Myth, Legend and Folklore

Grades: 4-5

Subjects: Social Studies, English Language Arts

Concepts: Myths and traditional stories

Skills: Listening comprehension, creative writing, the writing process

Materials: Story of Gluskonba and the Four Wishes; Handout: Myth, Legend, Folktales

Time: 1-2 class periods

Focus Questions

  • What cultural role do myths, legends and folktales play in Native American society?
  • How can storytelling help students express their own ideas and beliefs?

Instructional Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Understand the role of myth and folktale in Native American culture.
  • Develop their listening and writing skills.
  • Write their own myth or folktale.

Rationale and Background
Connection to the NH Framework Proficiencies

Introductory Activity

Read aloud to the class the story of Gluskonba and the Four Wishes. When you are finished, ask students some comprehension questions to check their understanding such as: Who was Gluskonba? What did each man wish for? What happened to them? What is the moral of the story? What makes this a myth? End by describing other Native American myths you know and the lessons they teach the younger generation.

Instructional Resources or Materials

Instructional Procedure


Explain to students that myths are fictional stories that usually include a hero or god(s). It is often designed to teach a lesson or get across a point. Ask students if they are familiar with any myths, e.g. Greek myths such as Aesop’s fables. Explain myths come from many cultures – Africa, China – and they reveal that cultures’ values and beliefs. Native American myths often include animals and nature. Then ask: Does America have myths? The answer is yes, but unlike traditional Chinese, African or Celtic myths, they come in the form of American folklore such as Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox. A myth and folktale are different from a legend which is supposed to be based on actual events or people.

Tell students they now have the chance to write their own American myth, legend or folktale.

  1. Ask students to choose a topic on which to build their tale. Students may choose to write a creation story or an explanation about something. They may want to teach a moral or lesson about something. Suggest that they take their ideas either from their own personal history or from United States history. They may want to use animals as characters. For examples from other cultures, you may want to read aloud some African folktales such as Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky.
  2. Ask students to create an outline for their story that has a clear, understandable story line with a beginning, middle, and end.
  3. Ask students to include at least one to two identifying characters and to use as much descriptive detail as possible.
  4. Have students write a rough draft; then meet with a partner for peer review and editing.
  5. Distribute the Handout: Myth, Legend, and Folklore. Ask students to write the final draft of their myths on the Handout. Give them more than one page if needed. Ask them to write their names on the back.

Story time!

When everyone has finished, collect the papers and read the stories aloud keeping the author anonymous. Then post the stories in a bulletin board display in the room.

Concluding Discussion questions

Conclude the lesson by discussing with students how myths, legends and folktales have been vehicles of cultural expression for Native Americans and other groups. Ask Why is it important for cultures to have these stories? How did it feel to express yourself this way? Was it easier or more difficult than a straightforward story? Finally, ask how these traditional stories, including Native American contributions, have enriched American culture in particular.

Assessment Rubric for Myth, Legend or Folktale

Level 4 The student completed all steps in the writing process. Student’s story was highly creative and imaginative. It had a beginning, middle, and end with a clear story line. There were multiple identifying characters. The student used much descriptive detail. There was a sophisticated point to the story – either a moral, lesson, explanation etc.
Level 3 The student completed all steps in the writing process. Student’s story was creative. It had a beginning, middle, and end with a mostly clear story line. There were at least one to two identify characters. There was some descriptive detail. The story had a moral or lesson.
Level 2 Student did not complete all steps in the writing process. The story line was not entirely clear and it did not include a beginning, middle or end. There was at least one identifying character with little descriptive detail. The moral or lesson of the story was unclear.
Level 1 The student did not complete all steps in the writing process. The story line was incoherent and did not include a beginning, middle and end. There was no clear character and little to no descriptive detail. There was no moral or lesson to the story.

Curriculum Modifications/Extension