Why not celebrate International Literacy Day on 8th September and Roald Dahl’s Birthday on 13th September by using RM Books?


In this lesson learners will read and discuss Roald Dahl’s ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’. They will study the similarities and the differences in the characters. They will compare the Roald Dahl story to the original fable and discuss the similarities and differences. The learners will then undertake a differentiated extension task with various options, involving considering a letter of complaint, writing a newspaper article, designing an animal and creating an alternative ending.


  • To read, dissect and critique ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’ and demonstrate an understanding of the key themes by applying them to different genre.

Learning Outcomes

  • All children will understand that Roald Dahl’s ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’ is a comedic poem with a moral message.
  • Most children will be able to apply their understanding of the themes of the poem to different writing genre.
  • Some children will be able to demonstrate how this version of the story differs from the original.

Learning Intentions

  • To develop an understanding of the key themes of ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’ by Roald Dahl
  • To demonstrate an understanding of the key themes by applying them to different writing genre
  • To understand that fables are poems or stories that have a moral message

Cross curricular / Interdisciplinary learning Links

  • RME: Development of beliefs and values


fable, characteristic, cunning, moral

Teaching Steps

Step 1 – Login to Glow and find ‘RM Books’

Click on ‘App Library’ at the top left of your Launch Pad.


Click on ‘All Apps’ and search for ‘RM Books’.

Click on RM Books and ‘Add to Launch Pad’.

Now find RM Books on your Launch Pad and open it.  Search for ‘Rhyme Stew’ and ‘Allocate’ it as you wish (you can buy 1 copy for allocate it to a group, for example).

Find ‘The Tortoise and The Hare’ and read this with your class.

Step 2 – Class discussion

Discuss the poetic style with the class, explaining that it is a comedic poem written in rhyming couplets and that it is a rewrite of a very famous Aesop fable.  Ask learners if they enjoyed the poem and why?

Next in talking partners, learners should discuss the following question:

‘Which adjectives could we use to describe the three characters in the story?’

After a couple of minutes, learners should brainstorm their answers on the board, each character having a section of the board.  It is important at this point to identify whether there are any similar characteristics between them, for example, all three were quite sneaky and equally quite selfish – similar characteristics should be underlined or highlighted.  Characteristics identified from the brainstorm could be displayed in a Venn diagram that highlights all of the similar characteristics.

Step 3 – Compare Texts

The Tortoise and the Hare has been adapted from a very famous fable by Aesop, the moral of which is, ‘slow and steady wins the race.’  The two stories are quite different but have many similarities.

Can learners remember what happens in the original fable?

  • How different are the characters of the Hare and the Tortoise in the two stories?
  • Which story do you prefer and why?
  • What do you think the moral of Roald Dahl’s version of the story should be?

Once the poem, the characters and the general plot have been discussed and explained, split the class into four ability-based groups.  The four activities are all to be question based and will focus on different aspects of the poem.

Step 4 – Group Tasks

Higher Ability Group

Show this group this letter from Mr Hare’s solicitor, suing Mr Rat for damages, based on the loss of a valuable eating spot and personal injury to his feet.

The group should prepare a counter argument after considering the following questions:

  1. Was Mr Rat directly responsible for damaging Mr Hare’s feet?
  2. Did Mr Hare show any sympathy or concern for his opponent Mr Tortoise?
  3. Could it be said that Mr Hare was of ‘good character’ himself?
  4. Could it be said that Mr Hare was in fact a thief as he took food from Old Mister Roach’s cabbage patch?

Mid to High Ability Group

This group are to write a newspaper report on the race based on the key points of the poem, such as:

  • The reasons the race took place in the first place
  • The expected outcome at the beginning of the race based on interviews with key characters
  • The surprises in the race such as Mr Tortoise speeding off at 50 mph
  • The surprise ending set by Mr Rat
  • A twist to the story – perhaps Mr Rat is arrested for devious behaviour?

Mid to Low Ability Group

After re-reading the story, with support, the group should prepare an alternative ending based on the following questions:

  1. Should Mr Rat win as he has been very cruel and cunning?
  2. Has Mr Rat done anything illegal?
  3. Does anyone actually deserve to win?

The new ending should be written in the same style as Roald Dahl’s original poem.

Low Ability Group

This group are to design an animal that is guaranteed to win this race usingwww.buildyourwildself.com (a free online tool, you can add this to your Glow Launch Pad for easier access). The animal created should have features that will prevent it from being defeated by the cunning plans of both Mr Tortoise Mr Rat.

Links to the Curriculum for Excellence

This idea can contribute to gathering evidence for the following Experiences and Outcomes.


This lesson plan was featured in a Glow Brochure which was sent to every school in Scotland, if you did not receive the brochure and would like us to send you one please email rmunify@rm.com 

Found this lesson useful? Tweet us a picture of your class @RMUnify using this lesson idea and you could be in with a chance to win £100 worth of amazon vouchers.

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