Good Ways to Start a Fable

Writing fables with your children is a great way to engage them in the art of storytelling. Using animal characters kids identify with, fables tell moral lessons through simple narrative tales. To get your kids started, there are a couple approaches to take.

Either have them start with the moral of their fable, or the animal characters they'd like to use.

Starting with the Moral

Starting with the moral is the most direct approach to beginning a fable and a great way to keep a fable focused. To get kids started, read several fables aloud and discuss the lessons they teach. Then expand the discussion to explore recent lessons from the children's lives they might want to write about. School subjects, such as recent history or social studies lessons, are also great places to explore for morals. In a classroom setting, you may want to divide the children into groups for this discussion. Common fable moral themes include patience, hardwork, perseverance, generosity and teamwork.

Once a child chooses a moral, the fable's characters can be chosen. To keep the fable simple, one or two characters is sufficient. Brainstorm with your child over animal traits that complement or work against their chosen moral. For a fable about teamwork, for instance, an ant could make a great character, showing how much the fellow ants can accomplish despite their very small size. A mule could make another great teamwork character, due to his stubborn nature. He can carry much more than an ant, over much greater distances, but could never work with other mules to build an entire kingdom.

Starting with the Characters

Although deciding upon a moral is the most direct approach toward writing a fable, a child may have difficulty getting started. A good brainstorming approach is to allow the child to start with a main character instead. Either let the child choose an animal, or place the names of several animals in a bowl and leave it up to chance. Help the child think about the strengths and specific characteristics of the animal, along with a problem they may need to solve. The trick is coming up with a problem they may have difficulty solving. For instance, a child may choose a T-Rex for its size, strength and power, but what happens if he drops his favourite coin down a very small hole? He may have to learn to use his wits instead of his brawn to get it out, or enlist the help of a smaller animal he would normally eat or scare away--and so a new fable is born.