K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • compare language used by different authors.
  • create simple Venn diagrams to show comparison.
  • use higher level thinking skills to discuss character behavior and relate to own experiences.
  • explore elements of a story (beginning, middle, end…) and express their understanding through the arts.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

3 hours


  • Three Billy Goats Gruff (Two different book versions)
  • Three Billy Goats Gruff puppets (Can be made by children after hearing story as an added art activity)
  • Dry erase board, chalk board, or chart paper for diagrams


  • Visit a goat farm, observe, describe and learn about goats
  • Read simple factual books on goats


Day 1

  1. Teacher reads classic version of Three Billy Goats Gruff. Children discuss the question: Was there a lesson in this story?
  2. Children respond verbally then through writing and drawing to the question: How would you have treated the goats if you were the troll? Why?
  3. Place the first book and the puppets in the drama center. Let children model the proper use of the puppets to act out the story at another time during the day before opening the center. Allow 4 children at a time to be in this center.

Day 2

  1. Read version 2 of The Three Billy Goats Gruff to the class.
  2. Have the class verbally compare and contrast version one to version two of the story: Draw a Venn Diagram on the board or chart. List story elements that are the same (as children say them) inside the intersection of the circles. Then list the story elements that are different in the opposing circles outside the intersecting area--one version listed on one side one on the other.
  3. Place book version two in the drama center next to version one (readers familiar with the story are often recruited by puppeteers to read some of the narration).

Day 3

  1. Reread the children’s favorite version of The Three Billy Goats Gruff.
  2. Have the children listen for descriptive story language that helps them imagine things in the story and point out these phrases after the reading.
  3. Have the children write their own versions of The Three Billy Goats Gruff using story board pictures and/or writing.


Anecdotal observations or notes on the children’s use of story language and their ability to respond to and analyze story elements during writing, class discussions, and drama center work.

Supplemental information


Exploring simple traditional tales in this way has really helped my children understand the elements of stories.

They develop a sense of ‘ownership’ in the story after hearing it several times and seem freer to experiment with story dialogue both verbally and in their writing.

As a follow up you can try other tales that come in threes such as The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears…

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Literature

        • Grade 1
          • 1.RL.2 Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
          • 1.RL.9 Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.
        • Grade 2
          • 2.RL.2 Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
          • 2.RL.9 Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.06: Discuss authors'/speakers' use of different kinds of sentences to interest a reader/listener and communicate a message.