Unit 2: Folktales Around the World
Students use the text and illustrations of fables and folktales to analyze setting, characters, and key details, allowing them to connect traditional stories to their own lives.
This unit continues the yearlong exploration of what it means to be a good person in a community by pushing students to think about how the lessons and morals from traditional stories and folktales connect to their own lives and communities. The unit launches by listening to the book A Story, A Story, in which students see the power of storytelling not only for entertainment but also for learning valuable life lessons. Throughout the unit, students will explore lessons and morals about hard work, happiness, friendship, honesty, and humility. Through discussion and writing, students will be challenged to connect their own lives with the sometimes-abstract lessons and stories in order to build character and a strong community. It is our hope that this unit, in connection with other units in the sequence, will help students internalize the idea that we not only learn from our own experiences but also learn and grow by hearing the experiences of others.
In reading, this unit builds on the foundation set in Unit 1. Students will continue to practice asking and answering questions about key details with partners, individually, and in discussion, although questions will require a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the text than in Unit 1. To understand the story, students will be pushed to notice a character’s traits and how a character’s traits influence their actions, and thus the sequence of events. In this unit students also explore the central message of a story. Students will learn how noticing a character's traits and character change can help the reader determine the central message of a story. Being able to determine the central message of each folktale will help students answer the essential question of what we can learn from reading folktales. In this unit, students continue to use partner, small-group and whole-group discourse to show their understanding of texts. Building on the work they did in Unit 1, this unit focuses on the structures needed for successful academic discourse, including following agreed-upon rules for discussions, asking and answering questions, using vocabulary, and producing complete sentences. The work in this unit sets students up for success in later units when they begin to engage with the thinking of their classmates.
As writers, students continue to build their writing fluency by writing in response to the Target Task question. Over the course of the unit, students learn strategies for using complete sentences and are expected to use complete sentences orally and in writing when responding to the text. Students also continue their exploration of narrative writing, building on the work they did in Unit 1, by writing their own Anansi narrative that has a strong beginning, middle, and end. The unit culminates with students writing an opinion piece with a strong opinion and two to three details to defend if folktales are or are not just silly stories.
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Book: A Story, A Story: An African Tale by Gail E. Haley (Aladdin, 1988)
Book: Anansi and the Talking Melon by Eric A. Kimmel (Holiday House, 1994)
Book: Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock by Eric A. Kimmel (Holiday House, Reprint edition, 1988)
Book: Anansi and the Magic Stick by Eric A. Kimmel (Holiday House, III edition, 2002)
Book: Anansi Goes Fishing by Eric A. Kimmel (Live Oak Media, Reprint edition, 1993)
Book: The Lion and the Mouse by Bernadette Watts (North-South Books, Reprint edition, 2007)
Book: Borreguita and the Coyote by Verna Aardema (Dragonfly Books, Reprint edition, 1998)
Book: The Paper Crane by Molly Bang (Greenwillow Books, Reprint edition, 1987)
Book: Mama Panya's Pancakes by Mary Chamberlin (Barefoot Books, 2006)
Book: It Could Always Be Worse by Margot Zemach (Square Fish, Reissue edition, 1990)
Book: Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart by Pat Mora (Dragonfly Books, 1 Reprint edition, 2010)
Book: The Empty Pot by Demi (Square Fish, Reprint edition, 1996)
Book: Ming Lo Moves the Mountain by Arnold Lobel (Greenwillow Books, Reissue edition, 1993)
Book: Why the Sky is Far Away: A Nigerian Folktale by Mary-Joan Gerson (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1995)
Book: Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale by Carmen Agra Deedy (Peachtree Publishers, Reprint edition, 2014)
Book: Juan Bobo Goes to Work: A Puerto Rican Folk Tale by Marisa Montes (Rayo, 1st edition, 2000)
Assessment Text: “The Crane Girl” by Curtis Manley and illustrated by Lin Wang (Shen's Books)
These assessments accompany this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Download Cold Read Assessment
Download Cold Read Assessment Answer Key
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
To understand what happens in a story, readers notice a character’s traits.
The central message of a story is the big idea or lesson the story teaches. Noticing character traits and character change can help the reader determine the central message.
Orally produce complete sentences.
Write complete simple sentences.
Write a narrative with a beginning, middle and end.
Include details about what happened with each event.
State an opinion.
Include two to three reasons to support the opinion.
Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions.
Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.
Use specific vocabulary. Use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share thoughts.
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 2, view our 1st Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.
Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.
Lessons learned in the unit:
Explain how you can tell that Ananse thought stories were valuable.
Describe Anansi by asking and answering questions about character actions and traits.
Describe Anansi and what lesson he learned by asking and answering questions about character actions and traits.
Discussion & Writing
Defend if Anansi is a good friend.
Write a narrative about another trick Anansi plays on his friends.
Produce complete simple sentences orally and in writing.
Writing – 2 days
Explain why the lion changes his mind and what lesson the author is trying to teach us by using key details about the character to show understanding of the lesson.
Explain what lesson Coyote learns and how he learned it.
Describe how the stranger’s gift changed the man’s life and what lesson the author is trying to teach.
Explain what Mama learns at the end of the story.
Explain what lesson the man learns and how the rabbi helps.
Describe the wise man’s final piece of advice and if was meant to trick or help Ming Lo.
Decide if a sentence is incomplete or complete.
Explain what the king means when he says, “I admire Ping’s courage to appear before me with the empty truth.”
Explain what the sky means when it says, “perhaps through your own labor you will learn to not waste the gifts of nature” and what we can learn from this statement.
Explain how the Coffee Test helped Martina learn a person’s character and what we can learn from this.
Explain what Juan Bobo is like and what we can learn from him.
Describe Doña Flor using specific details from the text.
Describe what lesson the author is trying to teach.
Discuss unit Essential Questions.
Opinion Writing – 3 days
Defend if folktales are or are not silly stories that connect to our lives by stating an opinion and using facts and examples from the unit to support the opinion.
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Print all upper- and lowercase letters.
— Use personal, possessive, and indefinite pronouns (e.g., I, me, my; they, them, their; anyone, everything).
— Use frequently occurring adjectives.
— Produce and expand complete simple and compound declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences in response to prompts.
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Capitalize dates and names of people.
— Use conventional spelling for words with common spelling patterns and for frequently occurring irregular words.
— Spell untaught words phonetically, drawing on phonemic awareness and spelling conventions.
— Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using frequently occurring conjunctions to signal simple relationships (e.g., because).
— Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
— Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
— Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.
— Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.
— Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups
— Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
— Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.
— Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.
— Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.
— Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure.
— With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 1 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.
— With guidance and support from adults, demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
— Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
— Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
— With prompting and support, read prose and poetry of appropriate complexity for grade 1.
— Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
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