Grade Appropriate units:
This complete unit plan can be taught in 5 weeks, or lesson components
can be taught individually within 15 days as described below.
The focus for students in this age group is to compare and contrast
the different genres of folktales and myths. Depending on time
and curriculum needs, you may want to focus on a specific activity.
Project Introduction (1 Day)
Depending on time available in class, assign a myth and a folktale
as homework or read an example of each genre as a class. Point
out that folktales are stories passed on from one person to the
next by word of mouth or by oral tradition. Discuss defining elements
of folktale (for example: takes place anytime, takes place anywhere,
animals can talk, etc.) and write them on the board in one column.
Then discuss the myth read aloud, and add another column to write
the elements of myths including elements such as supernatural
characters, extraordinary powers or tools, natural phenomena,
etc. Explain to students that they will be exploring and writing
their own folktales and their own myths.
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. Encourage students
to take notes on the characteristics of folktales. They will need
this later when they compare this genre to myths.
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
- 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
At this point, students should have been taking notes on the
elements of the folktale and folklore genres. As a class, you
can create a complete list on the board.
Continue your studies by studying the myth genre. Instruct students
to continue their list of characteristics but this time for myths.
Myths Around the World
Explain that students will be reading myths that originated all
over the world. Then encourage students to read through the myth
stories. Share a world map with students. Show them how the countries
on the map correspond to the various countries introduced in this
lesson. Have students talk about what they know about each country
or geographic location.
Encourage students to read through the various myths from the
world regions. Then ask them to compare the culture of the myth
they've been studying with that culture's contemporary counterpart.
Have students in small groups answer the following questions:
How are the two cultures' myths different from and similar to
one another? Do you think the differences/similarities are due
to their locations or time in history? Why?
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 graphic organizer. Students can use the chart 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.
Add to the list on the board of folktale genre characteristics
by adding a new column for myth characteristics. As a class, students
should add to the list based on their notes from their research.
Comparing Myths and Folktales (12 Days)
On the board, there should be two columns of character traits
one for myths and one for folktales. Hand students printouts
of the Venn
Diagram (PDF) graphic organizer. Have students fill in the
organizer with the words on the board. Which characteristics are
completely different? Which characteristics do they share? These
shared characteristics should be placed within the overlapping
circles. Once students have finished filling out the Venn Diagram,
hold a wrap up discussion.