Folktale Themes and Activities for Children. Vol. 1

Folktale Themes and Activities for Children. Vol. 1: Pourquoi Tales by Anne Marie Kraus. Englewood, CO: Teacher Ideas Press, 1998. ISBN 1- 56308-521-6 152 pp. $22.50 Part of the Learning Through Folklore Series edited by Norma J. Livo.

In a serendipitous twist, this book arrived shortly before I was to give a sessIon on using
storytelling in teaching science at a provincial conference of science teachers. I was delighted to have it to take for the teachers to see since it has much to offer, not just to teachers of science but also of literature, art, drama and social studies. Pourquoi tales are, of course, the how-and -why stories used around the world to teach life lessons. This book is a resource guide to help in planning folktale-related experiences for children in grades 1-5.

The introduction briefly discusses the value of folklore as a teaching tool and, more importantly, goes on to talk about some basic issues of using folklore --issues such as cultural sensitivity, context, and translations. The author has divided the book into four sections. Part One looks at pourquoi tales in a broad overview, touching on themes and motifs, creation myths, culture heroes, and the question of science and pourquoi stories.

Part Two is devoted to activities: focus and goals, group read-alouds and activities, independent reading with discussion questions, cooperative groups, creative extensions (writing, multimedia, shadow puppets), social studies tie- ins and science tie-ins. Included are lesson plans, charts, diagrams, patterns, Venn diagrams and more. Part Three, which is 22 pages long is the part I used most. It is a chart which provides topical and thematic associations between stories and across cultures making it easy to find the most appropriate stories for your purposes. The chart is divided first by broad concept / theme elements (i.e. spider / insect characteristics-behavioural and physical), and then into more specific topics, (butterflies, grasshoppers, mosquitoes etc), next into elements (under grasshoppers and dragonflies we find origin of grasshoppers' long hind legs, why dragonflies have exoskeletons) and then the title, author of the story and the culture from which it comes.

Part Four is a 50 page annotated bibliography which is arranged by continental areas then broken down by country or culture. The Asian section, for example, is broken down into Babylonian, Chinese, Hmong, Indian, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. Finally, there is an index. I was very impressed by the book. Kraus is a Library Media Specialist and she obviously has experience with the kinds of information teachers need and the best ways for them to access them. I was pleased to recommend this book at the science conference and I know I will be using it with groups of teachers -and for myself- as well.

The Second Story Review, Vol 3, No. 4, March 1998
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