Teach your students about the history of Native Americans and present-day Native American cultures with interactive online activities, book resources, games, and art projects.
- Understand characteristics of Native American legends
- Demonstrate understanding of legends by writing a legend of their own
- Engage in the writing process through planning, editing, and revising
- How Lizard Lost His Colors by Sara Shapiro, or another Native American legend such as The First Strawberries by Joseph Bruchac, How Chipmunk Got His Stripes by James and Joseph Bruchac, The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie DePaola, The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie DePaola, or Moon’s Cloud Blanket by Rose Anne St. Romain
- Chart paper and markers
- Story Elements Graphic Organizer printable
- Lined writing paper
- Optional: Projector
- Pre-read the legend you choose. How Lizard Lost His Colors is used throughout this lesson plan.
- Make a copy of the Story Elements Graphic Organizer printable for each student.
Step 1: Introduce the topic by asking your students, “What is a legend?” Explain that today you will be sharing a Native American legend. Tell the class:
Native Americans have a strong tradition of oral storytelling. These stories were told to pass down traditions and values. Legends were told to answer questions that people wondered about, and to teach lessons.
Step 2: Tell your students about Native American legends.
Native American legends include all of the basic story elements: character, setting, plot, problem, and solution. They may include the Great Spirit, and themes such as the importance of nature, and respect for nature and one another. Native American legends sometimes include animals or objects that can talk. Plots may explain how something came to be, or the story may teach a lesson.
Step 3: Prepare to read How Lizard Lost His Colors to the class. This legend explains how the lizard was once colorful, but lost his colors and now lives camouflaged against the desert sand. Ask the class to think about the message of the story as they listen.
Step 4: Review the legend with your class. What caused Lizard to lose his colors? Was this good or bad for the lizard? Was the legend teaching a lesson or explaining how something came to be? Use the Story Elements Graphic Organizer printable (on projector or chart paper) to identify and fill in story elements as a class.
Step 5: Now have your students plan to write their own legend. Brainstorm possible subjects as a class. Some ideas: why a thunderstorm roars, why there is snow, how the stars got in the sky, what makes the waves of the ocean, why an animal looks a certain way, etc.
Step 6: Have students pick a topic and plan their story using the the Story Elements Graphic Organizer printable.
Step 7: Have students edit and revise their stories with a partner, or with you or another instructor.
Step 8: Have students write their legend on lined paper, and illustrate.
- Does the student understand Native American legends? Can he or she give an oral explanation of a Native American legend?
- Does the student’s legend include each story element discussed in the lesson?
- Did the student participate in the entire writing process (planning, draft, editing, publishing)?
Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.