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Traditional tales

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By Teresa Saunderseducation journalist and children’s writer

This leaflet offers four ancient tales, some of which suggest that Africa was where fables – stories of wisdom and justice based in the animal world – may have originated. Children can explore similarities with Aesop’s fables or with the Brer Rabbit and Anansi stories taken by African slaves to the New World.

These teachers’ notes accompany the PRINT ONLY guided reading leaflet in Literacy Time PLUS Ages 9 to 11, May 2009.

african-tales.jpg

Before reading

  • Ask the children to explain what a paragraph is and how they can spot one. Encourage them to look for indenting, connectives to link sentences and adverbial phrases.
  • Look at the titles. Can they think of other stories that have similar titles? Discuss these and their features. Why were traditional stories originally told and passed down from generation to generation? Is it important to keep passing traditional stories on? Why?

During reading

  • Read the stories in small groups. Look for similarities – eg, in plot, character, theme. Discuss similarities with stories read before.
  • Look at the use of sentence starters. What is their purpose? Make a bank of useful phrases. How has the author retained pace without losing detail?
  • Find examples of complex sentences. Identify main and subordinate clauses. Try altering their position and discuss the effect. Study the punctuation and how it aids reading.
  • Note the use of speech. Annotate a copy of the text with the rules of writing direct speech.
  • Use thought-tracking to discuss what the characters are thinking/feeling and how it can help us to predict what happens next.
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