Second Grade - Literature - May - Overview

Continue to post the sayings and phrases and relate them wherever applicable. Review the sayings and phrases that students have already learned.

Use the poetry lessons in conjunction with this month's science lessons. Be certain that you have completed Science Lesson 45 before doing Poetry Lesson 16-Caterpillars.

Complete the mythology unit and if you saved the Japanese folktales from March, be sure to use them now. Relate the Visual Arts lessons to both the mythology and the Japanese folktales. Students should bring some knowledge of Zeus and Hera to Visual Arts Lesson 30-The Myth of Io.

Add the following to the list of Suggested Books for Mythology:

Aliki, written and illus. by. The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. ISBN: 0-06-023531

Story of the origin of the Olympians; beautifully illustrated and perfect for children.

Hutton, Warwick. Odysseus and the Cyclops. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

ISBN: 0689800363

Beautifully illustrated, a wonderful selection for read aloud.


Second Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - May

Get up on the wrong side of the bed

Ask the students if they have ever been behaving in a not too pleasant way and had someone say to them, "My, you must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed!"

Explain that when we say this to someone we mean that their behavior is unpleasant. Ask the children to think about some of the characters they have met in literature this year who seemed to have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. Some of the characters who would fit this bill are:

Templeton in Charlotte's Web

Captain Hook in Peter Pan

Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol

Beast in Beauty and the Beast

The wife in The Fisherman and His Wife

There are also numerous characters in the mythology stories who could fit in this category. The goddess Hera could often be described this way, as could the Sphinx, the Cyclops and the Minotaur.

Better late than never

Ask the students if they have ever heard the saying "Better late than never." Ask a volunteer to explain what it means. Reinforce that when we say "Better late than never" we mean that we are happy to have something occur late rather than not have it happen at all.

Ask student volunteers to suggest things that might happen late and possible reasons why. Some examples might be:

A present arrives late because it took more time to deliver than planned.

A family get-together is held hours later than planned because someone has car trouble.

A celebration is postponed because someone is ill and unable to participate.

A toy cannot be purchased until a later date because the store bought insufficient quantities.

Ask the students to describe how someone might feel having to wait for an expected gift or event. List the suggestions they make on the board. Help them to develop their descriptions into single words. Suggest that someone might feel anxious, disappointed, unhappy, nervous, worried, antsy, frustrated, depending on what is anticipated.

Next ask the students to describe how someone might feel when the event occurs or the gift arrives. Again, list the suggestions on the board. Responses might be relieved, happy, excited, ecstatic, pleased.

Finally, ask the students to recall stories they may have heard or read that the saying "Better late than never" would fit. Have the students try to use some of the words listed on the board when they tell their accounts.

Don't cry over spilled milk.

Ask the students if they have ever spilled something: a glass of water, milk, or soda; a BCP DRAFT LIT 154

Second Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - May

bowl of soup; a container of buttons or beads. Suggest that after we spill something the only thing we can do is clean it up. We can say that we are sorry, but we can't undo what has happened. The best thing to do then is to take care of the spill and get on with what we are doing.

Tell the students that the saying "Don't cry over spilled milk" tells us that, but it means something else, too. Just as we can't undo a spill, there are other things we can't undo. For instance, if our team loses a game we can't change the score. If we get upset about losing, we still can't change the score. The best thing to do is simply try harder the next time. Tell the students that sometimes we misplace a toy and it upsets us. The important thing for us to do is to look for the missing item and then if it can't be found, decide to be more careful with possessions so it doesn't happen again.

You may wish to have the students relate circumstances where they think this saying fits.


Second Grade - Poetry - Lesson 15 - Bee! I'm Expecting You


Identify the speaker of the poem.

Use clues in the poem to determine the season.

Write a response from Bee to Fly. (optional)


Copy of the poem on chart paper

Lined paper, manila and construction paper, crayons

Teacher Background

Emily Dickinson's poem is a wonderful vehicle for helping students to imagine the conversations that might take place in the insect world. An activity is included that invites the students to do this by responding in the person of Bee. If you do not choose to do this activity with the poem you may wish to tell the students that the poems of Emily Dickinson are often about nature. Tell them that all her poems show her wonderful talent for seeing things in the world in a very different way.


Tell the students to listen to the poem "Bee! I'm Expecting You." Say: This poem sounds like another kind of writing. See if you can figure out what it is. Read the poem.


Bee! I'm Expecting You!

Bee! I'm expecting you!

Was saying yesterday

To somebody you know

That you were due.

The frogs got home last week,

Are settled, and at work;

Birds, mostly back,

The clover warm and thick.

You'll get my letter by

The seventeenth; reply

Or better, be with me,

Yours, Fly.

Emily Dickinson


After reading the poem to the students once, display the poem and ask them to join you in the reading. Then ask for student volunteers to tell what particular kind of writing this poem sounded like to them (a letter). Ask: Who is being addressed or spoken to? (Bee) (You may wish


Second Grade - Poetry - Lesson 15 - Bee! I'm Expecting You

to point out that a capital letter starts the word Bee because this is a name.) Who is speaking/writing? (Fly) What is being said? (Fly is telling Bee that Fly expects Bee to arrive soon. The frogs and birds are already settled in and the clover is growing.)

Ask the students to tell what season of the year they think it might be (spring). Why? What clues are given in the poem? (frogs and birds have arrived, clover is growing) Which month do they think it is? (April, May) Why? (things described happen during those months) What do the lines in the last stanza mean? (Bee will get the letter by the seventeenth of the month, either write back a letter or come to see Fly)

Have the students suggest responses that Bee might make to Fly and list them on the board. Possible suggestions might be:

I'll be there soon

I miss you

I can't wait to see you

I can smell the clover already

Meet me by the tree

Are there any flowers blooming?

Have you seen Butterfly yet?

Using the form of Dickinson's poem ( a four-line stanza) help the students to put their ideas into a response.


Fly! Wait for me,

I'll be there soon,

Keep moving your wings

Near the old oak tree.

Fly! It's you and me,

Zipping in the clover,

Humming in the grass,

I miss you, Bee.

Let the students copy their stanza onto lined paper. Have them illustrate the reunion of Fly and Bee on a piece of manila paper, and display both pieces of their work on construction paper.


Second Grade - Poetry - Lesson 16 - Caterpillars


Relate poem to information gained in science lessons.

Identify rhyming pattern.


Copy of the poem on chart paper

Suggested Books

Itse, Elizabeth, selected by. Hey, Bug! And Other Poems About Little Things. New York: American Heritage Press, 1972. ISBN: 07-032079-9

Wonderful little book that contains a selection of poems and complementary illustrations by Susan Carolton Smith complete with scientific names.


Teacher Background

This poem relates directly to the metamorphosis of the caterpillar as studied in science (see Science lesson 33). Likewise, the students will recognize the need to chew and chew mentioned in the poem as that which the silkworm experiences.


Remind the students that they have learned the life cycle of the butterfly. Have students name the stages in the metamorphosis and tell what happens in each (larva-caterpillar stage-eats; pupa-rests within cocoon; butterfly-flies away). Ask them to name the insect useful to man that starts out as a caterpillar (silkworm).Tell the students that a part of the poem you are going to read will remind them of that insect. Read the poem.


What do caterpillars do?

Nothing much but chew and chew.

What do caterpillars know?

Nothing much but how to grow.

They just eat what by and by

will make them be a butterfly,

But that is more than I can do

however much I chew and chew.

Aileen Fisher

Ask the students to tell what words in the poem remind them of what silkworms do (chew and chew). Have a volunteer identify the kind of leaves that silkworms eat (mulberry). Ask: Do they eat just a few mulberry leaves or many mulberry leaves? (many)


Second Grade - Poetry - Lesson 16 - Caterpillars

Display the poem and read it again to the students. Ask if anyone can identify the rhyming pattern (AABBCCAA). Does anyone remember what we call two lines that have the same number of syllables and rhyme? (couplet) How many couplets are in this poem? (Four)

Divide the class into two groups and have one group read the question lines (lines 1 and 3), while the other group reads the response lines (lines 2 and 4). Next have the first group read lines 5 and 6, then the second group read lines 7 and 8.

You may wish to have the students stand in two single lines portraying caterpillars when they read the lines.


Second Grade - Poetry - Lesson 17 - Discovery


Relate the discoveries in this poem to animal life cycles, habitat and plant life.


Copy of the poem on chart paper

Suggested Books

Hopkins, Lee Bennett, selected by. Crickets and Bullfrogs and Whispers of Thunder: Poems and Pictures by Harry Behn. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984. (0-15-220885-2)

Fifty of Harry Behn's poems grouped in three sections and illustrated with the author's drawings.

Teacher Background

Harry Behn was born in 1898 in Arizona. He spent his childhood and youth learning about nature from the Native Americans forced to live on reservations there. He went east to attend college (Harvard), but returned to Arizona where he stayed until the age of forty-nine. Then in 1947, he moved to Connecticut.

In 1949, Harry Behn published his first book of poems for children, originally written for his own three children, Pamela, Prescott, and Peter. In the years that followed he wrote additional poetry books as well as novels, for a total of thirteen books. Harry Behn died in 1973.

The suggested book contains a wonderful selection of his nature poems. The poem "Waiting" is especially appropriate as it refers to bees and honey.



Tell the students that the poem you are about to read is called Discovery. Ask them to tell in their own words what it means to discover something (find something that was previously unknown to you). Can they recall any discoveries that people have made? (sun is the center of the solar system, gold in California)

Read the poem.


In a puddle left from last week's rain,

A friend of mine whose name is Joe

Caught a tadpole, and showed me where

Its froggy legs were beginning to grow.

Then we turned over a musty log,

With lichens on it in a row,

And found some fiddleheads of ferns

Uncoiling out of the moss below.


Second Grade - Poetry - Lesson 17 - Discovery

We hunted around and saw the first

Jack-in-the-pulpits beginning to show,

And even discovered under a rock

Where spotted salamanders go.

I learned all this one morning from Joe,

But how much more is there to know!

Harry Behn


Ask the students if they think that Discovery is a good title for this poem. Could the things the poet found be called discoveries? (Yes) Were these discoveries for his friend Joe? (probably not because Joe knew where to look)

If some students have difficulty accepting that these are discoveries, remind the students that people make little discoveries every day. We say "I just realized that we are out of bread," "I just found the new kittens that the cat had hidden," or "I just noticed that my pen is missing." We mean that we just realized it, or found it out; it doesn't mean that no one else knew about it before us.

Display the poem and read it again. Ask the students to silently count how many discoveries are made in the poem (as many as six). Write the number (or numbers) that the students suggest on the board, then list each of the discoveries. The list should include the tadpole and its froggy legs, fiddleheads of ferns and the moss below, Jack-in-the-pulpits, and a spotted salamander. Be sure that your students know that a Jack-in-the-pulpit is a flower, lichens are a fungus that forms crusty patches on trees and rocks, and a fiddlehead fern resembles the neck and scroll of a fiddle.

Take a few moments to relate the discoveries in the poem to prior knowledge the students have gained in science. You might wish to have students recall the stages of development in a frog's life (egg, tadpole or pollywog, frog), what else might be found under a musty log (beetles, worms), and why a salamander would live under a rock (good habitat, moisture).

You may wish to have the students recite the poem with you, then take a moment to see if anyone can identify the rhyme pattern (ABCB, DBEB, FBGB, BB). Remind the students to look at the last word in a line when making this determination.


Second Grade - Literature - Mythology


D'Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar Parin. D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths. New York: Delacorte, 1962.

Beautiful illustrations enhance this read aloud.

Climo, Shirley. Atalanta's Race: A Greek Myth. New York: Clarion Books, 1995.

Illustrations by Alexander Koshkin.

Low, Alice. The Macmillan Book of Greek Gods and Heroes. New York: Aladdin Books, 1985.

Wonderful collection that includes myths as well as background on the gods and goddesses.

Martin, Claire. The Race of the Golden Apples. New York: Dial, 1991.

Beautifully detailed illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon. This story gives the details of Atalanta's birth, early childhood and protection by Diana (Artemis).

Osborne, Mary Pope. Favorite Greek Myths. New York: Scholastic, 1989.

Illustrations by Troy Howell.

Rockwell, Anne. The Robber Baby: Stories from the Greek Myths. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1994.

Includes a pronunciation guide.

She and He: Adventures in Mythology, also by Jim Weiss (Greathall), includes the story of "Atalanta and the Golden Apples."

Atalanta was abandoned by her father, King Iasus. Left to die because she was not the son her father desired, she was found and raised by a bear.

Atalanta grew up to be a champion runner and an archer who could outshoot any competitor. Years later when her father learned of these accomplishments he brought her to his palace. As time passed and the king grew old, he wished for Atalanta to marry. She did not wish to marry and proclaimed that she would only marry the man who could outrun her in a race. To discourage suitors, she declared that any man who she defeated would be put to his death.

Melanion (Hippomenes) was in love with Atalanta and prayed to Aphrodite to help him win the race. He was given three golden apples by Aphrodite who told him to use them during the race.

Melanion threw the apples one by one during the race and tricked Atalanta into taking the time to retrieve them. They married and many years later, because they did not honor the gods nor thank Aphrodite, were turned into lions who hunted side by side.

Recognize that Aphrodite helped Melanion, a mortal.

Recognize that Atalanta "let" Melanion win the race (depends on version).

Recognize that while the gods would help, they would also punish if honor was not given them.

Activity - Using three artificial apples, or balls, have the students reenact the race. You may wish to have the students use dialogue or simply mime the actions.

Heracles (Hercules)

D'Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar Parin. D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths. New York: Delacorte, 1962.

Beautiful illustrations enhance this read aloud.


Second Grade - Literature - Mythology

Low, Alice. The Macmillan Book of Greek Gods and Heroes. New York: Aladdin Books, 1985.

Wonderful collection that includes myths as well as background on the gods and goddesses.

Williams, Marcia. Greek Myths for Young Children. Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 1991.

Myths are told in a comic-strip style, lively and not serious; not useful in showing the entire class but enjoyable for individual students.

Heracles was the strongest man who ever lived on earth. His father was Zeus and his mother, Alcema. Hera acting out of jealousy, tried to kill Heracles when he was a baby by sending two snakes to his crib. At this young age, Heracles grabbed the snakes and killed them, foretelling the strength he would someday possess.

Heracles grew in strength and physical prowess, but had little interest in his studies. Unaware of his strength, he accidentally killed his music teacher when he became angry and impatient. He was sent away to live by himself in the mountains where he continued to grow stronger.

Years later he married and had three sons. During an insane rage caused by Hera, who still sought to destroy him, Heracles killed his wife and his children. To cleanse himself of these sins he consulted the oracle at Delphi who said he must report to his cousin Eurystheus and do whatever he requested. Eurystheus required him to perform ten labors that were arranged by Hera. (The order of the labors varies according to the version.)

Labors 1- 4 said he must rid the countryside of dangerous beasts and monsters:

The lion of Nemea (used his hands)

The nine-headed Hydra (fire and a sword)

The boar of Mount Erymanthus (captured and brought back alive)

A swarm of dangerous birds in the Stymphalian Lake (made a great noise to scare them away)

5 - Bring back one of Artemis' sacred white deer (pierced its leg with an arrow)

6 - Clean the stables of King Augeas (changed the course of two rivers and had them flow through the yards)

7 - Fetch the golden girdle (belt) of Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons (she gave it willingly, but was killed in a battle that ensued)

8 - Capture the four man-eating mares of King Diomedes (fed them the evil king which tamed them and allowed them to be returned)

9 - Capture a fierce fire-breathing bull on the island of Crete (flung it to the ground)

10 - Bring back a herd of red cows from Geryon's island (gathered them onto a ship)

Because Heracles had help with two of the labors he had to do two more.

11 - Pick three apples from Hera's tree in the secret garden (helped Prometheus who told him the secret of picking the apples from the tree, Atlas picked the apples for him)

12 - Capture Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog of Hades (used his hands)

Another insane rage was cast by Hera which caused Heracles to kill his men. Because of this Zeus sentenced him to a three-year punishment. Heracles became the slave of Queen Omphale who dressed in his animal skins and made him dress as a woman and sit at her feet, spinning and sewing.


Second Grade - Literature - Mythology


Recognize that Hera was jealous and punished those who displeased her.

Identify Heracles as a hero not only because of his strength, but also because of his cunning.

Activity - Divide the class into groups who are responsible for illustrating one of the twelve labors. Join the group pictures together to make a continuous story.

Activity - Have the students select what labor they believe to be most difficult and tell why.

Demeter and Persephone

D'Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar Parin. D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths. New York: Delacorte, 1962.

Beautiful illustrations enhance this read aloud.

Hodges, Margaret. Persephone and the Springtime: A Greek Myth. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1973.

Colorful illustrations by Arvis Stewart enhance this telling. Hades is called by the Roman name Pluto in this version.

Low, Alice. The Macmillan Book of Greek Gods and Heroes. New York: Aladdin Books, 1985.

Wonderful collection that includes myths as well as background on the gods and goddesses.

Osborne, Mary Pope. Favorite Greek Myths. New York: Scholastic, 1989.

Illustrations by Troy Howell.

The Roman names of Ceres, Proserpine and Pluto are used.

Rockwell, Anne. The Robber Baby: Stories from the Greek Myths. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1994.

Includes a pronunciation guide.

Waldherr, Kris. Persephone and the Pomegranate: A Myth from Greece. New York: Dial, 1993.

Beautiful illustrations and retelling. Uses both Greek and Roman names.

Demeter was the goddess of the harvest and Persephone was her daughter. Whenever Demeter went down to earth Persephone went too. One day while on earth Persephone left Demeter's side. From out of the earth came Hades who grabbed Persephone and dragged her below with him. Persephone's screams from the underworld could not be heard. She begged to be returned to her mother but Hades told Persephone of his love for her and his unwillingness to take her back to the earth.

Demeter searched in vain for her daughter. Her heart was broken for fair Persephone was life itself to her. The earth withered and plants died as Demeter grieved. She forgot everything in her sadness about Persephone. Without Demeter's blessing, the earth would continue to be depleted.

Finally Demeter learned that Hades had been the one who had stolen her daughter. When Zeus came to ask her to let the earth bloom again, she insisted on his intercession and that he demand Persephone's release. Zeus agreed that he would see that Persephone returned provided that she had not eaten any of the food of the dead.

Hermes was sent to Hades to tell of Zeus' decision. Hades agreed to let Persephone go, but his gardener reminded Persephone that she had eaten pomegranate seeds while in the underworld. She could not return to her mother.

Zeus decided to compromise after he heard the cries of Demeter and Persephone. BCP DRAFT LIT 164

Second Grade - Literature - Mythology

Persephone would spend part of the time with Hades and part of the year with her mother. Now on the earth, part of the year is cold and barren while Persephone stays in the underworld and the rest of the year the earth blooms and is full of life.

Recognize Demeter's love for her daughter.

Recognize the just decision to have Persephone spend half the year with Hades and half the year on earth and Olympus (adjust amount of time to version read).

Recognize that because she ate the food of the underground Persephone was doomed to stay there.

Activity - Bring a pomegranate to school and show the students how to open it and expose the seeds. Let the students sample the fruit and see this unique kind of seed. Ask the students to name other fruits and vegetables whose seeds we eat (popcorn, corn, peas, beans, rice, etc.).

Arachne the Weaver

D'Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar Parin. D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths. New York: Delacorte, 1962.

Beautiful illustrations enhance this read aloud.

Espeland, Pamela. The Story of Arachne. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1980.

Retelling that includes some humorous asides; Roman name (Minerva) is used for Athena.

Low, Alice. The Macmillan Book of Greek Gods and Heroes. New York: Aladdin Books, 1985.

Wonderful collection that includes myths as well as background on the gods and goddesses.

Osborne, Mary Pope. Favorite Greek Myths. New York: Scholastic, 1989.

Illustrations by Troy Howell.

Simons, Jamie and Scott, retold by. Why Spiders Spin: A Story of Arachne. Englewood Cliffs: Silver Press, 1991.

Beautiful, colorful illustrations highlight this tale.

Williams, Marcia. Greek Myths for Young Children. Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 1991.

Myths are told in a comic-strip style, lively and not serious; not useful in showing the entire class but enjoyable for individual students.

Athena, the goddess of wisdom was a skillful weaver. She taught spinning and weaving to many women and was very unhappy when she heard that a mortal named Arachne claimed her work to be better.

Athena came to earth disguised as an old woman and went to see Arachne. She warned Arachne that it was unwise to claim to be better than a goddess. Instead of heeding the warning, Arachne said that she would challenge Athena to a weaving contest because she knew that she was better at weaving than the goddess.

Athena revealed herself to Arachne and agreed to take the challenge. They both wove so quickly and skillfully that when they were finished it was difficult to see any difference in the workmanship. Where the difference could be seen was in the scenes the two had woven. Athena's picture showed the gods and goddesses in all their glory and power, while Arachne's picture mocked the gods.


Second Grade - Literature - Mythology

This additional insult was too much for Athena. She destroyed Arachne's weaving and touched her head with the shuttle. (There are two versions that continue from here. In one version Arachne is so ashamed she hangs herself and is found by Athena, who changes her into a spider doomed to dangle on a thread forever. The second version has the spider transformation begin to occur immediately when Athena touches her head.)

The name arachnid given to spiders comes from the name of the once proud Arachne.


Recognize that arachnids (spiders) are named for Arachne.

Recognize that Arachne was punished for her boastfulness.

Activity - Ask the students to tell what could have happened to make the ending of this story happy. What might have happened when Athena and Arachne were weaving? What might Arachne have said to Athena?

Activity - Have the students sit in a circle and pass a ball of yarn around the group to spin a web while they spin the tale.

Activity - Recall Charlotte's Web and the wisdom of Charlotte. If Charlotte descended from Arachne do we think that Arachne learned her lesson and is now willing to be kind?

The Trojan Horse

D'Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar Parin. D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths. New York: Delacorte, 1962.

Beautiful illustrations enhance this read aloud.

Hutton, Warwick, retold and illus by. The Trojan Horse. New York: McElderry, 1992.

Wonderful pen and watercolor illustrations; students will enjoy hearing this tale.

Low, Alice. The Macmillan Book of Greek Gods and Heroes. New York: Aladdin Books, 1985.

Wonderful collection that includes myths as well as background on the gods and goddesses.

The war between the Greeks and the Trojans began because of an argument between Aphrodite, Athena and Hera. Each thought she should be the recipient of a golden apple marked for the fairest. Eris, the goddess of discord, had thrown it into their midst.

Zeus decided that a mortal named Paris should decide to whom the apple belonged. Each of the goddesses went to Paris and tried to bribe him into saying she should receive it. Paris chose Aphrodite's bribe over that of Athena or Hera. While they had promised wealth, power, glory and fame, Aphrodite had promised the most beautiful woman in the world.

As she promised, Aphrodite made Helen, who was the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta (Greece), fall in love with Paris. They ran away together to Troy. Outraged, Menelaus gathered an army to travel with him to Troy. The Greeks and the Trojans fought fiercely but neither side could win. The battle waged for ten years until Odysseus, a Greek warrior, came up with a plan. They would trick the Trojans into opening the gates of the city so that they could enter.

One day the Greeks seemed to simply leave Troy. All that remained was a huge wooden


Second Grade - Literature - Mythology

horse. The horse was hollow and contained Greek soldiers but the Trojans did not know it . They thought it might be a gift to the goddess Athena so they tore down their walls and dragged it into the city.

At night the Greeks who were hidden in the horse were released. Now within the walls of the city they caused death and destruction and carried Helen back to Sparta.

Relate the proverb "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts."

Identify that the events that happened occurred because each of the three goddesses thought she should be awarded the apple.


D'Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar Parin. D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths. New York: Delacorte, 1962.

Beautiful illustrations enhance this read aloud.

Low, Alice. The Macmillan Book of Greek Gods and Heroes. New York: Aladdin Books, 1985.

Wonderful collection that includes myths as well as background on the gods and goddesses.

A baby boy was born to Jocasta and Laius, queen and king of Thebes. Because the oracle at Delphi proclaimed to Laius that he would be killed by his own son who would then marry his wife and inherit his throne, Laius took the child, pierced the baby's foot with a nail and bound his feet together. Then he told his servant to take the baby to the mountains and leave him to die.

A shepherd found the baby and took him to his master, King Polybus of Corinth, who named him Oedipus, which means "swollen foot." The king raised Oedipus as his own and when Oedipus was grown he went to the oracle to hear his fate. The oracle again said that he would kill his father, marry his mother and inherit the kingdom. Oedipus was so upset that he left Corinth.

As he was traveling on a narrow part of a mountain road he met a lord and his servant in a chariot. This servant told Oedipus to move out of the way while other servants tried to push him. Oedipus became so enraged by the mistreatment he was receiving that he fought these men and the haughty lord and most of his servants were killed.

Oedipus continued toward Thebes and outside the city he was stopped by a creature known as the Sphinx. The Sphinx had the winged body of a lion and the head of a woman. She stopped each traveler and asked a riddle. If a traveler could not solve the riddle, he/she was killed by the Sphinx. The riddle of the Sphinx was "What creature is it that walks on four feet in the morning, on two at noon, and on three in the evening?" Oedipus answered, "Man! He creeps on all fours in babyhood, in manhood walks upright on two, and in old age walks with a cane." The Sphinx was so angry that her riddle was solved that she threw herself over a cliff and was killed.

The people of Thebes were very happy and proclaimed Oedipus a hero. In time he married the queen Jocasta, widow of Laius, and wisely ruled the kingdom. Although Jocasta was much older than Oedipus she did not appear so because she wore a magic necklace created by the gods. The necklace kept the wearer young and beautiful.

Years later a terrible famine struck Thebes and the people consulted the oracle at Delphi. She instructed them to cast out the murderer of King Laius in order to end the famine. Oedipus declared that he would find this person and put out his eyes. It was then that an old servant who had been with Laius when he died, told the horrible truth. It had been Laius whom Oedipus had


Second Grade - Literature - Mythology

killed on the mountain pass. The prophecy had come true! He had killed his father and married his mother.

Jocasta killed herself when she heard the news and Oedipus took a pin from her robe and blinded himself. He cast himself out of the kingdom, and with his daughter Antigone, wandered from country to country until his death.

Identify that the Greeks believed that the predictions of the oracle had to come true.

Recognize that Oedipus tried to change his destiny.

Activity - Discuss the riddle of the Sphinx and how it was worded to seem so difficult. Then have students write a riddle for which you have supplied the answer. You may want to work with the class on this task. Be sure to show the students that it is useful to make a list of facts about a topic before developing the questions. For example:

the sun

center of the solar system

long distance from Earth

provides heat, light

is seen in the sky

can only be seen during the day, but it is always there

solar power can be stored


What cannot always be seen but is always there;

It warms and brightens from far away;

There is no day without it?


Odysseus and the Cyclops

Fisher, Leonard Everett. Cyclops. New York: Holiday House, 1991.

Pictures of the Cyclops may be frightening to some students.

Low, Alice. The Macmillan Book of Greek Gods and Heroes. New York: Aladdin Books, 1985.

Wonderful collection that includes myths as well as background on the gods and goddesses.

Rockwell, Anne. The One-Eyed Giant and Other Monsters from the Greek Myths. New York: Greenwillow, 1996.

Includes the Minotaur, centaurs and the Cyclops.

Odysseus, who was one of the warriors at the battle of Troy, angered the gods because he and the other Greeks did not give thanks after the battle. The gods decided to punish the Greeks.

As Odysseus and his men sailed for home, a terrible storm blew them off course. For many days they fought the sea until finally they sighted land. The ships sailed to the island and Odysseus sent men ashore. Unknown to them, this was the land of the Cyclopes, giants with one eye in the middle of their foreheads who had once forged thunderbolts for Zeus and now lived as shepherds.

Odysseus and his men took wine to give as a gift to the people who lived there, hoping to


Second Grade - Literature - Mythology

receive supplies in return. When they entered a cave and found milk and cheese, they began to eat. This was, however, the cave of Polyphemus, one of the most horrible Cyclopes who feasted on men. When the Cyclops found the men, he was enraged. He immediately ate two of them and threatened the others. Because he had closed the door of the cave with a huge stone that only he could move, the men were trapped.

In the morning Polyphemus ate two more men, then sealed the cave and went off for the day. While the Cyclops was gone, Odysseus found a huge stick and sharpened it. When Polyphemus returned, Odysseus stabbed him with the stick in his single eye. The giant pushed aside the entrance rock and stood at the opening. He dared the men to try to escape. Odysseus had his men grab onto sheep and hang from their undersides. As they passed Polyphemus he felt the sheep's backs but not their undersides. Odysseus and his men escaped.

Identify the influence of the gods on the lives of mortals.

Recognize that the cunning of Odysseus was more important than the size of the Cyclops.