Henny Penny is a fairy tale which is sometimes included in the collection of Aesop’s Fables. Like most of these types of tales, there is a lesson to be learned. This story also has the added features of rhyming names and a cumulative story line, which is attractive to young readers and listeners. The story has several versions with different and sometimes gruesome endings. The version chosen here is retold and illustrated by Paul Galdone. Even though the fox eats Henny Penny and all of her friends, the author implies that the fox is only feeding his family.
Listen For New Words
Encourage the use of context clues as students guess the word meanings:
Acorn: hard fruit/nut of the oak tree
Struck: hit "… an acorn fell out of a tree and struck her on the head."
Shortcut: faster way to get somewhere "Come with me and I will show you a shortcut to the King’s palace."
Five Friends and a Fox
How are the five friends alike? All have two feet, feathers, come from eggs
How is the fox different? four feet, fur, eats meat
Can You Hear the Rhyme?
The animal names sound silly. Can anyone tell us what is special about each of them? They rhyme. Ask students to think of a rhyming word that goes with the name of each person in the class. Some students will hear the rhymes easily. Other students will have some difficulty hearing what words go together. You may want to practice with a few simple names first. Say the name with and without a rhyming word and see if the students can hear which ones rhyme. For example: Which two rhyme? Billy-Chilly or Billy-frog. Jason-Chasin’ or Jason Jumps.
The rhymes may have to be silly “words" that aren’t actual words. You may even have to use the child’s last name. Here are some examples:
Michael Motorcycle, Sue Blue, Amy Blamey, Jan Ran, Eric Hysteric, Justin Bustin’, Dylan Chillin’, Ava Brava, Emma Gemma
Assign six students different parts to play from the book. It would be great if you had some animal facemasks. You can make them or buy them already made. For word recognition practice, you can have each student hold a card saying who they are. You may choose to read the book as students act it out or let them improvise with Henny Penny leading the way. Encourage them to make their animal sounds as they go along: cluck cluck, quack quack, gobble gobble and so on. Since no pigs are involved, you can let them all “ham" it up!
When Henny Penny thought that the sky was falling, all her friends believed her without question. Nothing bad would have happened if Henny Penny had just looked around to see what really struck her on the head. What can we learn from that?
Give some examples:
1. Let’s suppose your crayons were missing. Before you look for them, you blame the person next to you for taking them. Now that person is mad at you. Then you find out that your crayons have only rolled off the table and they are on the floor under your chair. What should you do? What have you learned?
2. Your mother finds you new pants torn and she blames you for being careless. Even though you didn’t tear your pants, you have to stay in your room as punishment. How do you feel?
3. Your toy car is missing and you blame your brother. You run to mom and tell her what your brother has done. Mom tells you that she put it away so that no one would trip over it. How do you feel?
In your discussion with the students, hopefully they will understand that they should not jump to conclusions when unexpected things happen. We should look for a reason why it happened before blaming someone or doing something silly like Henny Penny did.