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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Allegories in Action

This lesson can be used as a stand-alone lesson on allegories, or as pre-visit materials to the Bruce Museum’s exhibition “Carnival of Animals,” a collection of allegorical statues by Bjørn Okholm Skaarup.

The following lesson helps Connecticut teachers in grades 3-5 meet the English Language state standards of: asking and answering questions to demonstrate understanding of text; recounting stories, such as fables, to determine central messages, lessons, or morals; describing characters in a story, and how their actions contribute to the sequence of events in the story; distinguishing literal from non-literal language; and explaining how illustrations in the text are conveyed through words. The lesson will also meet the state Visual Arts standards by: considering, selecting, applying a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas; reflecting upon, describing, analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating their own and others’ work; and making connections between the visual arts, other disciplines, and daily life.  (English Language standards 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.7 and Visual Arts standards 1, 5, 6)

Present this lesson to your students as a slide show to introduce them to written and visual allegories. At the end of this lesson, students will recognize that not all stories and pictures have literal meanings. They will be able to recognize and interpret symbolism through the use non literal language and visual details. They will recognize that when words and images are used together, readers can make stronger connections to a story. At the end of the lesson, allow students to write their own allegories, and then create visual representations through a medium of their choice to demonstrate their understanding of symbolism in text and art.  

Please print out the attached stories of "The Grasshopper and the Ants" and "The Hare and the Tortoise" to share with your class. 

Created By

Teresa Steneken


English Language Arts, The Arts

Grade Level


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