Library Digital Content Access

African Folk Tales

Created By: Donna Holinga and Seventh Grade Teachers at Lincoln Magnet School
Grade Level: 7th
Content Area: Language Arts, Social Studies (Geography), Art
Database Integration: Students will be given 2 class periods during which they will learn how to search the TDC database to discover examples of African artwork (sculture, cloth, jewery) and cultural items which can be incorporated into their folktales. They would also be given additional time to research traditional African dress.

Illinois Learning Standards Achieved

Standard Achieved

Activity that Meets this Standard

STATE GOAL 2: Read and understand literature representative of various societies, eras, and ideas. Students will read a wide variety of African Folk Tales representative of a variety of African cultures.
STATE GOAL 3: Write to communicate for a variety of purposes. Students will write their own original African Folk Tales
STATE GOAL 4: Listen and speak effectively in a variety of situations. Students will listen to folk tales read aloud by the teacher, tapes of Bobby Norfolk an African storyteller, and a presentation by an African Storyteller and Cultural Specialist who performs African folk tales from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
STATE GOAL 4: Listen and speak effectively in a variety of situations. Students will memorize their original folk tale and present it, dressed in traditional folk costumes, to an audience of peers and family members. Each folk tale will be video taped and outstanding examples will be made into a Quick Time movie and added to the Lincoln Magnet School web page.
STATE GOAL 5: Use the language arts to acquire, assess, and communicate information. Students will research the culture of various African countries, choose which elements of this culture should be included in their folk tales and communicate information about the culture through their writing.
STATE GOAL 18, STANDARD A: Compare characteristics of culture as reflected in language, literature, the arts, traditions and institutions. Students will research the culture of various African, as well as identify elements of culture in each folk tale they read or listen to.


Storybooks of a variety of African folk tales such as:

  • Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott
  • How Many Spots Does a Leopard Have by Julius Lester
  • Greedy Zebra by Hadithi Mwenye
  • Hungry Hyena by Hadithi Mwenye
  • The Clever Turtle by A.K. Roche
  • The Magic Pot by Ann McGovern
  • Rabbit Makes a Monkey of Lion by Verna Aardema
  • Who's in Rabbit's House by Verna Aardema
  • Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky by Elphinstone Dayrell


Mufaros Beautiful Daughters

Cassette tape:

Bobby Norfolk, African Storyteller

Material for costumes

A digital video camera

Word Processing program such as AppleWorks 6 or Microsoft Word

Digital video media such as QuickTime

A web authoring program


This unit will take approximately three weeks of class periods one hour long. Students will work in small groups, as well as individually to write, revise, and practice their folk tale. Students who have more than one character in their folk tale may wish to include other students in their actual performance. The folk tale will be presented to family and friends as part of the culminating activity for the quarter, An African Extravaganza.

Week 1:

  1. Introduce the elements of folk tales.
  2. Expose students to as many different models of folk tales from various regions/groups in Africa as possible. Identify the elements of folk tales in each of these examples.
  3. Research elements of African culture and artwork.

Week 2:

  1. Brainstorm a "menu" of possible characters, settings, problems, and themes which students could include in their own folk tales. Leave the results of this brainstorming posted for students to refer to.
  2. Students will complete an African folk tale organizer before they start writing.
  3. Students will begin writing their original folk tale.

Week 3:

  1. Students will complete a rough draft of their African folk tale.
  2. When the rough draft is finished students will work in small groups to do peer editing.
  3. Students will revise their rough draft and word process a final copy.
  4. Students will practice performing their folk tales in small groups and when ready in front of the class. Some of this rehearsal time will be used to research clothing for their performance.
  5. Students will perform their folk tales, dressed in costumes reflecting the setting of their tale, in front of an audience at our African Extravaganza. This performance will be video taped in order to make these performances into QuickTime movies, which will be added to our school website.


This project will be assessed using separate teacher created rubrics. One rubric will be used for the written folk tale and a second rubric will be used for the performance of the folk tale. These rubrics will be shared with students at the beginning of the unit and a copy or each rubric will be sent to parents in the seventh grade team newsletter.