Hispanic and African American Folktales

Students explore the power of oral storytelling in African-American and Hispanic cultures through folktales that have been passed down within families and communities for generations.

Unit Summary

Students explore the power of oral storytelling in African-American and Hispanic cultures through reading and listening to a wide variety of folktales and stories that have been passed down within families and communities for generations. These stories serve as a launching point for students to explore and understand the world around them, to grapple with what it means to be a good person, and to consider what they can learn from the experiences of others. This unit, in connection with others in the course, will challenge students to think about the power of storytelling and the influence it can have on individuals and entire communities.

In reading and writing, this unit focuses on helping readers see the connection between recounting stories, determining a central message, and using details to explain how the central message is conveyed. Through multiple readings of the same folktales, students will be able to analyze and discover the way in which messages are developed. Students will then be pushed to articulate this understanding both orally and in writing. Rereading the same folktale multiple times also supports students fluency and vocabulary development.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • What lessons can we learn from folktales? 
  • Why are Brer Rabbit tales important? What can we learn from them? 

Vocabulary

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Below are all of the unit vocabulary words. Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers decide which words to prioritize. We also recommend that teachers decide which affixes to prioritize. See our teacher tool Prepping Unit Vocabulary (below) for more guidance on which words to pick as priority words.

Text-based

appearances clever content disdain heed humble injustice incredulous judge mind mused neglected outsmart rendered rival splendid strutted stubborn tended trespassing unfulfilled unsuspecting wisdom

Idiom/Cultural Reference

"meet your match"

Root/Affix

in- out- un-

Lesson Map

1

  • Tales Our... — "The Bird of One Thousand Colors"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Recount what happens in “The Bird of One Thousand Colors.”

2

  • Tales Our... — "The Bird of One Thousand Colors"

    RL.3.3

Describe the Turkey, and how his actions contribute to the sequence of events.

3

  • Tales Our... — "The Bird of One Thousand Colors"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Explain what lesson the author is trying to teach in “The Bird of One Thousand Colors."

4

Writing

    L.3.1

Make sentences better and more interesting by combining two or more sentences. 

5

  • Tales Our... — "'Deer Deer!' Said the Turtle"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Recount what happens in “’Dear Deer!' Said the Turtle.”

6

  • Tales Our... — "Deer, Deer!" Said the Turtle

    RL.3.3

    W.3.1

Describe Venado and Jicotea, and how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

7Essential Task

  • Tales Our... — "'Dear Deer!' Said the Turtle"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Explain what lesson the author is trying to teach in “’Dear Deer!’ said the Turtle.” 

8

Writing

    L.3.1

Make sentences better and more interesting by combining two or more sentences. 

9

  • Tales Our... — "The Goat From the Hill and Mountains"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Recount what happens in “The Goat From the Hill and Mountains.”

10

  • Tales Our... — The Goat From the Hill and Mountains

    RL.3.3

    W.3.1

Describe the soldier and the ant, and how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

11

  • Tales Our... — "The Goat from the Hill and Mountains"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Explain what lesson the author is trying to teach in “The Goat from the Hills and Mountains.” 

12

Writing

    L.3.1

Use subordinating conjunctions to write more interesting and complex sentences.

13

  • Tales Our... — "The Happy Man's Tunic"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Recount what happens in “The Happy Man’s Tunic.”

14

  • Tales Our... — The Happy Man's Tunic

    RL.3.3

Describe the shepherd, and how his actions contribute to the sequence of events.

15Essential Task

  • Tales Our... — "The Happy Man's Tunic"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Describe what lesson the author is trying to teach about happiness in "The Happy Man's Tunic."

16

Discussion

  • Tales Our...

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.9

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.d

    SL.3.6

    L.3.6

Analyze common messages/lessons across different folktales and how characters are similar and different across different folktales. 

17

2 days

Opinion Writing

    W.3.1

    W.3.1.a

    W.3.1.b

    L.3.1

    L.3.2

Write a paragraph stating which folktale is your favorite and why.

18

  • Tales of... — Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Describe Brer Rabbit and how his actions contribute to the sequence of events.

19

  • Tales of... — Brer Rabbit Tricks Brer Fox Again and The Talking House

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

    RL.3.9

Describe Brer Rabbit. 

20

  • Tales of... — Brer Rabbit Finally Gets Beaten

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

    RL.3.9

Describe Brer Rabbit. 

21Essential Task

  • Her Stories — "Little Girl and Buh Rabby"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Describe Buh Rabby and whether or not he learned a lesson. 

22

Discussion

  • All unit texts

    RL.3.2

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.d

    SL.3.6

Analyze and debate unit essential questions. 

23

Assessment

24

4 days

Narrative Writing

    W.3.3

    W.3.3.a

    W.3.3.c

    L.3.1

    L.3.2

Write a narrative using effective technique and organizing an event sequence that unfolds naturally.

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.3.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.3.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.3.4 — Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning word and phrases based on grade 3 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

  • L.3.5 — Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

  • L.3.6 — Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships (e.g., After dinner that night we went looking for them).

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.3.2 — 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.

  • RL.3.3 — Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

  • RL.3.9 — Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters (e.g., in books from a series).

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.3.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.3.1.a — Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.

  • SL.3.1.d — Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

  • SL.3.6 — Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

Writing Standards
  • W.3.1 — Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

  • W.3.1.a — Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.

  • W.3.1.b — Provide reasons that support the opinion.

  • W.3.3 — Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

  • W.3.3.a — Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.

  • W.3.3.c — Use temporal words and phrases to signal event order.

Spiral Standards

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L.3.1.d

L.3.1.e

L.3.1.f

L.3.1.g

L.3.1.h

L.3.1.i

L.3.2.e

L.3.2.f

L.3.2.g

L.3.4

L.3.4.b

RF.3.3

RF.3.3.b

RF.3.3.c

RF.3.3.d

RF.3.4

RF.3.4.b

RF.3.4.c

RL.3.1

RL.3.10

RL.3.4

RL.3.5

RL.3.7

SL.3.1

SL.3.1.b

SL.3.2

W.3.10

W.3.4

W.3.5