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McREL Standards Activity

Tales From Around the World

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will have a greater understanding of different world regions and cultures based on their folktales and myths.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
Grades K-4 History
 Standard 7.Understands selected attributes and historical developments of societies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe
   Level I [Grade K-2]
   Benchmark 1. Understands the main ideas found in folktales, stories of great heroism, fables, legends, and myths from around the world that reflect the beliefs and ways of living of various cultures in times past
Language Arts
 Standard 6.Uses skills and strategies to read a variety of literary texts
   Level I [Grade K-2]
   Benchmark 1. Reads a variety of familiar literary passages and texts (e.g., fairy tales, folktales, fiction, nonfiction, legends, fables, myths, poems, nursery rhymes, picture books, predictable books)
Language Arts
 Standard 6.Uses skills and strategies to read a variety of literary texts
   Level I [Grade K-2]
   Benchmark 3. Knows the main ideas or theme of a story, drama, or poem
Language Arts
 Standard 8.Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes
   Level I [Grade K-2]
   Benchmark 7. Recites and responds to familiar stories, poems, and rhymes with patterns (e.g., relates information to own life; describes character, setting, plot)
Student Product:A short paragraph or drawing describing or depicting their favorite story scene or character.
Material & Resources:The following website contain full text of stories from around the world:Regional Folklore and Mythology
Teacher's Note:Students will have a greater understanding of the origins of the stories if a large world map was available for them to look at as each story is read.
Using the books from the library or the story resources listed above, teachers can select a sampling of stories from different regions and countries from around the world.  Before the readings begin, the teacher can define key ideas and common themes such as honesty, courage, kindness, and generosity (or any other theme that will come up in the chosen stories).  Let the students know that there may be some unfamiliar references in the stories, such as a plant or animal they have never heard of, and that these references are very important to understanding the cultural background of the story.

The teacher can begin each story by introducing the author and where the story is from or takes place.  Give students an opportunity to look for the region or country on a large class map (if available).  The teacher can have the students listen for interesting (or unfamiliar) cultural details in the story (e.g., references to a particular object, animal, or plant that might be from that area or region).  Once the chosen story or stories have been read, the teacher can discuss with the students the culture from which the story came from and what "cultural clues" could be found in the story.  The teacher can also ask the students what the message or theme of the story was (e.g., honesty, courage, kindness).  Have the students draw a picture or write a brief paragraph of their favorite scene or character from the story.


After a series of stories from different regions/countries have been read, the teacher ask the students to compare the similarities and differences in the stories.  Be sure to point out that there are positive values and ideals (such as honesty and courage) that are shared by every culture around the world.