BCP DRAFT LIT 118

First Grade - Literature - May - Overview

You may wish to open this unit by telling the students that they will be visiting countries around the world to listen to the stories that are told there. This format provides an excellent opportunity to revisit countries where other stories they have read originated.

If possible, display a world map while you read the stories this month. As you introduce the country of origin of each story, have the students locate it on the map. With a pin (or tape) attach a piece of yarn and attach the other end of the yarn piece to a sentence strip on which the story title is written. Help the children to see that folktales are told all around the world, they show us that all the people of the world enjoy stories and use them to explain how things happen.

Some of the stories this month fit into the category of "why" stories. They explain how something came to be. Anansi and the Sky God and Medio Pollito are two.

Whenever possible, try to relate the geography and history of a region to the literature. This month, The Boy at the Dike provides a wonderful opportunity.

Hirsch, Jr., E.D.,ed. What Your First Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

This revised edition includes all the stories and sayings and phrases used this month.

Take time to review the sayings and phrases you have studied this year. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is referenced in Medio Pollito.

BCP DRAFT LIT 119

First Grade - Literature - The Boy at the Dike

Objectives

Identify the boy as a hero.

Materials

Classroom size world map (yarn and sentence strip)

Pictures of Holland (Netherlands) showing dikes

Suggested Books

Hirsch, Jr., E.D.,ed. What Your First Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

This revised edition includes "The Boy at the Dike."

Hort, Lenny, retold by. The Boy Who Held Back the Sea. New York: Dial Books, 1987.

This adaptation tells the story of a very mischievous boy. The illustrations are actually paintings done in the style of the Dutch masters; it is a visual delight.

Teacher Background

This story is slightly different from the other stories included this month because it tells of an event that truly could have happened. The story It Could Always Be Worse does tell of real people, but it is unlikely that a family would agree to bring animals into their house.

The age and the size of Peter are important to this story but not in the same way that size is relevant and important in The Knee-High Man or the Anansi stories. Remind the students that the story of Peter and hole in the dike is a different kind of story than the trickster tales.

Note: Add story title and attach yarn to map if following suggestion in overview.

Procedure

Tell the students that this next story from around the world comes from Holland. Explain that the Netherlands is another name for Holland and is the name they will find on the map. Say: The Netherlands are located in Europe, not very far from England, and very close to Germany. Help a student locate and point out the country on the world map.

Explain that dikes were built around part of the country and tell why they are so important. If possible, show photographs or illustrations. Describe how making these mounds of dirt is effective in keeping water out of the towns and cities. Explain that without the dikes, more and more of the land would be washed away making the country smaller and the cities and towns that did remain would become flooded.

Tell the students that the story they are about to hear, "The Boy at the Dike," is a very old story. It is a story that has a message. Ask the students if they remember the names of the stories they read before that had messages or morals (fables). Tell them to listen to this story to see if they think it is similar. Read the story.

When you have finished reading the story ask the students if they think that there was a message. Take a few minutes to discuss their observations. Next ask for a word to describe the boy in the story (hero). Ask the students why that would be a good word to describe him. Ask: Did the boy think about being a hero when he decided to block the hole in the dike? (No) What was he really thinking about? (saving the town)

Briefly discuss how a boy Peter's age and size is able to be a hero. Remind the children BCP DRAFT LIT 120

First Grade - Literature - The Boy at the Dike

that the story is told to celebrate Peter's deed and to remind us that each person can help. You may wish to discuss the fact that this story does not have a moral exactly like the fables did, but it does tell us that it is important to be responsible. Peter's quick thinking saved the day, not his size.

Additional Activity

You may wish to read other stories to the class that feature children as heroes.

BCP DRAFT LIT 121

First Grade - Literature - How Anansi Got Stories from the Sky God

Objectives

Recognize that a clever mind is more important than size or strength.

Identify Anansi as a trickster.

Recall the tasks Anansi was required to perform.

Materials

Classroom size world map (yarn and sentence strip)

Suggested Books

Chocolate, Deborah M. Newton, retold by. Spider and the Sky God: An Akan Legend. Mahwah: Troll Associates, 1993. (0-8167-2812-7)

Wonderful bold illustarions by Dave Albers.

Haley, Gail E., retold and illus. by. A Story, A Story. New York: Atheneum, 1970.

Illustrated with beautiful woodcuts by the author; a Caldecott winner.

Hirsch, Jr., E.D.,ed. What Your First Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

This revised edition includes "How Anansi Got Stories from the Sky God."

Teacher Background

Anansi (ah-NAHN-see) is a trickster who is found in the tales of the Akan people of West Africa in the country now known as Ghana. Students were introduced to the trickster figure when they met Brer Rabbit in March. Help them to recognize that the trickster is a familiar figure in many cultures and that they will meet other characters like Anansi and Brer Rabbit in the future.

The trickster uses cunning and is often greedy, but is a likable character as well. Because he is able to outsmart characters much larger in size, the trickster easily becomes a hero to children.

In second grade students will meet the Native American trickster Iktomi and revisit Anansi in the folktale "From Tiger to Anansi." This is another version of how Anansi gets all the stories.

Note: Add story title and attach yarn to map if following suggestion in overview.

Procedure

Tell the students that the story you are about to read is a folktale that comes from Africa. Have a student come up to the map and locate the continent of Africa. Remind the students that this continent is made up of many countries and that different groups of people live in each of these countries.

Have a student point out the cardinal directions on the map and then ask another student to point out these directions on the continent of Africa. Explain that the story they are about to hear comes specifically from West Africa, and was told by a group of people called the Akan. Tell them that in the story they will hear words that are part of these people's language.

Tell the students that storytelling was very important to the Akan people because in their culture, stories were a way to teach lessons as well as to entertain. The storyteller involved the people listening by inviting them to repeat words or use actions that coordinated with the story. Say: This story is about a character named Anansi (Ananse) who is a spider. (Be certain that all

BCP DRAFT LIT 122

First Grade - Literature - How Anansi Got Stories from the Sky God

the students can recognize, or describe, a spider.) He is not an ordinary spider however, because he does some amazing things.

Read the title of the story that you have selected and ask the students to listen for the amazing things that Anansi does and to see if there is a lesson in this story. Read the story.

When you have completed the story ask the students if they can name any of the amazing things that Anansi did. Help them to recall the tasks he performed in order to pay Nyame (NYAH-meh) for the stories, which were:

Capture Mmoboro (mmmoh-BOH-roh) the hornets - tricked them into believing that it was raining and they should fly into a calabash gourd (bowl) to keep dry, then Anansi sealed them inside

Capture Onini (oh-NEE-nee) the great python - tricked the python into stretching out on a palm leaf in order to be measured, then Anansi tied him to the leaf (depends on version)

Capture Osebo (oh-SAY-boh) the leopard - dug a pit for the leopard to fall in then tricked him into being trapped in a cage (or tied to a tree) as he climbed out

Capture Mmoatia (mmmoh-A-shuh) the fairy - covered a doll with gum and tricked the fairy into getting stuck on the doll (depends on version)

Ask the students if they think there was a lesson in this story. Ask if they learned anything from Anansi's actions. If necessary, ask: Did he use strength to get the stories? Did he use speed? Did he steal the stories? What did Anansi do? (tricked the hornets, [python], leopard [fairy]) Is there something that we could say about size vs. cleverness? Which is more important?

Remind the students that they have heard other stories this year with characters who used their cunning rather than their size. Recall Brer Rabbit, Puss in Boots and Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk.

You may wish to have the students participate in the storytelling by assigning a sound or a motion (clap, snap, or wave) during a retelling. You could have the students do two quick claps each time the name Anansi is mentioned, or assign a different sound or motion for Anansi and for each of the creatures he captures.

 

Optional Activity

If you read Spider and the Sky God be sure to take time to look at the illustrations with your students. The artwork by Dave Albers is outstanding. You may wish to have the students do simple illustrations using colored chalk on black construction paper. They could also use crayon resist (color figures with very thick layers of crayon, then paint over entire scene with black watercolor).

The students should also enjoy seeing Anansi portrayed as a man in the Gail Haley book A Story, A Story. The illustrations are wonderful, especially the pages that show Anansi(e) with his captives in a web. Tell the students that the pictures are woodcuts; each picture is carved and made separately and printed that way as well.

BCP DRAFT LIT 123

First Grade - Literature - It Could Always be Worse

Objectives

Discuss the meaning of the title.

Participate in performing the story.

Materials

Classroom size world map (yarn and sentence strip)

Suggested Books

Hirsch, Jr., E.D.,ed. What Your First Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

This revised edition includes "It Could Always Be Worse."

Zemach, Margot, retold and illus. by. It Could Always Be Worse. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1976.

Wonderful choice with great illustrations.

Teacher Background

This is a great story for discussion. Divided into two parts, the students should be able to see the situation in the story become progressively worse until it is unbearable, then less terrible, and finally bearable.

Depending on the version you read, the animals are introduced into the household singly or all at once, then removed in a likewise manner. When progressing through the lesson you will have to ask questions according to the version you use. Be certain that the students know that a rabbi is a wise holy man.

Two additional activities are included, but they are completely optional.

Note: Add story title and attach yarn to map if following suggestion in overview.

Procedure

Tell the students that we are not exactly sure where the story "It Could Always Be Worse" came from. It is a Yiddish story which means that it was told by the Jewish people who lived in central and east Europe, in countries such as Poland, Hungary, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Russia. (Point to these on the world map.) Explain that Yiddish is a dialect which means the people who speak Yiddish use some different words and put their sentences together differently from other people who speak their same language. Tell the students that while Americans speak English we would find people in some parts of our country who use different words than we do to mean the exact same thing. Tell the students to listen to the story for the dialect, and to pay particular attention to the conversations. Read the story.

After you have completed the story, ask the students if this was a sad story or a happy story. Ask if they think it was a funny story. Were they able to hear the dialect? Repeat the title "It Could Always Be Worse" and ask the students to tell what it means. Ask: What was the problem at the beginning of the story? (The family was poor, so the man, his mother, his wife and their six children all lived together in one hut. They were too crowded and it was too noisy.)

What animals did the rabbi suggest bringing into the house? (chickens, a rooster and geese; a goat; a cow) What animals did the rabbi suggest taking from the house? (chickens, a rooster and geese; a goat; a cow) What was left in the hut? (the man, his mother, his wife, their six children) BCP DRAFT LIT 124

First Grade - Literature - It Could Always be Worse

Was anything different at the end of the story? (no) Why did the man think it seemed better? (things had gotten worse, but when they improved they returned to the same way they were when the story began; it only seemed like they were better.)

The students could get a very good idea of this situation by participating in the actions of the story. Select students to play the roles of the man, his mother, the wife and the six children. Give each a simple statement to repeat and have them stand together reciting their lines. Next, assign the character parts of the chickens, rooster and goose; the goat; and the cow. Instruct each of the "animals" to make the sounds that those animals would normally make. Have them join the original group in the sequence that the story is told. Caution the children not to shout their parts as the commotion will be quite apparent with conversational tones alone.

Have the students portraying the animals leave the group in the sequence according to the story. The audience should be able to attest to the improvement resulting from their absence. The noise will not be quite so unbearable in the end.

Additional activity

The book, Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco ( New York: Bantam, 1992) provides a wonderful opportunity for students to hear Yiddish. The story tells of a friendship that develops between Larnel, a young African-American boy, and his neighbor, an elderly Jewish widow named Mrs. Katz.

Through their conversations Larnel learns similarities in black history and Jewish heritage regarding oppression and triumph. The story length and content may be too much for some students; be sure to review the story for appropriateness.

Additional activity

It's Too Noisy by Joanna Cole (NY: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1989) is an adaptation of the tale. Do not use it for the lesson itself because the flavor of the Yiddish is lost. The students may however, enjoy the rhythm and repetition. The illustrations by Kate Duke are wonderful!

BCP DRAFT LIT 125

First Grade - Literature - The Knee-High Man

Objective

Relate "you wanted something you didn't need" to other situations.

Materials

Classroom size world map (yarn and sentence strip)

Suggested Books

Hirsch, Jr., E.D.,ed. What Your First Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

This revised edition includes "The Knee-High Man."

Lester, Julius. The Knee-High Man and Other Tales. New York: Dial, 1972. (0-8037-4593-1)

Wonderful book with illustrations by Ralph Pinto.

Teacher Background

"The Knee-High Man" is a very short story that is perfect for telling. If possible, commit the story to memory and simply tell it rather than reading it. Remind the students of the importance of a storyteller for keeping stories "alive" before they were written down, and for teaching lessons. Explain that every culture has its own special stories and that many cultures share very similar stories.

Note: Add story title and attach yarn to map if following suggestion in overview.

Procedure

Tell the students that the story they are about to hear was first told in their own backyards. Explain that we use those words when we mean that something occurred close to home. Our home as Americans is the United States of America, so this is where this story was first told. Have a student go to the map and locate North America first, then the United States.

Explain that just like the Brer Rabbit tales, "The Knee-High Man" is an African-American folktale. When slaves were brought to America, they brought stories from their homelands with them. This story probably grew out of a similar story that was first told somewhere in Africa.

Repeat the title "The Knee-High Man" and ask the students to show how tall a knee-high man would be. Say: Knee-high isn't very big, but remember that we met some characters earlier this year who were no bigger than my thumb. Listen to the story to see what happens to someone this size.

After you have finished reading the story ask the students if "The Knee-High Man" is a "why" story. Ask: Did this story tell us why the man is as tall as a knee? (no) Does this story teach us a lesson? (yes) Ask volunteers to tell the "lesson" in their own words. Students may suggest interpretations such as we should be happy with what we have or are, don't borrow trouble, and don't worry about things that haven't happened.

Ask the children if they think that the knee-high man went to the right characters to ask advice. Did the horse and the bull try to give good advice? (yes) Why didn't their advice work? (Accept all reasonable responses.) Did the owl give the knee-high man good advice? (yes) Did the owl tell the knee-high man how to get big? (no) What did the owl tell the knee-high man? (that he really didn't need to be big, that he was worrying about things that hadn't happened)

BCP DRAFT LIT 126

First Grade - Literature - The Knee-High Man

Tell the students that while the knee-high man learned a lesson, this was really a lesson for all of us to learn. Say: People sometimes say, "Don't borrow trouble." That is what the knee-high man was doing; he was worrying about more than he needed to worry about. There are times when we all worry about things that might happen, but that are unlikely to happen. "You wanted something you didn't need" is a message for all of us, not just the knee-high man.

BCP DRAFT LIT 127

First Grade - Literature - Medio Pollito

Objectives

Identify the lesson "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" in the story.

Name the events and how they affected Medio Pollito in this story.

Materials

Classroom size world map (yarn and sentence strip)

Picture(s) of weather vane

Suggested Books

Ada, Alma Flor. Medio Pollito. New York: Delacorte Press, 1995.

Beautiful illustrations by Kim Howard; pages are divided in half, with English and Spanish presented on each. Medio is caring and kind in this version.

Hirsch, Jr., E.D., ed. What Your First Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

This revised edition includes "Medio Pollito."

Medlicott, Mary, selected by. Tales for Telling: From Around the World. New York: Kingfisher, 1991.

Collection of stories that includes "Half-Chick: A Tale from Spain."

 

Teacher Background

There are two distinctly different versions of this story. One shows Medio Pollito to be a selfish, thoughtless chick who is punished; the other by Alma Flor Ada, presents a kind, caring chick who is rewarded. Either version is suitable to use with the objectives. Obviously, a lesson is learned in both cases.

Note: Add story title and attach yarn to map if following suggestion in overview.

Procedure

Tell the students that the next folk tale is called Medio Pollito (MEH-dee-o poh-Yee-toh) which means "Half-Chick" in Spanish. Remind the students that Spanish is a language that comes from the country of Spain. Display the world map and tell the students: Spain is located on the continent of Europe and is on a peninsula that almost touches the continent of Africa. Ask if anyone recalls what a peninsula is. If necessary, point out that Italy is a peninsula, as is Florida. Help students to recall that a peninsula is a long section of land that juts into the water. Have a student come up to the map and find Spain.

From their history/geography lessons the students should recognize that Spanish is spoken in Mexico as well as other parts of the world. Be sure to review that the language was brought to these places by Spanish explorers.

Tell the students that Medio Pollito is a "why" story, which is a story that explains something. Tell the students that they are to listen to find out what this story explains. Read the version of the story that you have selected.

When you have completed the story ask the students if they can tell what this story explained (how the weather vane came to be). Ask how many students have ever seen a weather vane (or if there is one in the vicinity of your school be sure to mention it). Students may be familiar with other animals featured on a weather vane. You might suggest that there could be interesting stories to be told with these as well.

BCP DRAFT LIT 128

First Grade - Literature - Medio Pollito

Ask the students to recall the events that led to Medio becoming a weather vane. Ask: Who did Medio meet on his way to the city to see the king? (water, fire, wind) What did the water want? (remove the weeds that were choking it) What did the fire want? (add some sticks so it didn't go out) What did the wind want? (to be untangled from the branches of a tree) Did Medio help any of them? (no/yes depending on version) What did Medio's mother tell him to do? (Be nice to everyone you meet.)

Suggest to the students that because Medio chose to treat water, fire and wind a particular way, particular things happened. Ask the students if they can recall a saying they learned earlier this year that talked about the way people should treat each other (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.). Was the advice in this saying important for Medio? (yes) Did it matter how Medio treated the water, fire and wind? (yes) Did they treat him the same way that they had been treated? (yes)

Ask the students to think about the results of Medio's behavior. What happened when Medio asked the water in the pot not to wet him? (The water reminded Medio that he did not help the water when it was a little stream.) What happened when Medio asked the fire not to burn him? (The fire reminded Medio that he did not help the fire when it was about to go out.) What happened when Medio asked the wind not to carry him so fast? (The wind reminded Medio that he would not help when the wind was caught in the tree.) Suggest to the students that the water, fire and wind treated Medio just as he had treated them.

Take a few minutes to discuss the lesson of the story and the saying Do unto others as you would have them do unto you as they pertain to characters in other stories.





BCP DRAFT LIT 129

First Grade - Literature - Bibliography

*Ada, Alma Flor. Medio Pollito. New York: Delacorte Press, 1995.

*Chocolate, Deborah M. Newton, retold by. Spider and the Sky God: An Akan Legend. Mahwah: Troll Associates, 1993. ISBN: 0-8167-2812-7

Cole, Joanna. It's Too Noisy. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1989

*Haley, Gail E., retold and illus. by. A Story, A Story. New York: Atheneum, 1970.

ISBN: 0-689-20511-2

*Hirsch, Jr., E.D.,ed. What Your First Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

ISBN: 0-385-48119-5

Hort, Lenny, retold by. The Boy Who Held Back the Sea. New York: Dial Books, 1987.

ISBN: 0-8037-0407-0

*Lester, Julius. The Knee-High Man and Other Tales. New York: Dial, 1972.

ISBN: 0-8037-4593-1

Medlicott, Mary, selected by. Tales for Telling: From Around the World. New York: Kingfisher, 1991.

*Polacco, Patricia. Mrs. Katz and Tush. New York: Bantam, 1992. ISBN: 0-533-08122-5

*Zemach, Margot, retold and illus. by. It Could Always Be Worse. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1976. ISBN: 0-374-33650-4

*Required or highly recommended for lessons