Folktale, folktale...chant, chant, chant!: Introducing Multi-sensory Methods to Recount Folktales

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SWBAT state the components of a folktale and determine the lesson of a folktale.

Big Idea

In this lesson, students begin to work toward independence when identifying the components of a folktale as well as begin to discuss what the lesson of a folktale might be by making inferences.

Enroll Students Into Learning

5 minutes

To start the lesson, I begin by reminding my students that yesterday, we started to learn about folktales.  I ask the students what the components of a folktale are, and allow them to share their ideas, guiding them toward identifying the correct components.

Next, I let the students know that today, we're going to be sharing another folktale!  Just as we did yesterday, I want them to focus on the story so that they'd be able to retell it to their table groups when the story is finished.  Then I share the folktale!  Today I'm sharing the folktale entitled Brer Rabbit Earns a Dollar-A-Minute, retold by S.E. Schlosser available at  Sharing this short folktale is sure to get the students enrolled in their learning right away!

Experience Learning

10 minutes

Once we've shared the folktale, I ask the students to discuss what happened in the story with their table group so that they all feel like they could retell the story.  I also remind them that they should try to identify the components we identified yesterday:

-Trickster (the character(s) that played the trick)

-Fool (the character that had a trick played on them)

-Problem (the problem that one or more characters tried to solve)

-Solution (the way the character(s) solved the problem)

-Lesson (what the author wanted us to learn from this story)

As students are discussing, I walk around and listen in on their conversations.  I think about two questions as I listen to each child: 1) Is the child able to identify the components of a folktale?; and 2) Can the students determine the lesson of the folktale yet?  You could even create a document with two columns (one for each of these questions) and all of our students' names, and as you walk around the room, make a note to yourself on who is able to identify the components and who is able to determine the lesson.  This is an excellent time to collect formative assessment data!

Once students have had enough time to talk, I ask student to meet me on the rug, our classroom meeting space.  I ask the students to identify the components of the folktale that we just heard, and as they identify the components, I make notes on our classroom anchor chart.  See the picture of our Updated Classroom Anchor Chart in the "Resources" section here!

Label Students' New Learning

5 minutes

Next, I tell the students that today, in order to help remember the components of a folktale better, we're going to sing!  My students giggle, and say things like, "Really, Mrs. Hesemann?  We're going to sing?"  I laugh and say, "Yes, while we're not in music class, we really ARE going to sing today!"  I begin to tell my students that it's helpful for their brains to have something catchy, or something easy to remember, to hold on to when they're learning something new!  Since learning about the components of a folktale is new for us, we're going to use a song to give their brains something to hold on to!

I ask students to move back to their seats as I pull up the PowerPoint file called "Folktale Class Chant".  Once students are seated I tell them they can warm up their singing voices a bit (this is usually pretty fun), and then I have them direct their attention to our class Smart Board.  Here I have the song we're going to sing together presented.  I explain to the students that first I'm going to sing to them, and then they can join me on the second time around.

I begin by modeling the words and the motions that go with it:

Line 1 - Words: "Folktales, folktales, spread them around"; Motion: Hand talking

I ask the students why I might make a motion of someone talking for this first line.  My students reply back that this is because folktales are told to people by other people by talking.  I confirm their learning by saying, "That's right!  Folktales are usually told orally, or told by talking! Nice work!"

Line 2 - Words: "Folktales, folktales, pass it down"; Motion: Arms show passing something down

I ask the students why I might make a motion of passing something down with my arms.  One of my students raises her hand and says, "Well, that's because a grandma might tell her story to her daughter, and then her daughter might tell it to her daughter, and so on!"  This is exactly what I want my students to say!  Folktales are passed down from one generation to the next, so again, I confirm their learning by saying, "You got it!  Awesome!  Folktales are passed down through generations!  Great!"  Then I tell my students, "Now watch as I sing the rest of the song!"

Line 3 - Words: "Folktales, folktales, in our hearts"; Motion: Place hand over your heart

Line 4 - Words: "Folktales, folktales, with five parts"; Motion: Hold up five fingers

Line 5 - Words: "Trickster"; Motion: Move arm and wink eye

Line 6 - Words: "Fool"; Motion: Put hands up in the air and make a surprised face

Line 7 - Words: "Problem"; Motion: Put hand on chin in thinker pose

Line 8 - Words: "Solution"; Motion: Fold arms over each other and nod head in satisfaction

Line 9 - Words: "Lesson"; Motion: Wave finger as if to warn someone about something

Now I tell the students to try it with me!  We take it pretty slow at first, just trying out the moves, but once they've got it, I start our PowerPoint that shows the words light up in different colors as we sing the song!  We practice a few times, until finally I say to the students, "Wow!  You look great boys and girls!  Are you ready to try it without me?", and of course the whole class answers with, "Yes!", so I let them give it a go without me, guiding them only if needed!

Demonstration of Skill and Assessment

10 minutes

Now I ask the students to take out the anticipation guide we started yesterday for the story Tops & Bottoms.  I pull up our Folktales Interactive Whiteboard Lesson file and put on the Day 1 slide.  I ask students to share with me their predictions of the five parts of the folktale (trickster, fool, problem, solution, lesson).  With each component, I ask them to tell me what part of the illustration helped them make this prediction, reminding them that illustrations are really an important part of the story!  

Note: One thing I make a point to let my students know here is that I love their thinking!  I really emphasize that the students used the information available to them AT THE TIME, which is important, because in a moment, we'll actually read the story Tops & Bottoms, and my students need to know that they may not have the "right" answer.  I want students to take risks in their learning and share their thinking, and they should know that good readers make smart decisions on what they have available to them at the moment, and it's okay to find out later that we'd like to change our thinking once we have more information!  I make a point to say that our purpose today will be to see if we can confirm or deny what we predicted!

Then, we read the story Tops & Bottoms retold by Janet Stevens (620L).  Depending on what time of year you are doing this lesson with your students, the reading of the text could look different.  Since this is the beginning of the year for me and my students haven't had much experience with a text in this Lexile band, I'm supporting my students by reading to them, but by the end of the year, they'll be reading this material on their own.  Scaffold your support as needed to support your students!

After reading, I start a discussion with the class about what each of the components of this folktale actually were now that we've read the text.  I ask students to make notes on their anticipation guide and discuss how they know, for example, who the trickster was in story.  I ask questions like, "What did Hare do in the text?"  While asking students these questions, I uncover the components on the Day 2 slide of the Folktales Interactive Whiteboard File (check it out in the "Resources" here!).

Lastly, I ask the students to think about the lesson of this folktale.  What do they think the author may have wanted us to learn from this story?  I ask the kids to talk to their table group and work together to come up with a lesson for the story.  Again, here is a another opportunity for me to listen in to students' conversations and decide if they can determine the lesson of a folktale independently.  After a few moments to discuss, I have students share their lesson suggestions with me.  In this lesson, my students came up with a few different lessons, such as "Think before talking.", or "Don't expect something for nothing."  I tell students that often, folktales can mean different things to different people, so all of their lessons sound great!  I share my idea of a lesson from this story: "If you're lazy when it comes to work, you may not get the result you wanted!"


5 minutes

After students finish up taking notes on the "After Reading" side of their anticipation guides, I have our "Paper Collectors" (a class job of two of my students) go around and collect our anticipation guides so I can use them as a record of their learning.  While papers are collected, I have the rest of the class sing our folktales song with me one more time, as a reminder that we can identify all the components of a folktale and determine the lesson of a folktale, too!