The Monkeys and the Dragonflies


A dragonfly was flying along through a jungle in the Philippines, and stopped to rest on the branch of a tree. The monkeys who lived in the tree ran over, chattering, and told her to leave.

“This is our tree!” they jeered. “You can’t sit here!”

“I am so tired,” said the dragonfly softly. “I just want to rest a bit before I fly on.”

The monkeys refused to allow the poor dragonfly to rest.

When the King of the Dragonflies heard what had happened, he sent an angry message to the monkeys. “Since you were so unkind to our sister,” he said, “we will come after you!”

The monkeys laughed. They knew they were bigger than the dragonflies. “Bring it!” they said.

The dragonflies came and gathered. The monkeys saw how small they were and laughed at them. “We’ll swat you!” chattered the monkeys.

Then the King of the Dragonflies told his brave soldiers to fly up to the faces of the monkeys. “Hover in front of their foreheads!” he said.

The monkeys swatted at the dragonflies, but because the dragonflies were in front of the monkey’s faces, the monkeys ended up swatting each other’s faces.

The dragonflies were so quick and clever that they flew away without being hurt at all. The clever dragonflies won the battle and left the strong but unkind monkeys quarreling with each other.

This folktale from the Philippines is a good one for Asian-American Heritage Month or for insect units. Here’s one way to use the story in the classroom:

  • Read this story to your class, using Feelings Puppets if your students are little.
  • As a class, divide the story into scenes. For young children, ask “What happened first?” and “Then what happened.” Older students can be asked to identify the scenes. Possibilities could be the dragonfly resting on the branch, the monkeys making her leave, or the monkeys laughing at the dragonflies.
  • Divide the class into groups and give each group a scene. Ask the students in each group to draw a picture of their scene.
  • Arrange the pictures in order as the scenes take place in the story. You can put them up on the wall, make them into a Big Book, or use them to create a slideshow or PowerPoint.
  • Have students help you retell the story.

Older students can go ahead to make some more connections:

  • Insect lesson plans
  • Monkey lesson plans
  • Verbs: the story contains some interesting verbs like “swat” and “hover.” Have students find all the verbs and list them on word cards. Make sure everyone knows what each word means and try to use them in retelling the story.
  • The Philippines have sent lots of people to the United States. Learn about the Philippines from these online resources:
  • Ask students to identify all the places in the story where there could have been a different outcome. For example, the monkeys could have welcomed the dragonfly or left her alone. The King of Dragonflies could have spoken to the monkeys about the problem instead of attacking. The monkeys could have seen the likely consequences of trying to swat the dragonflies on each other’s faces. Ask students to think of a conflict they’ve experienced and to come up with points along they way where different choices could have been made.
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