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Japanese Crane Fable

What's the secret of the Japanese Crane fable? Explore Asian literature with feathers in this cut-paper project.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Read the Japanese fable "Tsuru no Ongaeshi" to students. The fable's main character plucked its own feathers to weave into cloth. Why did it do this?
    2. Invite students to create their own feathers. To begin the crane feather project, students fold several sheets of white paper in half and cover their work area with recycled newspaper. Use Crayola® Watercolor Paints to create a large feather on each sheet, using the fold line as the center of the feather. Allow to air-dry.
    3. Students cut out the paper feathers with Crayola Scissors. Cut small slits into the colored sides of the feathers to give them texture. Ruffle these slits with fingers.
    4. Use Crayola School Glue to attach feathers to drinking straws. Arrange them on colored construction paper or in a vase for a colorful reminder of the Japanese Crane fable.
    5. Invite students to write original fables. Use the feather as symbols in the fables. Students share their original fables with small groups of classmates.
  • Standards

    LA: Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

    VA: Explore and understand prospective content for words of art.

    VA: Identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times, and places.

  • Adaptations

    Working in small groups or teams of two, students re-read the Japanese fable Tsuru no Ongaeshi. Students select one scene from the fable to illustrate using Crayola Erasable Twistable Crayons. Use the eraser on the Twistables to blend the feather colors.

    Students use their original feathers to create a weaving just as the crane did in the fable. Students make several feathers and line them up horizontally. Using strips of colorful paper to weave under and over them, glue the strips at the top and bottom. Display weavings as wall-hangings.

    Students investigate how to fold an origami crane. Learn more about cranes and the Asian legends that include them.


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