As so often happens when I see a certain book or project, it reminds me of particular lessons that I taught while teaching at the former Juniper Park School in Westfield, MA. A recent display of books on spiders at our local library did just that. Below are some ideas on spider-related books that you may want to try this summer or tuck them away in your files for future use. In addition to other resources, several of the selections below are Anansi trickster tales which were first told by the Ashanti people in Ghana.
We begin our lesson suggestions with one of the Anansi stories adapted and retold by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Janet Stevens. These were always popular with second and third graders. I liked to use them to reinforce the SGM® complete and interactive episodes and character traits.
Below is an SGM outline of this story. Please note that here you can map it out as it best suits the needs of your students. This is the way I did it in our third grades as I wanted to reinforce multiple episodes and perspective taking. The mapping was completed in two days so that the students could practice retelling the story after each perspective.
Here is a good opportunity to show Hyena’s perspective, especially since he never finds out that Anansi has taken the magic stick in the first place.
And also from the perspective of the other animals.
This is a great selection to discuss multiple episodes from different perspectives using both the text and illustrations as shown above. You could use different student markers to retell the story from more than one perspective and break this up into two days to add emphasis to the two different perspectives. As always, your presentation depends upon your goals/objectives for your students.
An author’s note is presented at the end of the book.
If you are not familiar with Disney’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” from Fantasia, there are videos available online. Have children view the video after the above activity with the Magic Stick book and then use the Compare/Contrast map to show the likenesses/differences between the two selections. A sample of responses taken from a small group of third graders is shown below:
Any time you get to share multiple retellings of stories with variations on a particular character or plot, it is a wonderful opportunity to have compare/contrast activities, such as our blog on lessons for Little Red Hen.
In addition, the second graders enjoyed a Setting activity where we took ideas of how the setting changed from the beginning of the story to the end. We made a list and then the students illustrated the two settings… some of the students wrote descriptions of both using the list map as a basis. Here you can emphasize the tie words… both, same, different.
Point out that this Kimmel version also shows the picture of both the author and illustrator in one of the pictures! This always brought a smile to the younger students. One student also drew a picture at home and brought it in to share that showed him with the other characters from this story! We titled it “Anansi and Joel and the Magic Stick!” You could create a bulletin board with Anansi and individual student pictures in the lake!
Point out the words (or phrases) in the story that are repetitive, found in many folktales to emphasize importance.
Retold by Tolowa M. Mollel and illustrated by Andrew Glass (Amazon link).
I love this retelling as I used it to map out the story from turtle’s perspective and Ananse’s point of view (below), which shows the interaction of the characters using the SGM icons. The use of the icons and mapping of the stories make it easier to emphasize how characters actions affect others, providing a concrete way to show this concept without students spending time on trying to recall story details. (See similar perspective mapping using Clever Tom and The Leprechaun.)
This selection is wonderful for working with students on the Critical Thinking Triangle® and developing complex sentences. If you are not familiar with our product, The Critical Thinking Triangle® in Action! please check it out. These particular materials are especially powerful when used in small group settings. Check out these two prior blogs for examples: Fireflies and Reinforcing The Critical Thinking Triangle®.
Retold by Verna Aardema and Illustrated by Lisa Desimini (Amazon link).
I used this folktale with older students. We discussed Aso, Anansi’s wife, who is featured along with Anansi in this retelling. It was she who actually came up with all the ideas to help Anansi carry out his Plan of buying the tales of the storytellers from the Sky God for the earth people. This is a great selection to show teamwork and the creative thinking of Aso!
Compare/Contrast this retelling to one with the same theme of Anansi gathering the stories for the earth people found in Jane Yolen’s Once There Was a Story! This collection of thirty stories from around the world, illustrated by Jane Dyer, would be the perfect addition to your classroom in your study of folktales; each selection also has a moral.
The Yolen version would present an opportunity to use and discuss the character map focusing on Anansi’s personality traits. How many synonyms for “Tricky” can the students come up with? Below is a simple project that our 4th graders did with the list when completed.
Written by Tony DiTerlizzi. This is based upon the cautionary tale by Mary Howitt (Amazon link).
There is an extensive analysis of this selection for students in third grade and up in East Meets West for the Holidays and Important Life Events written by Judy K. Montgomery and Maryellen Rooney Moreau, including suggestions related to a theme, retelling strategies, and expository text features. If you are not familiar with the two books in this series, check them out for ideas for over twenty books which you can for immediately implement.
Below is an excerpt from the East Meets West book:
Finally, there are multiple online resources and informational books you may access that would relate to expository information regarding spiders. As I am partial to books, below are a two of my favorite ones that can be used to reinforce expository text structures:
Spiders written by Gail Gibbons would be ideal to use with the “My Research” cut and fold booklet found in The Core of The Core manual which has been featured in past blogs: Expository “My Research” Cut–and-Fold Booklet AND Fireflies! Story Structure, Thoughts & Feelings, Expository Features and Artwork!
Spiders by Seymour Simon provides a great deal of information on spiders and could be used to expand on one of the following tasks:
MindWing has a full array of expository maps using the familiar SGM® icons to help with your informational instruction.
Any of the above activities may be modified to meet your student goals/objectives. The SGM® icons provide you with a concrete way to discuss comprehension strategies with students!