this with my first graders last year (at about mid-way through the year) there was a wide range of ability.  At the low end, children virtually copied my model with a few minor changes.  At the high end, our discussions were a springboard into truly orginal versions.  Because I wanted every child to experience success, I purposefully allowed them to copy, if needed.  Some children capable of writing on their own may have taken the easy way out by copying.  These are trade-offs you'll need to consider when you structure how much support you'd like to give and how much truly independent writing you want to have happen. 

Use whatever procedures you have in place for the writing process. After children have completed their tale, allow them to publish by making a cover and title page for their story. 

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