Lesson: The What? and Why? of Myths

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Lesson Objective

Students define myths and differentiate from fairy tales and religious texts. Students explain why myths were created and why they survive.

Lesson Plan

Lesson Name: The What? and Why? of MythsCourse: High School Language Arts by Anke al-Bataineh

Students define myths and differentiate from fairy tales and religious texts.
Students explain why myths were created and why they survive.

Essential Questions:(write on board)
What is a myth?
Why did people create myths?
Why have some myths survived so much time and so many cultural changes?

“Familiar Images?” overhead
Internet access or print-outs from Scholastic.com
Graphic Organizer for Myths by Anke al-Bataineh
Myth vs. Fairy Tale overhead

Anticipatory Set:(8 minutes)
Project “Familiar Images?” overhead. Tell students that this is just to ‘get the juices flowing.’ Assign students in groups of 2-3 and assign numbered heads. Tell them we will be studying some MYTHS in this unit. Tell them to take out a piece of paper, discuss for 2 minutes, and write down a definition of a myth, and a list of examples from their experience.
Allow 2-3 minutes for group discussions. Then use numbered heads to call for ideas one at a time, and note on board or overhead as such:
A Myth is.... | Examples:
Once a few are compiled, call on hands to agree or disagree with some items listed. This should produce the point that some suggestions are fairy tales. (If it doesn’t, throw out some fairy tales and biblical stories and write them down.)

Input:(5 minutes)
Tell students that part of the definition of a myth is that it is a traditional story that usually has a hero or heroine (main character) with supernatural powers. However, it is different from fairy tales because it seeks to explain a practice or belief the culture holds on to, or a natural phenomenon. It is similar to a religious text because some people believe it is a true story, a true explanation, but when we don’t really believe it we call it a myth.

Guided Practice:(25 minutes)
Lead students by calling on hands to sort the stories recalled by the “Familiar Images?” overhead and in their group brainstorms into the chart below.
Myths / Religious Texts
traditional, explain cultural or natural facts, supernatural characters, some people believe it
Fairy Tales
teach a moral, supernatural characters, nobody believes it


Come back to the question of why myths are invented. (This has been answered, so you are checking for understanding.) Myths are ways of explaining or justifying cultural or natural facts. Open the floor to ideas: Why would people need a myth to explain these things? Why not just say the truth? Why make up a story?

Open the floor to ideas: Will myths that originated in different places be the same? Why or why not? What can we learn about the people who made up a myth by reading it?

Project or distribute one of the short myths available from Scholastic.com. Choose a reader and guide students in reading it, stopping every 1-2 sentences to fill in the Graphic Organizer for Myths.  If students are really struggling, it may be best to do this twice. Use random calling to make sure students are engaged and understanding what the Graphic Organizer for Myths is asking.

Independent Work:(17 minutes)
Students log on to Scholastic.com and choose any myth other than the one just read together. They read independently or in pairs (for very low readers) and complete the Graphic Organizer for Myths.

Conclusion/Assessment:(10 minutes)
Students write a reflection in their Language Arts notebook answering the following. (Formative)
a. Explain the main idea of the myth you read in 1-2 sentences (no more!).
b. In your opinion, what was the reason someone had for inventing this myth?
c. What are three things you learned or guessed about the culture the myth comes from by reading it?
d. Would most people believe this myth is true in our culture today? Why or why not?

These entries can be shared out loud at the end of class or beginning of the next class.




Vocab to Watch Out For:



moral (n)



symbol, symbolic

Underlined phrases are suggestions for strategic behavior management techniques.
Lesson Reflection:
What went well? What would you change? What needs explanation?
Students have prior knowledge of myths, but needed the clarification on the differences between fairy tales and religious texts. They were easily able to adopt these distinctions. The transitions and variety of learning modes helped to keep the group on task. Some students are advanced readers and/or feel confident in their understanding of mythology. They would benefit from an advanced track of this lesson to express their knowledge and feel challenged. There needs to be a tight transition, clear instructions and close supervision (at least for this class of boys) when moving to reading on the website. It is easy for them to get off-track and start turning the assignment into a mocking of foreign myths. There is also a need to tightly control discussion of religious beliefs so that students don’t start blurting out opinions that can offend others.

Lesson Resources

MythsIntroduction   Lesson Plan
Myth Definition
Myths to Read
mythvs fairytaleoverhead   Activity
GraphicOrganizerforMyths   Classwork


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