The Wonderful World of Folktales: Introducing the Folktale Genre in Grade 3

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SWBAT state the components of a folktale and make predictions about a folktale's components utilizing illustrations from the text.

Big Idea

In this lesson, students will be introduced to the genre of folktales and gain an understanding of the basic components of a folktale, as well as how the illustrations in a text can contribute to characters, setting, mood, etc.

Enroll Students Into Learning

5 minutes

To get my student engaged, I begin by enrolling them in their learning.  This is just a way to grab them right at the beginning of my lesson.  For this lesson, I begin by telling my students that I have something very special to share with them today: a story to listen to!  I give the students two purposes for listening to the story:

1) See if you can remember the story to retell it to your table group; and 

2) Can you figure out who is telling the story?

I ask for a student to share with me and the class what their jobs are that they have while listening to the story, just to make sure everyone is clear on what to do.  Then I begin to play the recording!  For this lesson, I've made a recording for the short folktale Brer Fox Goes Hunting, retold by S.E. Schlosser, which is available at (Check out my recording in the "Resources" section here!)

Experience Learning

10 minutes

Once the story is over, I ask the students if they can tell me who was telling the story.  The kids always get a kick out of realizing that it was me telling the story to them!  Next, I tell the students that when they hear the word "Go!", I'd like them to work together at their table groups to retell the story they just heard.  I tell them they'll have about three minutes to work together, and should start from the beginning, working their way to the middle and then finally to the end of the story.  I also remind them that at the end of the three minutes, they'll see the Clapping Ball, and they should remember to wrap up their conversations then!  Then, I say, "Go!".

As students work together in groups, I circulate around the room, listening in to student conversations, taking mental notes of how well my students seem to be able to identify the components of a folktale already.  

After three minutes, I regain my students' attention by pulling out our Clapping Ball. (You can see pictures of the Clapping Ball in the "Resources" section here!  You can also read more about the Clapping Ball in my Strategies folder!)

I ask students to offer to retell the story to our class, starting at the beginning.  As students help retell the story to the class, I use guiding questions to help further the students' recounting of the story, such as: "Which character was playing a trick?", "Which character got tricked?", etc.  See my "List of Guiding Questions" in the Resources section here!

Label Students' New Learning

5 minutes

At this point in the lesson, I have my class leave their seats and meet me on the rug, our classroom meeting place.  Once all students are seated, I tell the students that I am so proud of them because, whether they know it or not, they just recounted a folktale!  I tell the students that over the next week or so, we're going to spend time working on folktales together!  But, in order to remember what we know about folktales, we're going to create a class "Folktales Chart" so we can review our learning!

Then we begin to create our class anchor chart, where we insert information under each component on the chart for the story we just heard.  Before the lesson, I have the chart set up with the following components:

1) Definition: Cultural stories passed down through generations, usually orally, where the original author is usually unknown.  

2) Trickster: Often animals, but could be people, that often talk and act like humans.  The trickster is the character that plays the tricks in the story.

3) Fool: Often animals, but could be people, that often talk and act like humans.  The fool is the character that the trick is played on in the story.

4) Problem:  Each folktale has a problem that one of the characters tries to solve.

5) Solution:  Each folktale ends with a solution, or a way to fix the problem.

6) Lesson:  Each folktales has a lesson, or something the author wants us to learn from the story.

7) Illustrations: The illustrations in a folktale help tell the story, too, so be sure to notice the setting, characters, cultural details, etc. in the illustrations.

8) Other Notes: Sometimes folktales are called "Trickster Tales" because of the tricking part of the stories.  Also, folktales are often written so that they could take place at anytime or at any place.

Demonstration of Skill and Assessment

10 minutes

Now I ask our students move back to their seats.  I'll pull up on our interactive whiteboard a file (see the Resources section below for the file) that shows the cover of the first text we're going to read together in our shared reading time during this unit, Tops & Bottoms, retold by Janet Stevens.  I ask the students to look at the cover of the text, which is presented on the interactive whiteboard.  I ask the students to think about the following questions, and give them a moment or two to turn and talk with their table groups:

-Who will the trickster be in this folktale?

-Who will the fool be in this folktale?

-What will the problem be in this folktale?

-What will the solution be to the problem in this folktale?

-What do you think the lesson (or what we are supposed to learn from this story) will be?

Once students have had a chance to talk some ideas over with their group, I give each student an anticipation guide for Tops & Bottoms.  Here students can note their ideas about what they think will be so for all the folktale components.


5 minutes

At the end of this first lesson, I let students know we'll check their anticipation guides tomorrow after we read the folktale Tops & Bottoms.  As a final closing, I ask students if they can remember the parts of a folktale (trickster, fool, problem, solution, and lesson), and allow the students to restate the components.