Baltimore Curriculum Project Draft Lessons

Introductory Notes


These lessons generally follow the grade-by-grade topics in the Core Knowledge Sequence, but they have been developed independent of the Core Knowledge Foundation. While the Core Knowledge Foundation encourages the development and sharing of lessons based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, it does not endorse any one set of lesson plans as the best or only way that the knowledge in the Sequence should be taught.

You may feel free to download and distribute these lessons, but please note that they are currently in DRAFT form. At this time the draft lessons on this web site do NOT have accompanying graphics, such as maps or cut-out patterns. Graphics will be added to this site later.

In participating BCP schools, these lessons are used in conjunction with the Direct Instruction skills programs in reading, language, and math. If you use or adapt these lessons, keep in mind that they are meant to address content and the application of skills. You will need to use other materials to ensure that children master skills in reading, language, and math.


Second Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - January

Easier said than done

Cold feet

Recall the saying "Where there's a will there's a way." Remind the students how that saying connected with people who dreamed of coming to America. Ask the children to imagine how the immigrants felt before they left their country of birth. Say: People leaving other countries to come to America may have felt that the idea of getting the money for passage and leaving a home, land and friends behind was more than they could handle. Some might have simply felt that it was "easier said than done" and others might have simply gotten "cold feet."

Ask the students if they have ever heard someone say that something is "easier said than done." Tell them that it is usually said in connection with something that is difficult. Remind them that they may think that about getting 100 on a paper or about convincing their parents to let them go to see a scary movie. Saying something and doing something are definitely different. People who truly want to do something find a way, people who are just thinking about it may not find the way.

Finally, tell the children that some people just think about something and then don't do anything about it. We say that those people got "cold feet." What that means is that they gave up on their idea; they were too afraid to start or complete an action. Be sure that the students understand that to say that someone got "cold feet" is not meant to be derogatory like calling someone "chicken" because they are afraid to do something. "Cold feet" is more a statement like He was going to climb the mountain, but then he got "cold feet."

Ask the children if they think any people got "cold feet" about going to America. Ask: What are some of the reasons people would have gotten "cold feet" about going to a new land? (unable to speak the language, afraid to risk everything, worried about finding a place to live, etc.) Do you think that some of the people were wise not to try? Have you ever gotten cold feet about a new experience?

Try to help the children weigh the elements of the immigration experience and keep these sayings posted where they can be used for reference.


Second Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - January

Where there's a will there's a way.

You should reintroduce this saying in conjunction with the American Civilization lessons. It is especially relevant to the lesson on the Statue of Liberty and the recommended book, Lily and Miss Liberty.

Remind the students that they were first introduced to this saying back in November. Ask for a volunteer to tell what the saying means. Ask how many recall the people and events associated with the saying (Sequoyah, Erie Canal, Little Engine, Horton). Allow students to share the significance of the saying for each person or event they recall.

Say: Another way to think about this saying is: If you really want to do something you'll find a way to accomplish it.

Have the children recall the hardships faced by many immigrants both in the past and today. Remind the students that some people needed to save money for years in order to buy tickets for boats or planes, or they sold everything they owned to pay for passage. Sometimes people coming to America were escaping the country in which they used to live. They had to sneak away or get people to help them by providing places to hide just like the slaves escaping to the North had to do.

Recall that once they arrived in America there were more adjustments the immigrants had to make. They needed to learn the language and the history and laws of this new land. For many people this was hard to do, but they were determined to be citizens and made whatever sacrifices were necessary to live in this land of opportunity.


Second Grade - Literature - Lesson 9 - Poetry

Rudolph Is Tired Of the City


Contrast life in the city to life in the country.

Identify Rudolph's feelings.


Poem on chart paper

Photographs or pictures of the city and the country

Recordings of sounds in the city, country (optional)

Manila paper, crayons

Suggested Books

Brooks, Gwendolyn, "Rudolph is Tired of the City," Childcraft -- How and Why Library, Poems and Rhymes. USA: Childcraft International, 1982.

Beautiful artwork accompanies the poem.


Ask the students if they have ever wanted to live somewhere different from where they live now. Ask them to tell where they would like to live and why. Ask them what they imagine would be different if they lived in this other place.

Tell them that you are going to read a poem about a boy named Rudolph who is tired of living where he does. Tell the students to listen carefully for the things he doesn't like that he wants to be different. Display and read the poem. (Appears on page 15 of What Your Second Grader Needs to Know)

Ask: Where does Rudolph want to leave? (city) Why? (too close, wants to breathe in an open space) How does he feel living in the city? (cramped, confined, squeezed) Why does the author capitalize certain words in the poem? (emphasize push, spread; physical actions)

Have the children describe city life specifically in the categories of sights, sounds and smells. List these on the board in three separate columns leaving space to contrast those of the country next to each. Be sure that the students recognize that space can appear more cramped when loud noises and many odors assault our senses. Remind them that when we live close to one another we hear very easily music, conversation, crying babies, barking dogs, traffic, footsteps, doors closing and children playing. When we live close together sometimes it is difficult to see the sky because too many buildings are in the way. We can't see long distances because buildings block our view. When we live close together we smell food being cooked in many ways, we smell the perfumes and colognes that people wear, we smell flowers in gardens, we smell the exhaust from trucks and busses, and sometimes we smell garbage that has been sitting outside too long. It can be too close in the city.

Remind the students of Charlotte's Web and the life on the farm where Wilbur lived. In columns next to the city ideas, use a different colored chalk or pen to write the sights, sounds and smells of the country. In the country it is easy to see the sky because there is so much space between buildings, farms may be miles away from each other. Late at night the stars seem so close because it is easy to see the sky. The air is not polluted either by the exhaust from cars and trucks because there are so few. Sounds are different in the country. Sounds of farm equipment, animals and insects are the more common sounds. The smells of the country are earthy smells; fresh mown hay and grasses, the scent of animals, a fresh fragrance carried in the wind.

You may wish to have the children illustrate the differences between city and country as well. Take a piece of manila paper and hold it horizontally. Fold in both ends to meet in the middle. If this is difficult for the children have them measure the paper and mark the center to have a reference point. On the outside of the paper (the two folded pieces) have the students draw a scene of the city. On the inside (the entire piece of paper) have them draw Rudolph spreading in the out-of-doors (see diagram below).


Second Grade - Literature - Lesson 10 - Poetry

There was an old man with a beard


Identify the rhyme pattern of a limerick.

Write and illustrate a limerick (optional).

Illustrate a limerick (optional).


Drawing paper and crayons (pencils, markers, paints)

Copy of the limerick on chart paper.

Suggested Books

Lear, Edward. Of Pelicans and Pussycats. New York: Dial, 1990.

Beautiful ink and watercolor illustrations by Jill Norton, includes "There was an old man" and two songs.

Lear, Edward. The Owl and the Pussycat. New York: North South Books, 1995.

Great selection of limericks, Michael Hague's detailed illustrations.

Lear, Edward. Daffy Down Dillies - Silly Limericks. Honesdale: Caroline House, 1992.

Collection of limericks humorously illustrated by John O'Brien.

Hirsch, E.D. What Your 2nd Grader Needs to Know. Core Knowledge Foundation, 1991.

In Addition

Lear, Edward. The Jumblies. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1989.

Wonderful poem by Lear; colorful, fanciful illustrations by Ted Rand.

Lear, Edward. Nonsense Poems. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1994.

Wonderful, inexpensive ($1.00) paperback that contains more than ninety limericks as well as several poems, illustrations are Lear's own. ISBN 0-486-28031-4

Lear, Edward. The Pelican Chorus and Other Nonsense. New York: Michael Di Capua, HarperCollins, 1995.

Collection illustrated by Fred Marcellino, colorful and imaginative.

Livingston, Myra Cohn, comp. Lots of Limericks. New York: Margaret K. McElderry, Macmillan,1991.

Wonderful collection of limericks by an impressive group of poets.


Moore, Jo Ellen and Joy Evans. Writing Poetry with Children. Monterey: Evan-Moor, 1988.

Good cookbook for writing limericks.

Hayward, Camille. " Lear's Nonsense." Book Links, May 1996, pp. 43-48.


Students who used the Core Curriculum in Grade One will be familiar with Lear and the poem "The Owl and the Pussycat." If your students have not heard of Edward Lear before, you may wish to share the following.


Second Grade - Literature - Lesson 10 - Poetry

Edward Lear (1812-1888) is often thought of as the originator of the limerick but the form originally appeared as early as 448-380 B.C. Lear actually modeled his verses after pieces of writing published in 1822. Lear did, however, add wonderful humor to his limericks and rhymes by poking fun at the long and complicated Latinate names given to plants and animals during this period as in "The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo."

Lear's life was quite interesting. He was the twentieth of twenty-one children and suffered from epilepsy and hypochondria. He was an accomplished artist and his paintings of birds were compared to those by Audubon. Lear made landscape sketches which were used as models by scientists, and he taught drawing to Queen Victoria.

For your own information, limericks can be very difficult to write and some students may become frustrated as they attempt this form. Be sure to read many examples so that the students are exposed to as many as possible. Limit limerick writing to a group activity unless you have students who connect with this form very easily.

A limerick is a humorous verse of five lines with the rhyme pattern AABBA. The first line of a limerick often begins "There was a" or "There once was a ..."


Tell the students that limericks are fun to read and can be fun to write as long as some simple guidelines are followed. Tell the students that you need their help identifying the guidelines.

Say: Listen to these limericks. Listen carefully for similarities and be ready to tell what you notice about limericks. Read a number of limericks to the students from the suggested books. Then read "There was an old man with a beard."

Ask the children if they think limericks are serious or funny. Ask them to picture this man's beard with all the various birds nesting in it.

Display the limerick for the children to see and read it aloud again. Ask the children to look for the rhyming pattern. Have the students identify the rhyming words while you underline beard, feared, beard in one color, and hen and wren in another. Write the letters A and B at the end of the appropriate lines (see below).

There was an old man with a beard, (A)

Who said, "It is just as I feared! (A)

Two Owls and a Hen, (B)

Four Larks and a Wren, (B)

Have all built their nests in my beard!" (A)

Ask the students to dictate the things they now know about limericks while you write them on the board. If they have difficulty you could ask the following questions.

How many lines in a limerick? (5)

What is the rhyme pattern? (AABBA)

Is a limerick usually serious or humorous? (humorous)


Second Grade - Literature - Lesson 10 - Poetry

If you do not wish to try writing limericks with the class, you may wish to have the children simply do an illustration of the limerick "There was an old man with a beard." You might suggest a caricature style picture with a large head and small body.

Writing a limerick

Use "A little old man down the street" as the opening line of a limerick you and the students write together. Have the students identify street as the last word of the line, the one that must be rhymed. Have the children brainstorm words that rhyme with street; write them on the board.

Possible rhymes for street --


meet, meat



beat, beet




Using one of the words in this list, complete a second line, for example "Lived in a house that was neat."

Next, ask the children to tell some of the things he did to keep the house neat. List these ideas on the board, too.

Some suggestions are:

He used dustrag and broom (room, boom, groom, bloom)

To clean every room

He dusted so fine (shine, line, mine)

The house he did shine

He used vacuum and mop (top, hop, shop, stop)

From basement to top

For the final line you may wish to repeat the first line substituting that for a, to read:

That little old man down the street.

A little old man down the street,

Lived in a house that was neat,

He used dustrag and broom

To clean every room,

That little old man down the street.


Second Grade - Literature - Lesson 10 - Poetry

When you have completed the limerick you may wish to have the children copy and illustrate it. You may also wish to try others with your students. The following two are provided as guidelines for further writing.

There once was a girl dressed in red, (head, bed, said, led)

Who kept falling out of her bed,

She held on tight, (might, right, light, flight)

With all of her might,

But still she rolled out on her head.

A young boy once sat at a table, (able, sable, cable)

And ate up all food he was able,

He soon grew so fat,

He was stuck where he sat,

That chubby young man at the table.


Second Grade - Literature - Trickster Stories - Overview

Both the Iktomi and the Anansi stories fit in the category of trickster stories. The trickster figures can be found in many cultures and provide a way for us to look at the best and worst in mankind. It is left to the listener (or reader) to figure out the moral lesson in the story.

The students will enjoy the humor in the stories, especially when it is at the expense of the main character. Be sure to share the origin of each tale so that the students will see that this tradition is universal. Likewise, emphasize that these stories belong to an oral tradition and were told rather than read.

Talk and El Pajaro Cu are folk tales that are not true trickster tales but do contain deception, creation, greed, generosity, and both the clever and the foolish. There is a moral lesson in each which the students should easily find.

Read the stories in the sequence in which they are presented this month, as one lesson sometimes builds on the other. If there is time you may want to reread a particular story that the students especially enjoyed.

There are many other tales that could be included in this unit and the article listed below names several as well as their place of origin. It is a wonderful resource.

Del Negro, Janice M., "Trickster Tales." Book Links, March 1996, pp. 43-47.


Second Grade - Literature - Talk


Identify animals and objects that speak.

Make a pattern that simulates kente cloth.


A yam

Manila paper

Crayons, markers, chalk or paint (teacher choice)

Kente cloth or pictures of kente cloth (see below)

Map of Africa

Suggested Books

Chocolate, Deborah M. Newton. Talk, Talk - An Ashanti Legend. Mahwah: Troll Associates, 1993.

Beautiful illustrations.

Courlander, Harold. The Cow-Tail Switch. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1947, 1974.

The story "Talk" is included.

Source for pictures of kente cloth

Angelo, Maya. Kofi and His Magic. New York: Clarkson Potter, 1996.

Kofi, an Ashanti boy, describes life in his village in Ghana and demonstrates how kente cloth is woven.

Mattox, Cheryl Warren, collected. Shake It to the One that You Love the Best. El Sobrante: Warren-Mattox Productions, 1989.

This wonderful music book has an outstanding collection of kente cloth swatches decorating the pages.


This story comes from the Ashanti (Asante) people of the west coast of Africa. The Ashanti lived in the area that is now called Ghana. This land was rich in gold, and the Ashanti became more wealthy as they controlled the trade route dividing the desert and the mountains. This area became known as the Gold Coast.

The Ashanti believed that all animals, objects and places have a life of their own. It is said that a golden stool fell to earth and landed in the lap of Osei Tutu who became the first king.

The people of Ghana are known for the beautiful, colorful kente cloth they weave.


Show the yam and ask the children to identify it. Tell them that it is a root that many people liken to a sweet potato. Ask: What do we usually do with potatoes or yams? (eat them) Would we talk to a yam, or expect it to talk to us? (no) Say: We are going to read a story about a talking yam and the amazing part of this story is that the yam is not the only thing that talks.

Tell the children that this is a story from a country in Africa. Have the children find the continent of Africa on the map and then have them find the west coast. Tell them that this story comes from Ghana and have them locate it. Tell the children to remember when they listen to the story to try to remember each of the speakers. Read the story.


Second Grade - Literature - Talk

If you use the Deborah Chocolate version be sure to show Dave Albers' wonderful illustrations. The children will no doubt enjoy the way he is able to show a person's expressions with very simple artwork.

After you have read the story, ask the children how they felt when the stool spoke. Have them pantomime the expression of the chief. Next, have them recall each of the speakers and what they had to say. Write these on the board as the children make suggestions. Your list should include:

Jumaani - the farmer, tells wife he is going to take crops to marketplace

yam - tells farmer - you ignored me, leave me alone

dog - tells farmer - leave yam alone

palm tree - tells farmer - don't cut my branch, put my branch down

branch - tells farmer - put me down gently

rock - tells farmer - take that branch off me

Fisherman - does not believe Jumaani

fish trap - asks if branch was taken off rock

Weaver - does not believe story, says it is nothing to get excited about

cloth - tells weaver that he would run, too

Bather - does not believe story, says he doesn't believe they are running because of that

river - ask bather if he wouldn't run

Chief - does not believe, tells men to get back to work

golden (Chief's) stool - asks chief if he can imagine a talking yam

After you have made this list ask the children to tell how many characters are part of this story (14). Ask them to also recall the setting (a village in Ghana in Africa ).

Ask the children if anyone remembers the name of the cloth that the weaver in the story was carrying (kente). Ask if any of the children have seen kente cloth, taking time to discuss it if they have. Be sure to talk about the beautiful colors that are part of kente cloth and the patterns that are woven. Show as many pictures or samples as possible.

To be certain that all the children understand pattern discuss that a pattern, involves the repetition of a design. If possible, point out some patterns in the classroom and have the children suggest them as well. Make a simple design on the board and then show how repeating it would make a pattern. Next, make a pattern alternating two designs.

Tell the children that they will be alternating two designs to make a pattern. Show that a limited number of colors are repeated in a design and tell the children that they should select three colors that will be used in both designs. Have the children make the two simple designs they will use on a piece of scrap paper. Then do the following:

Take sheets of manila paper and cut them in half vertically to form strips each half the BCP DRAFT LIT 79a

Second Grade - Literature - Talk

width of the original paper (see diagram 1). Decide whether you want each child to complete only one of these strips or whether you wish to have them complete both, joining them to make one long strip. Distribute the paper (one or two sheets each) to the children.


Second Grade - Literature - Talk

Single strip

1. Fold the strip into fourths.

2. Have the children use one of their crayons to make a small mark in the center of the first and third blocks. Tell the children that the same design will be used in each and the mark will help remind them.

3. Have the children make a design in the first block and again in the third.

4. Have the children make a different design in the second block and then repeat it in the fourth.

Two strips

Have the children follow the same directions as those for the single strip, but this time completing two strips. When they have finished the two strips tape them together to make one continuous strip.


Second Grade - Literature - From Tiger to Anansi


Compare and contrast a tiger and a spider.

Predict what Tiger gives Anansi.

Make a hanging spider.


Picture of a tiger

Map of the world

Gift tag (teacher-made, oversize, To Anansi, From Tiger written on it)

Black construction paper, white chalk, glue, scissors, black yarn

Spider body pattern (included), scraps of colored construction paper

Suggested Books

Sherlock, Philip M. Anansi the Spider Man. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1954.

Contains the story "From Tiger to Anansi" plus many others.

Hirsch, E.D. What Your 2nd Grader Needs to Know. Core Knowledge Foundation 1991.

Additional Anansi Stories

Aardema, Verna. Anansi Finds A Fool. New York: Dial Books, 1992.

Childcraft, Stories and Fables "Anansi and the Plantains" by Philip M. Sherlock, pp. 247-251.

Chocolate, Deborah M. Newton. Spider and the Sky God: An Akan Legend. Mahwah: Troll Associates, 1993.

Haley, Gail E. A Story, a Story. New York: Atheneum, 1970.

Kimmel, Eric A. Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock. New York: Holiday House, 1988.

Kimmel, Eric A. Anansi and the Talking Melon. New York: Holiday House, 1994.

Kimmel, Eric A. Anansi Goes Fishing. New York: Holiday House, 1992.

Mc Dermott, Gerald. Anansi the Spider. New York: Henry Holt, 1972.

Temple, Frances. Tiger Soup-An Anansi Story from Jamaica. New York: Orchard Books, 1994.


The character Anansi (also Anancy or Ananse) is both man and spider. He is a man when times are good and a spider when there is trouble. He makes his web high up near the ceiling and is sometimes called "Ceiling Thomas."


Review the term folk tale with the students emphasizing the oral tradition of this form of story. Remind the children that folk tales were told to a group of listeners and the delivery of the tale was almost as important as the tale itself.

Discuss the idea that folk tales can differ slightly, as can fairy tales, because they depend on the memories and storytelling skills of different people.

Tell the children that From Tiger to Anansi is another story from Africa like Talk. Have a student locate Africa on the map and briefly review location. Ask: Who remembers from which country in Africa the story Talk came? (Ghana) Have a student locate Ghana. Review the name of the people who live there (Ashanti or Asante) and the name of the cloth that is woven there (kente).


Second Grade - Literature - From Tiger to Anansi

Next, ask the students to recall what unusual thing happened in Talk (animals and objects spoke). Ask: What other stories have we read that had talking animals? (Charlotte's Web, Pinocchio, etc.) Students may volunteer the names of other stories they know that contain talking animals; if time is available, permit the students to recall a few.

Read the title From Tiger to Anansi to the children and tell them that they will be making some predictions about this story. Write the word predict on the board and define it. Tell the students that in order to make a good prediction you need to know a few facts.

Tell the students that they will need to know about the characters first. Write the word Tiger on the board and show a picture of a tiger. Web facts about and descriptions of a tiger around the word. Possible ideas include animal, cat, striped, claws, tail, four legs, strong, ferocious, hunts other animals.

Write Anansi on the board and ask the students to again make suggestions. If students are unfamiliar with the name Anansi, identify him as a spider. Students may suggest small, eight legs, spins web, as possible descriptors. (Note: A spider is an arachnid, not an insect.)

Finally, check the two webs for any similarities. Ask: Are a tiger and a spider alike in any way? Which do you think is more interesting? Why? Discuss the students' responses.

Next to the webs place, or draw, a large gift tag marked To Anansi, From Tiger. Tell the students to think about what a tiger might give a spider. Have them make predictions and list the predictions under the gift tag.

Read the story and when you have finished, look at the list of predictions. Discuss them and the character Anansi. Tell the students that to celebrate Anansi owning all the stories, you will be making spiders reading books.


Make several patterns of the spider body for the children to trace, or duplicate one for each student to first cut out, then trace.

1. Take a piece of black construction paper, fold in half horizontally, and cut.

2. On one half trace the spider body pattern and cut out.

3. Take the other piece, and repeatedly fold in half lengthwise (3 folds) to make eight equal strips for the legs. Cut these apart.

4. Bend each "leg" in two places to simulate a knee and a foot.

5. Holding the body with the larger part at the top, use glue to attach four legs to each side, securing on the underside.

6. Attach a piece of yarn (choose a length to meet your needs) to the larger end to simulate spider silk.

7. Draw eyes on the spider's head using white chalk.

8. Fold a small piece of construction paper in half to simulate an open book. Secure this to the front legs. Suspend the spider from the yarn.


Second Grade - Literature - Iktomi Stories


Identify character traits for Iktomi and Anansi.

Compare and contrast Anansi and Iktomi.

Make a two-sided mask.


Story mask patterns (included)

Crayons, yarn, glue, tongue depressors

Tagboard, scraps of fabric, sequins, etc.

Suggested Books

Goble, Paul. Iktomi and the Buffalo Skull: A Plains Indian Story. New York: Orchard Books, 1991.

Goble, Paul. Iktomi and the Buzzard: A Plains Indian Story. New York: Orchard Books, 1994.

Goble, Paul. Iktomi and the Ducks: A Plains Indian Story. New York: Orchard Books, 1990.

Goble, Paul. Iktomi and the Berries: A Plains Indian Story. New York: Orchard Books, 1989.

Goble, Paul. Iktomi and the Boulder: A Plains Indian Story. New York: Orchard Books, 1988.

Hirsch, E.D. What Your 2nd Grader Needs to Know. New York: Delta, 1991.

Contains "Inktomi Lost His Eyes."

Cohn, Amy L., ed. From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs.

New York: Scholastic, 1993.

Contains the story "Iktome and the Ducks."


Paul Goble was born in England. He grew up with a great affection for the American Indian. He visited the United States as a young man and later made it his home. He has studied the Plains Indians and has spent large amounts of time in museums researching material for his books. Goble has been adopted by the Yakima and Sioux tribes, and frequently visits reservations and encampments. His goal is to keep alive the feeling of an oral tradition in storytelling. Goble has written several other books besides the Iktomi stories.

Iktomi means "spider" in the Sioux or Lakota language. Iktomi is a trickster who is always getting into trouble. The Crow call this character Old Man Coyote, the Blackfoot call him Napi or Old Man, and the Cheyenne call him Wihio or Ve'ho which also means "spider."

In Indian stories, Iktomi as the spider or trickster, was here before people and is referred to as Grandfather. He never dies and can take on the form of any bird or animal.

Paul Goble presents each Iktomi story at three levels, one written with regular type which is read to tell the story, another written with small type to recognize Iktomi's thoughts, and finally a gray italic is inserted to encourage listeners to respond to the story.

These amusing stories, that are not to be believed, often have moral lessons and are called ohunkaka. As you read, encourage the students to identify the moral lesson or the explanation of a natural event that may be included.


Remind the children that folk tales come from long ago. They were told and retold and BCP DRAFT LIT 84

Second Grade - Literature - Iktomi Stories

not written down for many, many years. Usually a storyteller or elder (older, respected person) was in charge of the tales and performed them before a group of eager listeners. Say: Just as it was important for an African storyteller, it was also important for a Native American storyteller to perform the tale well.

Secure as many different Iktomi stories as possible. If you can only find one story to use, at least read the titles of the others to the class. Help the children to see that all of Iktomi's interactions are with animals and things. Ask: What other character had trouble with talking animals and objects? (Jumaani - the farmer in Talk)

Tell the students that Iktomi is a trickster. Remind them that Anansi is also a trickster. Have them recall the story From Tiger to Anansi. Tell them to think about the characters. Ask: Did Anansi have to be strong? (no) What did Anansi have to be? (smart, clever)

Say: Let's read a story and see if Iktomi is also a smart trickster. Read one of the Iktomi stories, if at all possible choosing one of Goble's beautiful books.

As the children will quickly realize, Iktomi is not the clever trickster that Anansi is. Iktomi actually appears to be more a good-natured buffoon who gets himself into situations sometimes through innocence, but usually because he has made a foolish mistake. Iktomi does not even realize that others see he is a fool.

Discuss the story that you have selected with the children. Have them identify Iktomi's goal in the story. Discuss with the children whether Iktomi's goal was met. Ask the children to think of words to describe Iktomi's behavior. Possible suggestions they may have are funny, silly, foolish, selfish, greedy, lazy. List these suggested words on the board under the word Iktomi.

Next, ask the children to think about Anansi. Do any of the words in Iktomi's column fit Anansi as well? Go through each word on the list and, if relevant, add to a list for Anansi. Be sure to ask the children to consider each word.

Help the children to see that while Anansi planned his activities, Iktomi was usually surprised by what happened to him as a result of his activities. Have the children recall an instance when Iktomi was surprised. Have them pantomime that expression and remind them of the Chief in Talk.

Tell the children that they will be making two-sided masks (directions below) to wear when listening to folk tales. Tell them that when things are going well in the story they will use their own faces to show happy smiles but when something else happens they will hold up the mask. On one side of the mask the face will show surprise and on the other the face will be sad. A stick will be used when holding the mask so it may be turned to show the appropriate side.

After the masks are completed have the students use them with any stories you read, but especially with the folk tales which truly involve the audience.


1. Duplicate the faces providing both of the expressions to each child.

2. Distribute and have the students cut them out and glue them to tagboard (for greater strength), again cutting them out when the glue is dry.

3. Have the children color and decorate the faces using yarn and other available materials.

4. Glue the two masks back to back, securing the tongue depressor in between (you may wish to tape the stick as well).

5. When the glue is dry allow the students to use the masks during story time.


Second Grade - Literature - El Pajaro Cu


Identify the characters and their feelings.

Participate by acting a part in the story (optional).

Draw a picture of Pajaro Cu (optional).


Picture of peacock, owl, roadrunner, any other birds

Scraps of green, yellow, silver, black, white, and red paper (optional)

Drawing paper, crayons, scissors, glue (optional)

Suggested Books

Hirsch, E.D. What Your 2nd Grader Needs to Know. Core Knowledge Foundation, 1991.


El Pajaro Cu is a Spanish folk tale that tells about the creation of birds. The students may be familiar with other creation stories and should recall a story that tells about a change that happened to an original creation (How the Camel Got Its Hump).

Pajaro translates to bird in English, but it also means a shrewd, cautious person; an absent-minded person; or a person of suspicious conduct.

This folk tale explains the behavior of the owl and the roadrunner, and raises some questions about vanity as well.


Tell the children that this folk tale is different from the other folk tales they have heard, and yet it is very similar. Tell them to listen carefully and look for the differences and similarities.

Read El Pajaro Cu. When you have finished reading, have the students recall the sequence of events. Discuss the events and consider the feelings of the associated character(s).

Suggested questions:

How did Pajaro Cu feel when he was created without any feathers? (didn't seem to care) How did the other birds feel? (some worried, some felt sorry, maybe felt embarrassed by him)

Why did Owl suggest that they each give a feather to Pajaro Cu? (acting nice, thought everyone could give up a feather)

How did the other birds feel at first? (liked the idea)

Why didn't Peacock like the idea? (Pajaro Cu would be most beautiful bird, Peacock was jealous)

Why did Owl agree to watch Pajaro Cu? (it had been his idea, he wanted to solve the problem)

How did Pajaro Cu feel when he saw himself? (pleased, proud, wanted to show off)

Why do you think Peacock blamed Owl? (someone to blame, wanted to look like he knew what was going to happen)

How did Owl feel when Pajaro Cu flew away? (upset, felt that Pajaro Cu took advantage of him)


Second Grade - Literature - El Pajaro Cu

Would you want Roadrunner as a friend? Why or why not?

On the board list the names of all the characters in the story (Pajaro Cu, Owl, Dove, Peacock, Parrot, Canary, Guinea Bird, Crow, Swan, Redbird, Roadrunner) and have the students identify the main characters (Pajaro Cu, Peacock, Owl, Roadrunner). Explain to the children that each of the names starts with a capital letter because it is the bird's name as well the name of the kind of bird it is. Have the children name the feather color (from the story) for each bird and list these next to the appropriate names.

Ask the children if they recall the words comedy and tragedy from A Christmas Carol. Ask them which they think El Pajaro Cu is. Ask if they think it could be both (for Pajaro Cu, for Owl) and why. Ask if there is a message or moral for this story. Ask which of the characters they would choose for a friend and why.

You might want to ask the children how they would translate the title of the story. Do they have any ideas about what the words mean?

If you wish, the students may pantomime the story while it is read, having the birds give Pajaro Cu an appropriate color paper scrap when it is time to share the feathers.

You may also wish to allow the students to draw and color their interpretations of Pajaro Cu. This may be done simply with crayons and paper, or you may wish to allow them to cut out individual feathers in the colors mentioned and apply these.