Grade Appropriate units:
This complete unit plan can be taught in 45 weeks, or lesson
components can be taught individually within 15 days as
The focus for students in this age group is to learn the folktale
and folklore genres as well as explore the world of myths. Depending
on time and curriculum needs, you may want to focus on a specific
activity or genre.
Folktales Project Introduction (1 Day)
Ask students to discuss what they think folktales means.
Point out that folktales are stories passed on from one
person to the next by word of mouth or by oral tradition. Share
a folktale from Nina Jaffe's book Tales for the Seventh Day:
A Collection of Sabbath Stories, or other folktale you are
familiar with. Discuss defining elements of folktale (for example:
takes place anytime, takes place anywhere, animals can talk, etc.)
and write them on the board and have students point out genre
characteristics of the folktale being read aloud.
Folktale Writing With Alma Flor Ada and Rafe Martin (10 Days)
Tell students that now that they have gathered information about
folktales, they are ready to explore writing one. Have students
begin the Folktale
Writing with Alma Flor Ada and Rafe Martin.
1: Folktales: Have groups of three students take turns
reading "Half-Chicken" or "The Shark God."
Ask them to use storytelling voices, and practice fluency through
2: Brainstorming: Read the Brainstorming tips with the
whole class. Use "Half-Chicken" or "The Shark
God" as a model to illustrate tip ideas as you read them.
For example, when reading that the folktale genre entails imagining
the world that acts as the setting, remind students that rivers
and fires can speak in Half-Chicken's world.
3: Write Your Folktale: Suggest that small groups discuss
the Alma's and Rafe's challenges on this page. Remind students
also to refer to the Brainstorming tips as they draft their
- Step 4: Publish
Online: Once they've completed their revision, have
students follow directions to publish their folktale online.
Encourage students to use the Preview option to proofread their
stories one more time before submitting. They should also print
the preview page to hand in for teacher assessment.
Folklore (34 Days)
Have students read "What Is Folklore?" and "Finding
Folklore" and the samples of folklore provided in each. Invite
volunteers to offer an example of each of the following kinds
of lore: "children," "community," "family,"
"behavioral," and "oral." You may wish to
rotate small groups of students to do the online reading or print
out the appropriate pages for students to read offline.
- Tell students they will research folklore with their family
and then publish their findings online.
- Ask students to read "Your Folklore." Print out
a copy of the Research tips.
- Practice interviewing techniques in the classroom before
assigning students to interview parents and family members.
- Have students share their interviews with the class.
- Make a copy of the submission requirements. Post it in the
classroom or distribute copies to students.
- Schedule online publishing slots for each student.
Remind students that folktales were originally told and not written.
Tell students they are going to create an oral version of a folktale.
- About Storytelling Print the page before hand or have
small groups read the page together online, writing down four
main points about folktales. Invite groups to share information
with the class.
- Listen & Watch Download Flash ahead of class time
if you don't already have it. Then invite small groups to view
"How Monkey Stole the Drum" and record the story's
folktale features. Revisit the Folktale Writing Workshop and
listen again to Rafe Martin and Alma Flor Ada reading their
folktales as well.
- Becoming a Storyteller Invite students to choose an
established folktale upon which they will base their oral tale.
Suggest that students plot the following parts when constructing
their outlines: Story Beginning, Story Problem, Story Middle,
Solution, Story Ending. Have students fill these in using the
established folktale. Then suggest that students use the outline
as a framework for constructing an original tale.
- Imagination Exercises Suggest that groups read both
activities and choose the one they want to do to practice their
oral and spatial storytelling skills.
- Telling Tales Together Have students test out their
folktale knowledge by trying this interactive activity.
- It's Your Turn Allow students time to rehearse telling
Project Wrap-up (23 Days)
Give students time to finish up any outstanding activities. Use
this time to schedule a storytelling performance day. Assess students'
proficiency with the storytelling activity by consulting the activity
rubric (see assessment and evaluation). If students complete the
project ahead of time, have them respond in their journals to
the following questions:
- How is telling a story different from reading a story?
- What is special about listening to a story told by a storyteller?
- What can you learn from knowing about folklore?
- What is special about a folktale?
Myths Project Introduction (1 Day)
As a continuation to the previous lesson or as a separate lesson
for students in this age group, introduce the myth writing genre
through the following lesson suggestions.
Introduce the word myth to the class. Ask students to
offer definitions of the term. Then encourage students to brainstorm
myths that they know. Have volunteers write examples on the chalkboard.
Read aloud Jane Yolen's myth "Mother
Earth's Son" with students to emphasize the oral heritage
of the genre. Have students organize genre features from the myth
on the board. Include categories such as supernatural characters,
extraordinary powers or tools, natural phenomena, etc.
With Jane Yolen (34 Days)
Divide students into same-level reading groups to read the four
Myth writing steps online. If you have limited computer access,
print out a copy of the steps for individual students to read.
Tell students that they will be following Jane Yolen's steps in
preparation for writing their own myths. Encourage note taking
by handing students the Setting
the Stage (PDF) graphic organizer. Students can use the stage to
organize their work. Suggest that they write the phenomenon they
chose on the top of the chart and fill the stage with the key
words that will describe their myth and their phenomenon.
After students read through Step 2: Brainstorming, Invite students
to use the Myths Brainstorming
Machine tool as part of the pre-writing process. Read aloud
with students the note and the directions, and encourage a question
and answer period about the process. Then schedule time for students
to use the machine individually. Let students know not to visit
the writing page of the machine until they are ready to write.
Going there erases their previous work. Students can use the writing
page to take notes or to write their draft copy of their myth.
Return to Jane Yolen's Step
3: Write Your Myth
Make sure that students use this part of the process to write
without self-correcting. Point out that they will have a chance
to revise later. Remind students to refer to a copy of their chart
from the previous step in the writing process, the myth from the
Brainstorming Machine, and any other material as they write. Have
students exchange papers with a peer for revision. Partners can
write their comments on the draft itself. While students revise
their drafts, have them check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation
Step 4: Publish
Online: Once they've completed their revision, have students
follow directions to publish their myth online.
Project Wrap-up (12 Days) Allow students to finish
up any of their outstanding projects. Use this time to assess
students' proficiency with the writing activity by consulting
the writing rubric. If students finish their projects early, have
them respond to the activity and questions below. Students may
wish to post responses on a school Web site or in their portfolios.
Provide a brief summary of your favorite
What did the myth teach you?
What did you learn about the culture from
How are myths different than fantasy books
or fairy tales?
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