|Grade span:||3 to 8|
|Duration:||Two 45-minute sessions|
Description:This activity is one example of how you can implement the practice of Involving Families and Communities. In this activity, students learn about and discuss the importance of oral traditions in different cultures, investigate oral traditions from their own culture, and share them.
- Understand the importance of oral traditions in various cultures
- Investigate and share oral traditions that reflect students' cultures
- Pictures of storytellers from different cultures (optional)
- Materials to create a fake campfire, including scissors, tape or glue, and cardboard or construction paper in brown, orange, red, and yellow
- Research the history of various kinds of storytellers and storytelling. For example:
- African griots
- Native Americans
- Myths and legends
- American tall tales
- Hispanic or Latin American traditions (corridos)
- Build a paper campfire, either on your own in advance or with students.
What to Do:Session 1
- Begin by sharing a story from your own family or cultural background or showing a video or picture of a storyteller from a culture represented in your community.
- Ask students why they think people tell stories. Help them understand that stories have always been a way of passing on information before writing or printing became widely available.
- Discuss the historical importance of oral traditions in various cultures. For example:
- West African griots are storytellers who pass on historical information about a village or family through generations.
- Native American storytellers use both narratives and songs that focus on four themes: sacred, beauty, place, and community.
- American tall tales come from settlers who told stories around campfires for entertainment at the end of the day.
- Spirituals come from slaves who used songs to practice religion, comfort themselves and others, and share information in ways that slave owners could not understand
- Corridos reflect a Latin-American narrative song tradition used to celebrate folk heroes, tales of true love, and other themes.
- Ask students to think about oral traditions that are important to their families. They may be traditional folktales or family lore, or they could be songs. Ask students to interview a parent or other relative to learn more about their own traditions.
- Have students select a story or song that is important to their family and present it to the class in a story circle. Ask them to be prepared to tell the story (or sing the song) as well as explain the significance of the story to their family.
- Review tips for good storytelling:
- Use expression in your voice and gestures to add interest the story.
- Relax and speak slowly so that everyone can understand you.
- Share any background so that your audience understands the story better.
- Share the source for your story (where did you find this story?).
- Make eye contact with your audience and have fun!
- Clear a large open space for students to sit in a circle, with the paper campfire in the center. This will be the setting for students to tell their stories (like the American settlers did).
- Review tips for good listening (pay attention, make eye contact with the speaker, be respectful and quiet while others are talking).
- Allow students to share their stories one at a time.
Evaluate (Outcomes to look for):
- Student participation and engagement
- Interesting presentations that include vocal inflections and gestures.
- An understanding of and appreciation for oral traditions of various cultures.
Click this link to see additional learning goals, grade-level benchmarks, and standards covered in this lesson.