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Zlateh the Goat by Isaac Bashevis Singer

Teacher Guide by Elizabeth Pedro

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Elementary School Category

Student Activities for Zlateh the Goat Include:

Short story “Zlateh the Goat” by Isaac Bashevis Singer reveals the close, trusting relationship that occurs between humans and animals.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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A Quick Synopsis of "Zlateh the Goat" (Contains Spoilers)

Hanukkah is right around the corner and it is unusual that snow hasn’t fallen. Reuven the furrier, a family man who makes fur garments, is not getting enough business and decides to sell Zlateh, the family goat, to the butcher. Aaron is responsible for taking Zlateh to town; his mother wipes her tears and his sisters wail over the loss of their goat. The family says goodbye to the goat and Zlateh licks their hands happily, unaware of what will happen to her.

Aaron and Zlateh walk awhile toward town. Soon, however, the weather begins to change. A large black cloud with a bluish center appears in the east and spreads itself rapidly over the sky. A dense snow begins to fall and a cold wind blows. Aaron no longer knows where he is, and he cannot see through the snow. The snow becomes thicker and thicker, and Zlateh refuses to go any farther. Aaron knows they need to find shelter quickly or they will freeze to death.

Aaron spots a hill in the distance; the hill is a haystack covered in snow. He creates a hole to enter the haystack and crawls in. Aaron and Zlateh are saved; Zlateh eats the hay all around her, and Aaron eats the small snack he brought with him. Aaron is still hungry and drinks milk straight from Zlateh’s udders.

The storm continued for three days. Aaron makes sure to poke a hole through the snow for air, he drinks from Zlateh’s udders when he is hungry, cuddles with her to keep warm, and tells her stories to pass the time. Aaron loves Zlateh like a sister.

On the fourth day, Aaron hears sleigh bells coming from the road. The peasant driving the sleigh points Aaron to the direction of his town. Aaron’s family and neighbors had been out searching for him and Zlateh, but had decided that they were lost, and were very upset. One of the neighbors rushes in to tell them Aaron is on his way home. Everyone is elated! The family never considers selling Zlateh again, and with all the snow, Reuven the furrier receives more business, allowing for delicious pancakes to be served and Hanukkah to be celebrated. Occasionally Aaron asks Zlateh if she remembers those three days together, and Zlateh responds in her usual loving way.

Essential Questions for "Zlateh the Goat"

  1. How do relationships change during difficult times?
  2. Are animals able to communicate, question things, or draw conclusions? Why or why not?
  3. What role does trust and loyalty play in a friendship?
  4. Can there be a special relationship that occurs between humans and animals? Why or why not?

Zlateh the Goat Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Character Map for "Zlateh the Goat"

In this activity, students should depict the characters of the story, paying close attention to the physical and character traits of both major and minor characters. Students should 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:

  • Aaron
  • Zlateh
  • Reuven
  • Leah
  • Anna
  • Miriam
  • The Peasant
  • The neighbor
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Frayer Model for Vocabulary in "Zlateh the Goat"

In this activity, students demonstrate their understanding of vocabulary words using a Frayer Model. After choosing a word, students provide a definition, characteristics, examples (synonyms), and non-examples (antonyms) of the word. Students may be provided the vocabulary words, or they can use words that they have discovered through their reading of the text.

This example uses the word “good-natured”.

  • Definition: Having or showing a pleasant, kindly disposition
  • Characteristics: “While the family said goodbye to the goat, and Aaron placed the rope around her neck, Zlateh stood as patiently and good-naturedly as ever.”
  • Examples: Amiable, cordial, friendly, good-hearted
  • Non-examples: Aloof, cool, disagreeable, hateful
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Themes in "Zlateh the Goat"

Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify a theme of “Zlateh the Goat”, and support it with evidence from the text. One theme is “trust”. Zlateh puts all of her trust in humans.


Trust

  • “Zlateh trusted human beings. She knew that they always fed her and never did her any harm.”
  • “She didn’t ask any questions even though she had an uncomfortable feeling of where Aaron was taking her.”
  • “Zlateh’s bleating began to sound like crying. Those humans in whom she had so much confidence had dragged her into a trap.”

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Sequencing in "Zlateh the Goat"

An exceptional way to help your students follow a story is to have them track the events from it. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of a plot, it also reinforces major events, which helps students develop greater understanding of how the events fit together to provide the overall structure of the story.

This example identifies six main events:

  1. Reuven tells Aaron to bring Zlateh to the butcher so the family will have enough money for Hanukkah.
  2. The family is devastated to lose Zlateh; they cry and say goodbye to her.
  3. On the way to the village, a massive snowstorm hits and Aaron loses his way.
  4. Aaron finds shelter in a haystack; he survives by milking and cuddling with Zlateh.
  5. Aaron and Zlateh have a stronger bond than ever, and Aaron vows never to give her up.
  6. On the fourth day, Aaron makes his way back home; his family is delighted about their return, and never consider taking Zlateh to the butcher shop again.
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Point of View in "Zlateh the Goat"

In this activity, students will examine the narrator’s point of view and identify what it reveals about the characters using textual evidence.

In this example, the narrator knows Zlateh’s, Aaron’s, and the family’s thoughts and actions.

  • Zlateh’s thoughts and actions: “And Zlateh would scratch her neck with a horn, shake her white bearded head, and come out with the single sound which expressed all her thoughts, and all her love.”
  • Aaron’s thoughts and actions: “As for Aaron’s dreams, they were all about warm weather. He dreamed of green fields, trees covered with blossoms, clear brooks, and singing birds.”
  • The family’s thoughts and actions: “Aaron’s family and their neighbors had searched for the boy and the goat but had found no trace of them during the storm. They feared they were lost.”
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Figurative Language in "Zlateh the Goat"


Copy Assignment



“Zlateh the Goat” contains figurative language, including personification and similes. In this activity, students can display their understanding of figurative language by identifying examples, and creating a literal or figurative portrayal of the figurative language.

Figurative Language Examples

DESCRIPTION EXAMPLE
Personification Giving human-like characteristics to non-human objects or abstract ideas The wind whistled, howled, whirled the snow about in eddies. It looked as if white imps were playing tag on the fields.

The moon swam in the sky as in a sea.
Simile A comparison using 'like' or 'as' The wind became as cold as ice.

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


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows three examples of figurative language in "Zlateh the Goat".


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify use of figurative language in the text.
  3. Put the type of figurative language (such as simile or metaphor) in the title box.
  4. Give an example from the text in the description box.
  5. Illustrate the example using using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.



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





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•   (English) Zlateh the Goat   •   (Español) Zlateh la Cabra   •   (Français) Zlateh la Chèvre   •   (Deutsch) Zlateh die Ziege   •   (Italiana) Zlateh la Capra   •   (Nederlands) Zlateh de Geit   •   (Português) Zlateh a Cabra   •   (עברית) Zlateh התיש   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) Zlateh الماعز   •   (हिन्दी) बकरी Zlateh   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Zlateh Коза   •   (Dansk) Zlateh ged   •   (Svenska) Zlateh Geten   •   (Suomi) Zlateh Vuohi   •   (Norsk) Zlateh Geit   •   (Türkçe) Keçi Zlateh   •   (Polski) Zlatko Kozła   •   (Româna) Zlateh Capra   •   (Ceština) Zlateh Kozla   •   (Slovenský) Zlatá Koza   •   (Magyar) Zlateh Kecske   •   (Hrvatski) Zlatka je Kozla   •   (български) Златат Козата   •   (Lietuvos) Zlateh Ožys   •   (Slovenščina) Zlateh Kozo   •   (Latvijas) Zlateh Kaza   •   (eesti) Zlateh Kitse