Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Creatures that Are Just So

Christy Carpenter
Bay District Schools


Students listen to Rudyard Kipling's "Just So" stories read aloud. After observing an animal, students create their own "Just So" stories and publish them on Beacon's SiteMaker.


The student establishes a purpose for writing (including but not limited to explaining, informing, telling a story, making a request).

The student writes for a variety of occasions, audiences, and purposes (for example, journals to reflect upon ideas, reports to describe scientific observations).

The student uses electronic technology to create, revise, retrieve, and verify information (including but not limited to word-processing software, electronic encyclopedias).

The student creates a central focus through the use of suspense, humor, creativity, or fantasy.


-Background on Rudyard Kipling (See Weblinks) or video: Rudyard Kipling, January Productions, 1987. (Available from Merritt Brown Middle School library)
-“Just So” stories (See Weblinks)
-Field trip to Zoo World or magazines, books, Websites containing different animals
-Computers with Internet connection
-Word or comparable software for word processing
-Disks (optional)
-Animal Notes worksheet (See Associated File)
-SiteMaker permission slip (See Associated File)
-SiteMaker “Just So” Certificate (See Associated File)


1. Prior to beginning this lesson, explore SiteMaker. It can be accessed by going to and choosing SiteMaker under Student Resources. To receive information and the ability to use SiteMaker with the students, email This information and permission to use SiteMaker allows you to publish the "Just So" stories that your students create.
2. Arrange a field trip to view the animals or gather the necessary resources for research. To schedule the use of the Zoo World classroom, call Betty Marler at (850) 872-4897 or Lesley, Education Director at Zoo World at (850) 230-1065. (Zoo World is located at Panama City Beach, Florida.)
3. Become familiar with the Kipling background information and practice reading the "Just So" stories aloud. Choose the ones that you like the best. Most appropriate for Zoo World are "How the Camel Got His Hump" and "How the Leopard Got His Spots," because those animals are available for viewing at Zoo World. Stories can be printed, however, you need to practice reading them aloud before reading them to the students.
4. Find a good spot to take the class for the reading of the stories.
5. Make sure to have computers ready, including a word processing software.
6. Duplicate the SiteMaker permission slip, Animal Notes worksheet and the SiteMaker “Just So” Certificate for each student. (See Associated File)
7. Complete a model Animal Notes worksheet to share with the students. (See Procedures, Part I, step #3)
8. Gather disks if you opt for students to save their work on them.


1. If possible, go outside. (If at Zoo World, go to the picnic area near the petting zoo Dromedary Camel.) Ask students to name their favorite animals. Ask them to describe the animals. Students will name some animals that have very distinctive characteristics. Ask students if they know why the pig's tail is curly or why a raccoon seems to have on a mask, etc. Try to use the animals that the children talk about. Tell students that Rudyard Kipling wrote stories to explain why the camel has a hump and why the rhinoceros has baggy skin. Share the background about Rudyard Kipling with the students (this could be done before this lesson if you choose to watch the video), then read a couple of the "Just So" stories aloud to students. Allow time for discussion and enjoyment. Ask students to create an oral, imaginative version together of why the kangaroo has a pouch or why the monkey has a long tail. Let them be creative and imaginative.

2. Tell students that they will be writing their own "Just So" stories. If possible, take a field trip to a zoo (Zoo World in Panama City Beach offers a classroom available for teachers to use) or a place where there are live animals (science lab-fish and mice, animal vocational program-chickens and rabbits, resource people with live animals-reptiles and insects). If not, provide lots of resources for students to use. These might be books, Internet, wildlife magazines, etc. As students observe the animals or do research about the animals, they need to use the Animal Notes worksheet found in the associated file. Go over the sheet and explain that students will be taking notes on the animals that they will use to create their stories. Model how this might be done on an animal you choose. Tell students to choose one animal on which to take notes.

3. After students have had time to take their notes on their chosen animals, refer to the model Animal Notes you created. Use the information on the page to orally create a "Just So" story. Point out the characteristics of Kipling's "Just So" stories: fairly short; explains a characteristic of the animal; involves a conflict; animals think and talk. Ask the students to look at their notes and see if they can come up with a “Just So” story in the same format. Give them about 5 minutes of silence to think.

4. Pair students. Instruct them to quietly share their "Just So" ideas with the partner. Partners may offer advice. Allow 5-6 minutes for each pair to share the two stories aloud. (At this point, students are just putting their ideas together. Sometimes saying something aloud helps to clarify and refine.)

5. Have students return to their seats quietly. Instruct them to begin writing their "Just So" stories. Circulate and offer assistance. Encourage good word choice, excellent descriptions, etc. Allow 15-20 minutes or so.

6. When students have finished, ask them to get with their partners again. Have them exchange and read stories. Again, they may offer advice or ideas. Partners may also help with grammar and spelling. Those who aren't quite finished may need to finish their stories for homework. Formatively assess students for correct group behaviors as they work.

7. Pass out the SiteMaker permission slips (See Associated File) and stress the importance of having them signed and returned.

1. Make sure students have returned the permission slips for using SiteMaker.

2. At this time, allow students to use the computers to type their stories on Word or another word processing program. Show the students how to use the Spell Check and Grammar Check tools.

3. Circulate and offer assistance. Students should save their work on the desktops or on a disk. You may need to model this and then circulate to make sure students save their work correctly.

4. Once students have finished and edited the stories, model how to use SiteMaker. It might be easier to work with small groups, teach them how to use it, and then allow them to teach others.

5. The stories can be copied and pasted into SiteMaker. Prior to this lesson you need to explore SiteMaker, which is a program online that allows students to create reports with pictures, sound effects, and movies to be posted to the Internet through Beacon Learning Center. Parents and grandparents anywhere can then view the report (via the Internet). At all times, the teacher controls what appears on the site. The SiteMaker presentation of the story is completed by adding a graphic, sound, movie, or referenced Websites as appropriate and available through SiteMaker.

6. The finished story is then electronically submitted to you for review.

7. Review the finished presentation and either approve it for display on the Web, or return it to the student for further editing. At this point, any misspelling/grammar errors need to be corrected.

8. Send home the SiteMaker URL to encourage family and friends to access the "Just So" stories and to celebrate the completion of this activity. Complete the “Just So” Certificate in the associated file for each student to take home so as to remind them how to access the story.


1. Formatively assess the student's Animal Notes worksheet to make sure accurate notes have been taken.
2. Formatively assess the student's interactions with his partner to make sure he is on task and responding appropriately to his partner.
3. Assess the written "Just So" story to make sure that it meets the four criteria: fairly short; explains a characteristic of the animal; involves a conflict; animals think and talk.
4. Assess students as they work to type their stories on the computer and then into SiteMaker. Students should be able to create, revise, retrieve, copy and paste using the computer.
5. Offer feedback and guidance as students may need several chances and much practice before they are proficient.


1. ESE students can draw pictures of the animals and share their stories orally.
2. Have a student research and report on Rudyard Kipling to the class. This information can also be entered on SiteMaker.

Web Links

Web supplement for Creatures that Are Just So
All of Kipling's Just So Stories

Web supplement for Creatures that Are Just So
How the Leopard Got His Spots, including pictures

Web supplement for Creatures that Are Just So
A Biography of Kipling

Web supplement for Creatures that Are Just So
Zoo Books

Web supplement for Creatures that Are Just So
Animal Scramble

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