Clever Tortoise: A Traditional African Tale
By Andrea Cline (firstname.lastname@example.org), Abby Huggins (email@example.com), and
Laura Greene (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Creative drama: story drama, improvisation
Grade Level: 5th grade
To explore a folktale from a different country
To understand how sound contributes to a story
To work together in small groups
To discover positive, alternative ways to handle bullying
North Carolina Theatre Standards:
Competency Goal 1: The learner will write based on personal experience and
heritage, imagination, literature, and history
1.03 Describe lessons related through multicultural literature.
1.06 Create dialogue in which characters attempt to resolve conflicts
Competency Goal 2: The learner will act by interacting in improvisations and
2.03 Participate in dramatic activities that deal with conflict and emotions.
2.07 Assume the role of a variety of real and non-real characters.
Competency Goal 4: The learner will direct through planning and presenting
informal or formal productions.
4.05 Compromise with peers in small group decision making about artistic
4.07 Use the role of a narrator to guide, prompt, and assist actors.
The book Clever Tortoise: A Traditional African Tale by Francesca Martin
Jungle Sounds CD
Map of Africa
Fabric pieces for animal costumes
Source: The book Clever Tortoise: A Traditional African Tale by Francesca Martin
Ask students to lie on the floor, close their eyes, and imagine they are in a jungle.
Teacher turns on the CD and explains that the jungle is filled with a variety of sounds,
including animals, trees, water, etc. Ask students to think of a particular sound they might
hear in the jungle. Explain the activity: teacher will tap several students one at a time. If
they are tapped, they make their sound. After several students make jungle sounds, allow
whole class to make their sounds at once. Explain that the teacher will turn down the
volume of the jungle, counting down from 10 to 1. By the time the teacher reaches 1, the
jungle should be silent. After explaining directions, play game. Follow up by asking
students what sounds they heard for a transition into the story.
Review good listening traits and introduce the story’s geographical setting: Lake
Nyasa in Tanzania, Africa
Read the story, emphasizing voices and onomatopoeias. Occasionally make
comments throughout the story, asking students to recognize sounds, pictures, and
different conflicts throughout the story.
Ask the students what the main conflict was in the story. How was this conflict
resolved? What other ways could Tortoise solve Elephant and Hippo’s bullying?
Explain to the class they will be divided into small groups, and they will share an
alternative way to solve the Elephant and Hippo’s bullying through drama. Each
group needs to work together to choose one narrator to explain their resolution.
Everyone else must be involved. (4.05 and 4.07)
Divide students into small groups of 4-5.
Give students 5-10 minutes to plan scene. While they are planning, circulate
between groups and hand out fabric for costumes. (1.06)
Have them present their resolution. (2.03 and 2.07). Make sure to comment after
each scene, sharing positive feedback about their scene.
Assessment and Reflection:
Regroup students and facilitate discussion using the following questions as a
guide (1.03). Explain that no names should be used in our discussion.
1. Were most of the resolutions that you have shared with us storybook or
real-life ways to deal with the conflict?
2. What are some real-life examples that you have experienced with bullies?
3. How have you or your friend handled the situation?
4. You all thought of different ways that the tortoise could have handled the
bullies. What are some POSITIVE ways that you can handle bullies?
Make a comic strip of a way that you would handle bullying.
Write a journal entry of when you were bullied or bullied someone and how you