Thursday, May 4, 2017

Children's Traditional Literature Unit Study--From Fables to Fairytales

For our little two family co-op I wrote an elementary literature unit study that explored all sorts of traditional literature: fables, myths, legends, tall tales, folktales, and fairy tales.  It was so much fun to find stories that would fit each theme and by the end, each of our 3 littles could list each type of story and what characteristics each type contained. This unit is roughly 18 lessons, but could easily be lengthened or shortened.  The children in our class were between 5 and 8 years old, but our two 10 year olds joined us from time to time when a particular story caught their interest.

I've included many links and web addresses to the books, activities, and coloring pages.  Most all the book selections can be purchased through Amazon, or checked out from your local library.

Lesson 1: Introduction to Fables

Elements of a fable: fictitious (not true or real)
                                 instructs in some kind of truth (moral)
                                 animals are usually the main characters and take on human characteristics such    
                                 talking, wearing clothing, and standing upright

Introduce and read a bit about Aesop

Choose and read several of Aesop's famous fables (many can be found online, or you can purchase a compilation of Aesop's Fables).  After reading each fable have students identify the elements that make the story a fable.

Enrichment activity: Choose a fable to draw

Lesson 2: Modernized Versions of Aesop's Fables

Review elements of a fable

Read newer versions of some favorite classic fables that have been made into popular children's books such as  Jan Brett's The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,  The Tortoise and the Hare, and the Lion and the Mouse both by Jerry Pinkney.  After reading each fable have students identify the elements that make the story a fable.

Enrichment activity:  Choose a fable for students to act out.

Lesson 3: Modern Fables

Review elements of a fable

Read modern fables such as Fredrick's Fables by Leo Leonni and Fables by Arnold Lobel
(Fredrick's Fables is a family favorite.  Some of the stories are fairly quirky and odd).  After reading each fable have students identify the elements that make the story a fable.

Enrichment activity: Have students either narrate a fable of their own or draw a picture of their own fable.


Lesson 4: Introduction to Myths

Review elements of fables.

Elements of myths: fictitious
                                main characters are usually gods and goddesses or demigods/goddesses
                                stories were meant to explain elements of the natural world and world origins
                                (i.e. how fire was given to man, how the sun and moon move across the sky, how    
                                 different constellations came into being)

Introduce Ancient Egyptian mythology, gods and goddesses and their dominions. This website is a great resource: http://www.historyforkids.net/egyptian-gods.html

Introduce Ancient Greek and Roman mythology, gods, and goddesses and their dominions.  It is fun to compare each Greek god with its Roman counterpart.  This website is a great resource: http://www.diffen.com/difference/Greek_Gods_vs_Roman_Gods

Read from D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths

Enrichment activity: Have students either draw their favorite mythological god or story or print god/goddess coloring pages for students to color.

Lesson 5: Norse Mythology

Review elements of fables and myths

Introduce Norse mythology. This website is a great place to start: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/vikings/beliefs_and_stories/

Read from D'Aulaire's Book of Norse Mythology

Enrichment activity: Have students draw a picture from Norse mythology or print a coloring page for students to color.

Lesson 6: Other Myths

Review elements of fables and myths

Read myths from other countries and cultures.  We read from African Myths and Legends by Dianne Stewart and Jay Heale, and Myths and Legends from Around the World by Sandy Shepherd

Enrichment activity: Choose a natural occurring phenomenon (such as lightening, a local river, favorite constellation) and have student narrate or illustrate an original myth about the phenomenon.

Lesson 7: Introduction to Legends

Review elements of fables and myths

Elements of legends: depict real events or people
                                   stories are exaggerated
                                   elements of mystery and magic are often present

Read Irish Legends for Children by Yvonne Carroll

Enrichment activity: Have students draw a picture of one of the legends or color a celtic coloring page

Lesson 8: Christmas Legends
(I arranged my lesson plans so the Christmas legends lesson fell during the last week of Advent)

Review elements of fables, myths, and legends

Read The Legend of the Poinsettia and The Legend of Old Befana both by Tomie dePaolo

Read from Christmas Stories and Legends

Enrichment activity: Print coloring pages of poinsettias for students to color. This website has a pretty and simple one: http://beccysplace.blogspot.com/2012/12/poinsettia-freebie.html

Lesson 9: Native American Legends

Review elements of fables, myths, and legends

Read The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, and The Legend of the Blue Bonnet by Tomie dePaolo
Read Buffalo Woman by Paul Goble

 Enrichment activity: Print out coloring pages of Indian Paintbrush, Blue Bonnets and/or Buffalo for students to color.  Bluebonnets: http://www.coloringpagebook.com/bluebonnet-flowers-coloring-pages/  Indian Paintbrush: http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/wyoming-indian-paintbrush
Buffalo: http://www.daycoloringpages.com/2013/05/printable-zoo-animals-coloring-pages-for-kids/buffalo-coloring-pages-picture-4/

Lesson 10: Introduction to American Tall Tales

Review elements of fables, myths, legends

Elements of Tall Tales: American Tall Tales originated as tales told around the campfires of cowboys
                                      and pioneers          
                                      most often about real people and historical times
                                      characters have super human powers
                                      historical elements but greatly exaggerated
                                      humorous problem solving

Read The Birth of Davy Crockett, John Henry, Febold Feboldson, First Citizen of Nebraska, Johnny Appleseed! Johnny Appleseed! from From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs.

Enrichment activity: Research the real characters and help students distinguish between historical facts and tall tale exaggeration.

Lesson 11: Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox

Review elements of fables, myths, legends, and Tall Tales

Read several of the classic tall tales about Paul Bunyan and Babe.  There are all sorts of books and websites devoted to these tales, any should do.  We used this website: http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/paul-bunyan/

Enrichment activity: Print coloring pages featuring Paul Bunyan and Babe for students to color.

Paul Bunyan: https://www.education.com/worksheet/article/tall-tales-paul-bunyan/
Other Paul Bunyan printable: https://www.thoughtco.com/paul-bunyan-printables-1832438

Lesson 12: Narrate/Illustrate an Original Tall Tale

Review elements of fables, myths, legends, and tall tales

Have students come up with a tall tale character of their own based on themselves.  Come up with problems they might need to solve and then have them narrate and/or illustrate a humorous way in which their character might solve the problem.

Alternatively, read several more American Tall Tales, such as Old Stormalong, Pecos Bill, Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett--many of which can be found online or in From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs

Lesson 13: Introduction to Folktales

Review elements of fables, myths, legends, and tall tales

Elements of Folktales: fanciful stories that may have some elements of truth but are mostly fiction
                                     usually part of an oral tradition passed down through generations
                                     usually part of a cultural heritage

Read It Could Always be Worse by Margo Zemach, Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears by Verna Aardema, and Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop

Enrichment activity: Have students draw a scene from one of the stories

Lesson 14: Fractured Folktales

Review elements of fables, myths, legends, tall tales, and folktales

Read any version of the classic Three Little Pigs story then read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and compare the two.

Read any version of the classic Gingerbread Man then read Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett and The Stinky Cheese Man from The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka

Lesson 15: American Folktales

Review elements of fables, myths, legends, tall tales, and folktales

Read The Girl Who Loved Horses by Paul Goble

Read George Washington and the Cherry Tree from The Children's Book of Virtues edited by William Bennett

Read selections from The Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit

Lesson 16: Introduction to Fairy tales

Review elements of fables, myths, legends, tall tales, and folktales

Elements of fairytales: fictitious
                                     usually set in the far past
                                     usually include magic and/or fantasy elements: people, objects, animals
                                     often incorporate 3--3 events, 3 people, 3 objects
                                     clearly defined good and evil characters
                                     usually have a happy ending  

Read several fairy tales from a favorite book of fairytales (exclude any Red Riding Hood or Cinderella tales in this reading).  Our favorite fairy tale resource is The Random House Book of Fairy Tales adapted by Amy Ehrlich.

Enrichment activity: Have students draw and color a picture of their favorite fairy tale

Lesson 17: Red Riding Hood Around the World

Review elements of fables, myths, legends, tall tales, folktales, and fairy tales

Read Little Red Riding Hood retold by Trina Schart Hyman

Read Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young

Read stories from Little Red Riding Hood and Other Girls Who Got Lost in the Woods by Amelia Carruthers

Enrichment activity: Have students draw and color a Red Riding Hood picture

Lesson 18: Cinderella Around the World

Review elements of fables, myths, legends, tall tales, folktales, and fairy tales

Read any classic version of Cinderella

Read The Rough Face Girl by Rafe Martin

Read Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

Read The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirly Climo

Read Adelita by Tomie dePaolo

Read Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China by Ed Young

Enrichment: Have students draw and color a picture of their favorite version of Cinderella. Watch a version of Cinderella for a family movie night.

Lesson 19: Bonus Fairy Tale Lesson on Rumplestiltskin and Rapunzel

Review elements of fables, myths, legends, tall tales, folktales, and fairy tales

Read any classic version of Rumplestiltskin

Read Duffy and the Devil by Harve and Margot Zemach

Read and classic version of Rupunzel

Read Rapunzel by Rachel Isadora (I presented a project on Rachel Isadora in graduate school, so she is a favorite children's author of mine)

Enrichment activity: Watch Disney's Tangled



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