Animal Language

The Jungle Book Tales2go Audio Books

Standards and Objective

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.4.4
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.

Materials

  • A white board or chart paper to create a class list of terms and phrases.

Tales2go Titles

  • The Jungle Book Stories by Rudyard Kipling

Activity

In The Jungle Book, the author writes from the point of view of the jungle animals.  Many of the terms that the animals use for things we know are also renamed.  The author employs very illustrative language.  While students may have seen animated versions of the story, as they listen they will notice that animals tell us who they are by using language that shows who is nervous, protective, calm, and territorial.  The animals also have rules, etiquette and a hierarchy in their society, just as we do.  As you listen to the audiobook, listen to the terms the animals use and create new definitions based on what a human would say, or what a human equivalent would be.  For example, a senior wolf could be a village elder, the council might be The Senate,  “The Rock” could be “The White House” or a town hall.

Play the first 15 minutes of The Jungle Book Stories. (In later class sessions, you may wish to share more of the story.)

As a class, create a list of terms or expressions the animals use. Be sure to use some that are more obvious as models, including:

  • Man cubs
  • Fostering of man cubs
  • Mouth of the cave
  • Mowgli the Frog
  • Law of the Jungle
  • A chorus of growls
  • Life may be bought at a price
  • He will scorch in the sun

Students may find interesting turns of phrase that are metaphors about nature, danger, relationships and weather. These can be added to the list, as well.

Summary: Student can either give a definition or offer something analogous, like the senior wolves, who are similar to an admissions committee.  The pack is like a clique at school or a clan.  Students should write their definitions individually, but should share their responses back orally, focusing on the terms that are the main ideas that drive the story.  The first segment of the story lays the groundwork for the entire audiobook, so most of the offerings the students will have will “set the stage” for later listening.

Extensions and Variations

Students who are new to analyzing phrases in English may prefer to illustrate their responses.  For example, Mowgli isn’t literally a frog, but he is a fur-less being, compared to the other jungle animals. Have the students draw Mowgli among his “foster” or adoptive parents, or show him “scorched in the sun” with a sunburn, living among the animals who have fur (or scales) to protect them.

Fun Fact:
The Boy Scouts of America have adopted The Jungle Book as a framework for the Cub Scouts program, including calling their leader, Akela (head wolf) but it seems that the author wrote the stories for his daughter, who died at age six in 1899.

About the Common Core

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) lay out very specific listening requirements, by grade, as part of a dedicated strand for speaking and listening skills. The standards specify the use of ‘other media’ within the standards, e.g., “CCSS.ELA-Literacy 3.2 Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.”
Listening is placed on equal footing with reading, writing and speaking. And for those tempted to just pair audio with visual text, that approach is common and valid with emerging readers, but not what the standards intend.
The CCSS also requires students to comprehend texts of steadily increasing complexity as they progress through school. Audio books can act as an important scaffold that allows students to read above their actual reading level.
Learn more at www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy.