The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

Teacher Guide by Elizabeth Pedro

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The Black Stallion Lesson Plans

Student Activities for The Black Stallion Include:

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley is a fictional novel about Alec Ramsey, a boy who is in a shipwreck with a beautiful, wild, black stallion; the boy and horse realize they need each other to survive.

The Black Stallion Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

The Black Stallion Character Map

In this activity, students will depict the characters in The Black Stallion by Walter Farley using a character map. Have students pay close attention to the physical and character traits of both major and minor characters. Students will provide detailed information regarding how the characters interact with the main characters, as well as challenges the characters face.

Characters included in the character map are:

  • Alexander “Alec” Ramsey
  • The Black
  • Pat
  • Henry Dailey
  • Napoleon
  • Tony
  • Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey
  • Jim Neville
  • Joe Russo

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The Black Stallion Text Evidence

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Provide students with a question or prompt to answer with a storyboard using textual evidence. The example prompt is, "Alec is viewed as a kind, caring person. What actions demonstrate these character traits?" Possible answers to the prompt include:

  • Alec feeds the horse sugar cubes and wouldn’t leave him locked away during the shipwreck.
  • Alec was disappointed that he didn’t have enough money to repay the captain.
  • Alec made the horse as comfortable as possible in Henry’s barn.
  • Alec brought Napoleon along on the trip to Chicago.

Other prompts might include: “Did Alec change over the course of the story? Why or why not?” and “Explain how Alec’s decision to keep the Black greatly impacted others.”

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that answers the prompt using at least three examples from The Black Stallion. Click on "Add Cells" to change the number of examples.

  1. Type the question into the central black box.
  2. Think about examples from the text that support your answer.
  3. Type text evidence in the description boxes. Paraphrase or quote directly from the text.
  4. Illustrate each example using scenes, characters, items, etc.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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The Black Stallion Vocabulary Lesson Plan

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In this activity, students demonstrate their understanding of several words using a spider map. After choosing the word(s), students provide the part of speech, definition, an example from the text, and demonstrate their understanding of the word(s) through an illustration in the related storyboard cell.

Example Vocabulary Words from The Black Stallion

  • stallion
  • reins
  • cautiously
  • gully
  • harness
  • bridle
  • query
  • column
  • momentum
  • remnants
  • canter
  • gallop

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in The Black Stallion by creating visualizations.

  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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Point of View in The Black Stallion

Point of view provides the eyes, ears, and thoughts of a character. By analyzing point of view, students can gather insight to the author’s purpose, theme, and voice. In this activity, students will examine the author’s point of view and identify ways it is unique in understanding elements of the story.

The Reader and Alec Experience Action at the Same Time

  1. “In the afternoon he groomed the Black until the stallion’s black body glistened, and his long mane fell smoothly down on his neck.”

  2. “Suddenly he let loose on the reins and the stallion bolted. He gained momentum in mighty leaps.”

  3. “Answering the pleas of the hundreds grouped around them, Alec took a few roses from the huge bow of flowers draped around the Black’s neck, and then threw the rest of them into the throng.”

The Reader Knows Alec’s Thoughts

  1. “When he came up, his first thought was of the ship; then he heard an explosion, and he saw the Drake settling deep into the water.”

  2. “Without stopping to think, Alec grabbed hold of [the rope]. Then he was pulled through the water, into the oncoming seas.”

  3. “Alec forgot his problems in the beauty of the stallion as he swept along, grace in his swift stride, his black mane and tail flying.”

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The Black Stallion Theme

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Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard. The theme provides a moral to the story and is the central idea behind the text. Through analyzing themes, students can delve deeper into the text’s meaning and apply the moral to their own lives. In this activity, students will identify a theme of The Black Stallion and support it with evidence from the text.

Example Themes from The Black Stallion


  1. “If the stallion was alive, he was going to set him free and give him his chance to fight for life.”

  2. “He only knew that he had had his choice of remaining in the water alone or being pulled by the Black. If he was to die, he would rather die with the mighty stallion than alone.”

  3. “The days passed and the boy strove desperately to find food to keep himself alive; he caught only one more fish - it would be impossible for him to depend upon the sea for his living.”


  1. “He put the sugar in the palm of his hand and hesitantly held it out to the stallion.”

  2. “You just have to take us both, Captain! I can’t leave him!”

  3. “Alec took his handkerchief and wrapped it around the Black’s leg to try to stop the bleeding.”

Other possible themes include: determination, kindness, companionship, and love.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in The Black Stallion. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.

  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify the theme(s) from The Black Stallion you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for examples that represent this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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A Quick Plot Synopsis of The Black Stallion

Alec Ramsey boards the Drake after two months visiting his Uncle Ralph in India. On his way to England, the Drake stops at a small port in Arabia where a glistening black, wild stallion is boarded onto the ship. As the Drake travels south of Spain, a sea storm hits; lightning strikes the ship and the passengers board the lifeboats in a panic. Alec frees the stallion, whom he calls, the Black, and both are left floating in the water as the Drake sinks to the bottom of the ocean. Alec notices a rope still attached to the horse’s neck, and he grabs on, thinking that he’d rather die with the horse than alone. The Black swims with the waves until they arrive on land.

Alec and the Black survive on the island by finding fresh water and food, and by building a shelter. Alec and the Black realize they need each other to survive and Alec is able to ride and train the Black. After twenty days stranded on the island, a ship arrives. Alec convinces the captain to take the Black on the ship with them.

Alec returns to New York and reunites with his parents, who agree to let Alec keep the horse, as long as he takes care of it. Alec and his family ride straight to Mr. and Mrs. Dailey’s place where Alec asks permission to keep the Black in their barn. The Daileys agree and Alec moves his horse into the stall, next to an old gray horse named Napoleon. The Black and Napoleon immediately bond with each other, much to the relief of Alec who knows the Black is quite nervous in the unfamiliar environment.

For the next few months, Alec takes care of the Black before and after school, brushing him, feeding him, and riding him around the field. Henry Dailey, a retired horse racer, sees the potential of the Black to be the fastest horse in history. Henry and Alec work together to train the Black; they bring the Black and Napoleon to the race track in the middle of the night to practice racing. However, their racing dreams are nearly extinguished because the Black doesn’t have papers, which prevents him from being able to enter a horse race.

Henry and Alec continue their secret practices while holding onto one last bit of hope. The country is riled up over whether the Cyclone or Sun Raider are the fastest horses. Jim Neville, a sports columnist, suggests having a competition between the two horses in Chicago to determine who really is the fastest. Later, Jim hears news of the Black and attends one of the night practices. He can barely believe how fast the Black is. Jim arranges to have “a mystery horse” compete against the Cyclone and Sun Raider in the Chicago race.

Henry and Alec are ecstatic about the opportunity. They bring both the Black and Napoleon to Chicago for the race. Just before the start, Sun Raider injures the Black’s leg. Alec begins to climb out of the saddle to check out the injury, but the starter doesn’t notice and the race has begun! The Cyclone and Sun Raider have a head start, but with Alec hanging off the side, the Black races towards them. He closes the gap and ultimately wins the race. Thousands of people, including Alec’s parents, cheer, photographers snap photos, and a horseshoe of roses are placed on the Black’s neck. The Black set a new world record. Alec promises that the people will be seeing a lot more of him and the Black in the future.

Essential Questions for The Black Stallion

  1. Why do people have relationships with animals?
  2. Why is kindness an important character trait?

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•   (English) The Black Stallion   •   (Español) El Semental Negro   •   (Français) L'étalon Noir   •   (Deutsch) Der Schwarze Hengst   •   (Italiana) The Black Stallion   •   (Nederlands) The Black Stallion   •   (Português) O Garanhão Preto   •   (עברית) סטאליון השחור   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) والحصان الأسود   •   (हिन्दी) द ब्लैक स्टैलियन   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Черный Жеребец   •   (Dansk) Den Sorte Hingst   •   (Svenska) The Black Stallion   •   (Suomi) Black Stallion   •   (Norsk) The Black Stallion   •   (Türkçe) Siyah Aygır   •   (Polski) Czarny Ogier   •   (Româna) Negustorul Negru   •   (Ceština) Černý Hřebec   •   (Slovenský) Čierny Žrebec   •   (Magyar) The Black Stallion   •   (Hrvatski) Crni Pastuh   •   (български) Черният Жребец   •   (Lietuvos) Juodosios Eržilas   •   (Slovenščina) The Black Stallion   •   (Latvijas) Black Stallion   •   (eesti) Musta Stallion