Classical Writing Aesop

Book I: Aesop
Progymnasma Fable • 3rd - 4th grade


Theory The Aesop Series of Books
Analysis & Imitation What to Buy
Practice (Writing Projects) Frequently Asked Questions

Fable is the beginning step of the ancient Greek writing exercises known as the progymnasmata.  For this exercise we have chosen Aesop, whose name has become synonymous with fables, as our mascot for the introductory level of Classical Writing. Aesop gives beginning writers a gentle introduction to basic grammar, sentence structure, and analysis and imitation of short narratives.  Our aim is retelling those short narratives accurately and with good writing mechanics. The models in Aesop are chosen from Aesop’s fables, fairy tales, well-written historical narratives, Bible stories, and fairy tales.

Aesop is designed to be used during the first two years of writing instruction, typically third to fourth grade. The skills learned in Aesop are a necessary foundation for all that follows in Classical Writing. Even your older students need to master these skills. Usually they can do so in far less time. The Older Beginners series of workbooks guide older students quickly through Aesop and the next level, Homer.


All the grammar needed at this level is taught in the Aesop text. Using a gentle, sequential approach, your students will cover capitalization and punctuation, sentence classification, and direct and indirect quotations. They will be introduced to the parts of speech and learn the elementary rules of correct usage.
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Analysis and Imitation

In Aesop, we teach a four day routine for analysis and imitation. Each day we work with the weekly model (a fable or story) practice writing. 

One of our main goals in using this method is to help your students begin to develop copia—a variety of ways to express the same thought.
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Practice (Writing Projects)

Each week, students will write a retelling of the weekly model. They will learn to retell a story in chronological order, and to amplify it by adding dialogue and descriptive details. From the beginning, they will learn that writing is a process, and that editing is part of that process. Editing routines are taught step-by-step to make this process easy. Our student workbooks include editing checklists for each week’s writing project.  These lists also help teachers evaluate their students' progress.
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The Aesop series of books:

Aesop is the non-consumable teacher text for the Aesop program.  For a student starting in the 3rd grade, this book provides two years of instruction. In order to make Aesop a "pick up and go" curriculum, our non-consumable Instructor’s Guides have models, daily lesson plans, and teaching helps included in the text, all designed to keep you on track.  The accompanying consumable Student Workbooks include a copy of the model for the student to mark up, space to do most of the exercises for each week, and editing checklists for each week’s writing project. 

Each level of the Student Workbooks and Instructor’s Guides is divided into eighteen weeks, for a total of 36 weeks. This provides plenty of writing instruction for 3rd and 4th graders, with ample time in the school year to apply skills learned in Classical Writing to other subjects.  We include additional forms to aid in this.

Although we highly recommend that you use the Instructor's Guides and Student Workbooks, you may plan and schedule your own lessons using just he Aesop text.  The optional Traditional Tales may be a help to you in this case.  It contains models (fables, fairy tales, short historical accounts, and Bible stories).  You can use these to build your own lessons.  Do not purchase this book if you use the Student Workbooks.

If you have older students starting in the Classical Writing series, please see Place Your Student for additional help in deciding what to buy.
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View the Scope and Sequence for Aesop

View the suggested Literature List for Aesop and Homer

What to Buy for Aesop:

• core text needed for all study of Aesop
• contains model suggestions
• for beginners of all ages
• two years of work for a typical 3rd-4th grade student
Preview Sample Pages

For the first year of Aesop work:

Student Workbook A
• consumable
• 18 weeks of assignments covering first half of Aesop
• includes all models and grammar assignments
• editing checklists for each writing project
• requires Instructor's Guide A
 Preview Sample Pages

Instructor's Guide A
• non-consumable
• essential with Student Workbook A
• 18 weeks of daily lesson plans and review
• has teacher helps (including some answers) and notes
• includes help for applying lessons to other subject areas
Preview Sample Pages

For the second year of Aesop work:

Student Workbook B
• consumable
• 18 weeks of assignments covering second half of Aesop
• includes all models and grammar assignments
• editing checklists for each writing project
• checklists for optional writing project in another subject
• requires Instructor Guide B
Preview Sample Pages

Instructor's Guide B
• non-consumable
• essential with Student Workbook B
• 18 weeks of daily lesson plans and review
• teacher helps and notes
• answers to optional diagramming and grammar work
• includes help for applying lessons to other subject areas
Preview Sample Pages

Also Available:

Flashcards for Workbooks A and B
• FREE downloadable pdf
• grammar flashcards from workbook appendices
• reproducible forms in printable format


Traditional Tales
• Models for "Aesop". You do not need this book if you have purchased workbooks A, B or "Older Beginners".

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my student is ready for Aesop?

A beginning Aesop student should be spelling comfortably at a 2nd grade level or higher and reading beginning chapter books independently.

What else should my student be doing along with Aesop?

You will also need: 
    a spelling program - we recommend a systematic phonics approach
    a handwriting program
    a typing program - optional, but highly recommended

For 4th graders working in Aesop Student Workbook B, a basic diagramming resource like Mary Daly's First Whole Book of Diagrams is optional; there are also many good resources on the internet for teaching basic diagramming.  See our Helpful Links page.

I’d love to buy Classical Writing but we are on a tight budget, and I have many students coming down the line.

Aesop and Homer and Poetry for Beginners are all two year non-consumable books. All the Instructor’s Guides are non-consumable, also. In fact, all the core books are non-consumable.

It may be possible to only purchase one Student Workbook and use it as a non-consumable book by having your students do their work on the computer or on separate paper instead of marking up the book.

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