An Introduction to Trickster Tales (Day 1)

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SWBAT identify a trick in a trickster tale by examining the character’s problem and explaining the connection through key details in the text.

Big Idea

Students learn how characters use their wits to outsmart adversaries.

Modeling and Guided Practice

20 minutes

I introduced the genre of trickster tales by explaining the characteristics. (I used the SmartBoard to show students the characteristcs.) In these stories, usually comprised of animals, one of the characters solve their problem by tricking someone. I told students we were going to read some of these stories that have been handed down by word-of-mouth, meaning there is no known author. After reading, we were going to identify the trick by examining the character’s problem.

The tale we read was The Rabbit and the Coyote, a Mayan Trickster Tale retold by Beth Alley Wise. All students read the story with a partner. When they were done, I gave them a few minutes discuss the problem with their partner. I did this because there were several problems in the story and I wanted students to synthesize that into the main problem, which was Rabbit kept playing tricks on Coyote. They were able to come to this conclusion through discussion. As they began identifying the problem, they realized there were several problems, or occasions, where Coyote was tricked. This was important in helping identify the ultimate trick in that Rabbit outsmarted Coyote forever by climbing to the moon.

I wrote the problem on a sticky note, which I displayed on the document camera. I modeled identifying and underlining the story details that helped lead to how the problem was solved by a trick. I wrote the trick on a different sticky note and placed it next to the problem. I used the visual to explain the connection between the trick and how it solved the problem. One of my students raised her hand and related it to the concept of cause and effect. This lead to a brief discussion on the effect of a trick on the problem.

Independent Practice

25 minutes

Students read two more trickster tales with their partner. They identified the problem and the trick, wrote them on sticky notes, discussed how the trick solved the problem, and underlined key details in the text. I circulated around the room as students worked, offering assistance as needed.


20 minutes

I assessed students via a checklist. They were assessed on whether or not they were able to identify the trick and explain how it solved the problem using key details from the text.


5 minutes

To close the lesson, students shared with a partner their favorite trick and why from the stories they had read. I did this to give students time to reflect on the concept of the message of tricks in trickster tales and to ready them for writing an opinion piece about their favorite tale later in the unit.