1. Distribute and read Student Handout- ‘My mother
is the most beautiful woman in the world’ as a shared
reading experience. Discuss the folktale. Questions to ask might
• How do we know the mother loved her daughter?
• How do we know the daughter loved her mother?
• What idea (value) about “being beautiful”
did Varya demonstrate in the story?
• Is the story similar to any other story you know? Which
Highlight the fact that the people were only looking on the
outside, for physical characteristics but the daughter knew
the beauty within.
NOTE: The story is a Russian folktale, but it has many other
forms across cultures, example the Ugly Duckling, Beauty and
the Beast, the Frog and the Princess. These stories or others
could be read to students to show that many cultures around
the world have stories about the importance of getting to know
the ‘beauty within’ rather than making judgements
about them on the basis of external appearances.
2. Ask the students to identify a ‘beautiful’
person like Varya’s mother in their lives and list some
reasons why they are beautiful to them at the bottom of the
3. Ask students to take their completed handout and sit in two
circles, facing a partner. On a signal ask one student to talk
to his/her partner for 60 seconds about their person and why
they are beautiful to them. (Partners listen only.)
4. At the end of the minute, change roles and give the second
student 60 seconds to speak.
5. After both partners have spoken, ask the inside circle to
move 3 places to the left. Each student will now have a different
partner. Repeat rotation as many times as you like.
6. Brainstorm generalisations about the qualities that make
someone ‘beautiful’ in the way that Varya’s
mother was beautiful. Ask students if they can identify who
taught them their ideas about ways of ‘being beautiful’.
NOTE: Ideas (values) about ‘being beautiful’ are
suggested by many sources, including family, friends, peers,
community, school, cultural heritages, society, media. Some
ideas are accepted, some are adapted to better fit personal
beliefs, and some are rejected.
7. Conclude the lesson by drawing on student discussions
to establish that families can be a strong influence on
beliefs and values, such as our ideas about what is beautiful.
Worksheets to download
mother is the most beautiful woman in the world’
Friends and Peers
Feelings About Myself
ESL Activities 3: Cultural
Activities 4: Different
Activities 5: Iceberg
Activities 6: Pride
Activities 8: Who
Activities 9: Journeys
ESL Activities 10: Our
Paths to Australia
ESL Activities 11: A
Mixed Bag of Apples
Activities 12: Victims
Activities developed by teachers at Beverly Hills Intensive
English Centre, NSW