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

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Learning outcomes

Students will determine whether wolves in selected picture books are presented as antagonists or protagonists. They will form an opinion about the scientific accuracy of their impressions of wolves in these books.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

90 Minutes


  • Chart paper & markers.
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
  • Nonfiction books about wolves, encyclopedias, and other print reference sources with information about wolves
  • Copies of books in which a wolf is a main character. Books may include but are not limited to the following titles:
    • The Three Little Pigs by Paul Galdone
    • Little Red Riding Hood by Trina Schart Hyman
    • Peter and the Wolf retold by Michele Lemieux
    • Wolf! by Becky Bloom
    • The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas
    • Suddenly! by Colin McNaughton


Students should understand the terms “protagonist” and “antagonist.” A protagonist is the main character of a story. An antagonist opposes or seeks to harm the protagonist.


Part 1

  1. Divide students into groups of 3 or 4 and give each group a book in which a wolf is a main character. Some groups should have books in which the wolf is the protagonist, and others should have books in which the wolf is the antagonist.
  2. Groups read their book aloud and determine whether the wolf is a protagonist or antagonist.
  3. Groups list words or passages from the story that support their opinion of the wolf’s role in the story.
  4. Groups share their impressions of a wolf, based on the story, and teacher records their impressions on a classroom chart.
  5. Teacher polls students to see how many believe each impression is scientifically accurate.
  6. Closing remarks should spark excitement about returning to the Media Center to discover which impressions are accurate.

Part 2

  1. Students use print and nonprint resources to look for information about wolves that will support or refute their impressions of wolves. Students will mark the individual items on the classroom chart with an “A” for accurate, “P” for partially accurate, or “I” for inaccurate as they discover the truth about wolves.
  2. When the chart is complete, discuss the findings and make a list of the stories in which wolves are portrayed accurately, partially accurately, and inaccurately.
  3. Read to class The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, as told by A. Wolf, by Jon Sciezka. Using the information from their research, have students work in pairs or small groups to write a letter to the editor from A. Wolf telling how wolves have been misunderstood and telling the real truth about wolves.


  • The finished product for this lesson will be the classroom chart detailing the students’ impressions of wolves and their opinions regarding the scientific accuracy of their impressions.
  • Completion of the classroom chart and a group and participation in closing discussion
  • Letter to the Editor

Supplemental information

These books have information about wolves and how literature and lore have affected attitudes about them:

  • Gray Wolf Red Wolf by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
  • Wolf by Maureen Greeley

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

        • Grade 3
          • 3.RL.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
        • Grade 4
          • 4.RL.6 Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Information and Technology Skills (2010)
      • Grade 3

        • 3.RP.1 Apply a research process as part of collaborative research. 3.RP.1.1 Implement a research process by collaborating effectively with other students.
      • Grade 4

        • 4.RP.1 Apply a research process as part of collaborative research. 4.RP.1.1 Implement a research process by collaborating effectively with other students.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 3

  • Goal 2: The learner will apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.
    • Objective 2.02: Interact with the text before, during, and after reading, listening, or viewing by:
      • setting a purpose.
      • previewing the text.
      • making predictions.
      • asking questions.
      • locating information for specific purposes.
      • making connections.
      • using story structure and text organization to comprehend.
    • Objective 2.05: Draw conclusions, make generalizations, and gather support by referencing the text.

Information Skills (2000)

Grade 3

  • Goal 3: The learner will RELATE ideas and information to life experiences.
    • Objective 3.03: Identify bias and stereotypes.
    • Objective 3.05: Describe how information and ideas are influenced by prior knowledge, personal experience, and social, cultural, political, economic, and historical events.
  • Goal 4: The learner will EXPLORE and USE research processes to meet information needs.
    • Objective 4.01: Identify information needs and formulate questions about those needs.
    • Objective 4.05: Gather information.