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Weston Woods
For 50 years Weston Woods Studios has been the principal innovator in the translation of picture books into the audiovisual media. Our adaptations are faithful reflections of classic children's picture books designed to motivate beginning, struggling, reluctant and limited English language proficient readers to WANT to read.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf Discussion Guide

In The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the shepherd boy gets bored watching his sheep all afternoon. All they do is munch, munch, munch, and say "Baaaaa". The shepherd boy tries to get the sheep to play games with him, but they aren't interested. Finally, he thinks of a plan to spice up life in the pasture. He cries that a wolf is after his sheep, and all of the townspeople come running. The shepherd boy spends the rest of the afternoon playing with one of his friends. After the wild success of this trick, the shepherd boy cries the next day that there are two wolves after his sheep. Again, the townspeople come running. But when three wolves really do come, will the shepherd boy get the help he needs?


  • Students will identify the elements of a fable.
  • Students will discuss honesty and responsibility.
  • Students will compare and contrast fables.
  • Students will make connections with the text.

Before Reading Activities

Elicit background knowledge about fables. Guiding questions:

  • What is a fable?
  • What fables do you know?
  • What happens in the fables that you know about?
  • What do you like about fables? What don't you like?

Read aloud several fables. Identify the main elements of fables: usually some sort of magical element; a choice between doing right and doing wrong; a problem to solve; a lesson or moral at the end. Make a chart with these elements and guide students to fill it in for the fables that you read aloud. Encourage children to look and listen for these elements as they view the movie.

Introduce problem solving to the students. Guiding questions:

  • Have you ever been in a sticky situation in which you had to use your brain to get out offind a solution? Describe what happened. How did you solve the problem?
  • Why is it important to find solutions to problems?

Give students different scenarios of problems to solve. Give them choices of reasonable and unreasonable solutions. Discuss why some solutions are more reasonable than others. Ask students to suggest other solutions that you did not provide. Tell students to watch for how the shepherd boy solved his problem in the book.

Discuss responsibility with students. Guiding questions:

  • Define responsibility.
  • What responsibilities do you have at home?
  • What happens if you don't fulfill your responsibilities?
  • Have you ever been dishonest because you didn't want to take care of your responsibility? What happened?

After the discussion, tell students to pay attention for the ways that the boy in the book fulfills his responsibility and the ways that he doesn't.

After Reading Activities

Use the fable elements chart that you created in the Before Reading Activity to identify the elements in The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Then, use a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the elements from different fables. Have students create their own fables using these elements. This could be a whole class exercise in which the students work together to create characters and a plot. Work through the writing process to write at least two drafts. You can scribe the story for developing writers and the students can illustrate it. Then, you can bind the pages together to make a published piece.

Discuss honesty with the students. Guiding questions:

  • What is honesty and why is it important?
  • How did the shepherd boy's dishonesty hurt him? How did it endanger his sheep?
  • What do you think the townspeople will do if wolves come again?
  • How can the shepherd boy gain back the trust of the townspeople?

Next, guide students through making connections between the text and their own lives. Ask:

  • Have you ever been dishonest before? Why?
  • What happened when you were dishonest? Did anyone ever find out? Was anyone else hurt or affected by your dishonesty?
  • What did you have to do to gain back the trust of the people you were dishonest with?
  • If you have never been dishonest, what were the benefits of telling the truth?

Close the discussion by talking with students about how lies often lead to other lies. Present scenarios in which the students have a choice between telling the truth and telling a lie. Let them practice role-playing telling the truth in sticky situations.

Play a game. Offer a challenge in which students stand up, one-by-one, and tell their favorite foods to eat. The first student to go stands and says: "My name is _________ and I love to eat __________." The next student stands, links arms with the first person and says: "This is ___________, s/he loves to eat __________. My name is ___________ and I love to eat __________." Continue this process, with each progressive student saying the names of all of the other students in the line and their favorite foods. As this becomes increasingly difficult, students who can't remember the list of names and foods sit down. Finally, end the game challenge by connecting it to what happens when we lie. Tell students that lying sometimes becomes like a game challenge, where you have to remember all of the lies you told before. As this becomes harder and harder, people begin to disbelieve what you say.

Video programs about fables and stories involving problem solving available from Weston Woods include:

The Boy Who Cried Wolf, by B.G. Hennessy, ill. Boris Kulikov

James Marshall's Cinderella, retold by Barbara Karlin, ill. by James Marshall

Favorite Fairy Tales: Chicken Little, retold by Steven Kellogg

The Emperor's New Clothes, by Hans Christian Anderson, ill. by Nadine Bernard Westcott

The Three Billy Goats Gruff, by P.C. Asbjornsen & J.E. Moe, ill. by Marcia Brown

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China, by Ed Young

Seven Blind Mice, by Ed Young

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka, ill. by Lane Smith


For Public libraries sales call 800-243-5020 / For School Library sales call 800-621-1115.

This guide may be photocopied for free distribution without restriction.

Copyright 2008 Weston Woods.

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