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Title: Sun and Moon Folktale
Language Arts: Literature: World Literature
Creative Writing: General
Folktales often explain how or why something is the way it is. Students will learn
characteristics of typical folktales and discuss some that they are familiar with, such as
Paul Bunyon or Johnny Appleseed. Then, they will read (or listen to) a childrens’ book
by Niki Daly recounting the Nigerian folktale “Why the Sun and Moon Live in the Sky”
and discuss as a whole class. Finally, students will write their own folktales. Younger
students may need to participate in a group rewriting of the folktale to model the format.
Their individual folktales should address the same topic of why the sun and moon live in
the sky. Older students could choose to write a folktale on any related topic, for example,
giving an explanation for the position, size, or name of one of the planets. This lesson
can be used as a writing activity in conjunction with a unit on the solar system.
sun, moon, folktale, solar system, creative writing, writing process, storytelling
1. Ask for volunteers to tell the story line of a common folktale such as Johnny
Appleseed or Paul Bunyan.
2. Discuss the following points: folktales are often passed down from generation to
generation; they often explain why something is the way it is; they are told as if they
are true; they often involve characters who are not human.
3. Read the Nigerian folktale “Why the Sun and Moon Live in the Sky” to the class or
obtain copies for everyone to read.
4. Check for understanding by asking questions such as: Where did the sun and water
live many years ago?; Why didn’t the water ever visit the sun?; What did the sun
promise to do?; What did the sun and moon do when the water overflowed the top of
5. Model the writing process by writing a group folktale (younger students) or
brainstorm and use a graphic organizer for other possible folktale ideas concerning
the solar system.
6. Have students write their own folktales. Following the writing process of editing and
rewriting, have the students read or tell their folktales to the class.
Types of the Folktale
This site comes from Readings about Children's Literature by Dr. Virginia Wolf and Dr.
Michael Levy Department of English, University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie,
Wisconsin. This is a good background article for teachers, giving an overview of types
of folktales and examples in literature.
Tales, Fables, and Stories from Africa
This is an excellent collection of about forty tales, fables, and folktales from many parts
of Africa. They are short and easy to read and understand. The site includes a brief
version of “Why the Sun and Moon Live in the Sky.”
___Contains special education tips
___Quick Activity (less than 30 minutes; story starter)
___Requires Internet access for students to complete
By reading or listening to an African folktale that explains why the sun and moon live in
the sky, students will become familiar with the characteristics of folktales. In response to
the reading/listening activity, students will create their own folktales about the sun and
moon or another aspect of the solar system.
NY: English Language Arts Standard 2: Students will read, write, listen, and speak for
literary response and expression.
NYC: E2b. The student produces a response to literature. E4b. The student analyzes and
subsequently revises work to clarify it or make it more effective in communicating the
intended message or thought. The student’s revisions should be made in light of the
purposes, audiences, and contexts that apply to the work. E5a. The student responds to
non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and drama using interpretive, critical, and evaluative
processes. E5b The student produces work in at least one literary genre that follows the
conventions of the genre.
CT: Language Arts Standard 1. Reading and Responding: Students will read and
respond in individual, literal, critical and evaluative ways to literary, informational and
persuasive texts. 2. Producing Texts: Students will produce written, oral and visual
texts to express, develop and substantiate ideas and experiences.
NJ: Language Arts and Literacy Standard 3.3: All students will write in a clear,
concise, organized language that varies in content and form for different audiences and
purposes. 3.4: All students will read various materials and texts with comprehension and
1. Students must be familiar with reading or listening for understanding and
responding in writing.
2. Students must be familiar with the steps of the writing process.
Two or three 30-minute classes.
Technology and Materials Needed:
1. One or more copies of the Nigerian folktale “Why the Sun and Moon Live in the
Sky” by Niki Daly (Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, 1995).
2. Paper and pencils
1. Check for comprehension of the folktale by asking questions either orally or in
2. Check for application of the folktale format and for degree of completion of the
Recommended Lesson Plan Review Date:
Check web sites.