Skip to main content

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Three Billy Goats

Three Billy Goats

The Three Billy Goats Gruff Unit Study

The Three Billy Goats Gruff was one of my children's favorite fairy tales. My oldest wanted to make costumes for the characters, my son wanted to build the bridge and my youngest wanted to learn all about goats. What a great opportunity for doing a unit study! The kids liked the idea so we began our quest for goat information and experiences.

It turns out that we had a couple of different versions of the story right on our bookshelf as well as a farm book which explained a bit about animals found on farms including goats. We read these stories and kept notes on the similarities and differences.

Reading the classic tale of the Three Billy Goats Gruff is a delightful way to kick off a unit study about goats. We compare fiction and non-fiction, make graphs, build bridges and play lots of games.

Later on that day we went grocery shopping and discovered Goat's Milk, Goat Cheese and Goat's Milk Soap. Goat's milk and cheese are staples in many parts of the world which easily leads us into a study of cultures and geography as well as animal husbandry and domestication of the wild goat.

We explored related math concepts such as small, medium and large as well as exploring the number three in order to gain number sense. For higher level math we skip counted by threes and calculated the amount of hay needed to feed a goat for a year.

Having three children of my own lent itself naturally for choosing who would play each part when we put on the play. Should I feel worried that they chose me to be the troll?

In order to present our findings we wrote our own books, presented plays and did several craft projects.

Come build a bridge for the troll to hide under as the three goats cross to better pastures...

The Tale of the Three Billy Goats Gruff

Three Billy Goats Gruff with Troll

Three Billy Goats Gruff with Troll

The Tale of the Three Billy Goats Gruff

Once upon a time there were three Billy Goats named Gruff who lived together on a mountain side. On their side of the mountain there was hardly anything to eat, but just across the way was a beautiful pasture of green grass. On the way to this pasture they had to cross over a bridge, but under the bridge lived a big bad troll.

Nearly every child has heard this tale. The Baldwin Project has a free to read online version of The Three Billy Goats Gruff written with simple text and beautiful illustrations. Notice that most of the words in this version are high frequency, sight words making it easy for beginning readers to read on their own.

The text is long, however, so I found my children enjoyed it when I printed just a few lines on each page. We took turns reading the pages.

Once they knew the story and the order of the lines well, we played games finding specific words.

  • Highlighter tape can be used to find specific words

Because so many words are repeated in this story it can be fun to count the number of times each word is written.

  • Make a second copy of the text but use this copy to cut apart the words for sorting.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff Puppet Theater - Three Billy Goats Puppet Theater

Have you watched the Sound of Music with your children yet? There is a scene where the children use puppets to retell the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff while singing a yodeling song from the alps.

My children loved recreating this scene with their own puppet theater and goat puppets or marionettes.

This version has words printed Karaoke style, wonderful for beginning readers.

Scroll to Continue

The Lonely Goatherd from the Sound of Music

Compare Versions of The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Write you own Billy Goats Gruff version

Read various versions of this classic tale.Make a graph to show how they are alike and how they are different. Use Venn Graphs to show the comparisons and contrasts.

Then discuss how the different choices an author makes in order to change the story for the reader. Using this example, the children can write their own stories of the Three Billy Goats Gruff.

  • What would happen if the goats were bullies and the troll was kind?
  • How would the story change if you replaced the goats with other animals?

Three Billy Goats Gruff Bilingual Flannel Board Story

Provide several ways of reenacting the story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. The puppet theater encourages writing down the script as well as making program bills, tickets and reviews.

Teaching Spanish with the Three Billy Goats Gruff

The flannel board version has printed words to help with learning to read. More words or sentence strips can easily be made by gluing them to flannel.

Billy Goats Finger Puppets could also be made in the art center and have words written on the back to help children read words such as troll, biggest, smallest etc.

The story can also be used to help children learn Spanish. Starting with the familiar tale, children can be taught the words for goat, cabra, bridge, puente and other words which they substitute for the words in English. Then teach them phrases such as Who is going over my bridge? Quien va sobre mi puente? Soon the children will be learning and saying more and more words in Spanish and this natural way of introducing vocabulary will have them crossing the bridge to Spanish in no time. Come be Billy Goata! Vamos a ser cabras!

Las Tres Cabras

Billy Goats in the Sensory Table

Brass Yosemite Relief Map at Glacier Point

Brass Yosemite Relief Map at Glacier Point

Creating a Mountainous Habitat

When children recreate a scene from stories they have read or make up stories from facts they have learned they internalize the information and integrate it into their core knowledge. Create the setting for The Three Billy Goats Gruff story and intrigue your tactile learners. Promote oral communication as the children manipulate the three goats, discuss the meaning of gruff and explore the habitat where the Three Billy Goats live.

1. Make hills and valleys with oil based clay or play dough.

2. Use toothpicks for supporting a bridge.

3. Pour water down the riverbeds to see how the water always flows downhill.

4. Add the goats and use a small wooden doll for a troll.

To make this sensory table activity even more accurate of the Three Billy Goats Gruff habitat. Add some potting soil and grass seed. Over the weekend, cover the table to let the grass seed sprout. On Monday morning the children will be delighted to find that the Three Billy Goats Gruff have real grass to eat.

Building Bridges - Build a Bridge for the Three Billy Goats Gruff

These books are essential for any classroom. They spark the imagination and offer direction when needed.

Challenge children to make bridges from different materials found in the classroom.

We have made bridges from toothpicks and marshmallows, stones, clay, Lego Bricks, sugar cubes, natural sticks and stones, and much more.

Keep a record of the ideas that worked and those that didn't.

Take digital photos and make a class book.

Toothpick Bridge Construction

Build the Billy Goat's Bridge

Build the Billy Goat's Bridge

Build a Bridge for the Goats to Cross

Get into groups of three and pretend that you are billy goats who want to cross the river. How will you build your bridge? What materials will you use?

What are the characteristics of a bridge that will help you cross to the other side of the river to get to the green grass?

What will make your bridge strong enough or high enough to prevent the troll from knocking each of the goats down into the river?

Make a plan and use material found in the classroom, house or natural environment.

Be sure to take lots of pictures so that you will be able to create a book so show how you built your bridge.

Science Fair Bridges - The Three Billy Goats Gruff go to the Science Fair

The Three Billy Goat's Bridge Maze

Riddles for the Troll

In some versions of the story, the goats must answer riddles to cross the bridge. My kids had a great time looking up riddles to ask each other as one played the troll and the other the goats.

We found lots of riddles at the Public Library.

Crossing the Bridge - The Goats go to PE Class

For this wonderfully cooperative game you will need two long boards . They should be long enough for all the class to stand on them side by side at the same time.

Lay the boards down end to end in a straight line and have the children line up on the boards facing the teacher.

Variation: Lay the boards parallel about 2 feet apart and ask your little goats to help each other cross from one bridge to the other.

This game, inspired by Margaret Meads's research encourages cooperation, negotiation and helping.

Goat Counting Game - Billy Goat Gruff Math

Sketch of a Goat

Sketch of a Goat

Counting Goats Math Game

  • Free maths game: Counting goats! | Maths Blog
    Had enough of counting sheep? Try counting goats! Free Math Game Bo Peep has lost her sheep and now she has some goats. More counting. This time it's goats rather than sheep. Set up a computer and you have a center for practicing counting up to 5.

Raising Goats - How to care for goats!

A Sicilian Couple Milk their Goat

A Sicilian Couple Milk their Goat

Raising Goats

There are over 210 breeds of goats. Some are raised to give more milk. Some give richer milk. Some are grown for their wool. Others are raised for their meat.

What would be your reason for raising goats? Use Storey's guide to help determine which type of goat you would like to raise and defend your decision.

Use that information to create a business plan showing how, within a year or so, your business will be profitable.

Will you sell milk, cheese, hides, baby goats, goat meat?

Don't forget to include the cost of feeding, housing, and marketing in your business plan.

How to Milk a Goat

Cows aren't the Only Ones to produce milk. Goats are milked around the world and goat's milk makes delicious cheese.

Did you know that around the world more people get their milk from goats than from cows? Here are instructions for learning How to Milk a Goat.

1. Suspend a rubber glove over a sink or dishpan.

2. Prick a tiny hole in each finger.

3. Pour water in the top.

4. Pretend to milk the goat.

Milking Goats - Gladys Bruce and her Dairy Goats

Gladys Bruce was a friend of my grandmother's who kept a small herd of goats. She said that she always like goats better than cows. She liked the taste of goat's milk better as well.

Each day she tended her goats, caring for them, cleaning their barn and milking them.

Watch this video of her from 2007 to get a feel for what it would be like to own a small herd of goats.

Gladys Bruce was my grandmother's friend. She kept a small herd of goats for many, many years. She passed away Feb 4, 2014.

Goat Word Center - Small, Medium and Large Goat Words

Materials: Scrabble letters in the word "goats".

Worksheet with 3 goat outlines that are small, medium and large.

1. Children rearrange the letters to form as many words as possible.

2. Write the small 2 letter words on the small goat.

3. Write the medium 3 letter words on the medium goat.

4. Write the large 4 letter words on the large goat.

Possible words include: go, at, to, so, got, tag, sat, goat, tags, and oats.

It is much easier for children to find the words when they can rearrange the letters manually rather than trying to do it in their heads. This is why we use the Scrabble Tiles.

Goat and Troll Math Activities - Patterns and Questions

Arrange the goats and trolls in patterns such as goat, goat, troll.

Three Billy Goat Gruff Math Pattern - ABC Patterns in Math

The Three Billy Goats Gruff go across the bridge in an ABC pattern of small, medium, large. The Three Bears also come in small, medium and large. This pattern can be translated into other objects and repeated like in this acorn, shell, leaf, acorn, shell, leaf, acorn pattern.

What other objects could you use to make the ABC pattern of the goats?

Counting Goats by 3's - Skip Counting by 3's

Skip Counting Goats by 3's

Skip Counting Goats by 3's

Draw a circle of goats.

Notice that there are three goats in each position.

Label the goats in multiples of 3's ie: 3. 6. 9...

Cut out and Laminate.

Print a picture of a bridge with a troll beneath.

Attach the goat wheel to the back of the bridge with a paper fastener.

Begin skip counting by turning the wheel.

Goat Math

Hay, Equals Sign and Dollar Bill

Hay, Equals Sign and Dollar Bill

Photo Credit: Haystack on WPClipart, Public Domain

Photo Credit: Equals Sign on WikiMedia, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: One Dollar Bill on Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Pocket Calendar

Nylon Classroom Calendar Pocket Chart

Nylon Classroom Calendar Pocket Chart

The Three Billy Goats Gruff Word Problems - Three Billy Goats Math Problems

For younger grades, write one problem a day on chart paper and help the children as a whole group work out the problem in a concrete way.

For Example:

During the winter, the billy goats stay in the barn and eat hay. Hay costs $0.50 for each bale. They all share one bale each day. How much does it cost each week for hay?

1. One child suggested that we could use yellow pattern blocks for hay bales.

2. Another got out the three goats.

3. Someone pointed out that there are 7 days in a week.

4. If each hay bale costs fifty cents then two bales cost $1.

5. We still had one bale left over and that was worth fifty cents.

Goat Problem

Each bale of hay costs 50 cents.

Each bale of hay costs 50 cents.

Goat Themed Word Problems

We wrote the answer on the board.

With each step we re-read the problem to make sure that we were headed towards the right answer.

This group process helps children to review the math they are learning and prepares them for more complicated word problems in later grades.

  • Math Stories
    Word problems related to The Three Billy Goats Gruff story.

Goat Coloring Pages - Goat Anatomy

Billy Goat

Billy Goat

Make copies of this goat. Label and use it as a Goat Word Wall. Give children copies of the goat with lines instead of words for the children to use in a Write the Room center.

Goat Coloring Pages

Balancing Goats - Goats balance on a flexible metal bridge!

The Grass is Always Greener - Grow some Green Grass for the Goats

Grass for the Goats

Plant some grass seed and learn about the tender shoots that the goats cross the bridge to eat.

1. Put some potting soil in the sensory table.

2. Sprinkle grass seed over the soil and press down gently.

3. Put on the clear cover and move to a sunny window.

4. Keep the soil damp but not wet.

5. The grass seeds should sprout in about 5 days.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff - Three Billy Goats Books

Having several versions of the Three Billy Goats Gruff available makes it possible to compare them. This work in comparison can help children to see the possibilities in their own writing. How would they change the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff to make it their own version?

Give a Goat This Christmas

  • Give a Goat This Christmas - Parenting
    If your family is looking for meaningful ways to reach out to others this Christmas, try one of these ideas: 1. Get Their Goat Donate a goat to a family in India ($120) or a cow to a Romanian village ($50 for a share). The Heifer Project catalogue (

Chat with The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Gregory Moore from Louisville, KY on May 30, 2013:

I always loved this story. Well done.

dakadare on May 28, 2013:

Great lens!

Jogalog on May 28, 2013:

Lovely lens! Apparently the three billy goats was my favourite book as a young child and my mum had to buy another copy of it as the first one fell apart from being read and played with so often.