Since long, long ago, folktales have been retold and enjoyed by people in communities all over the world. These stories are often used to teach a moral or lesson, and they reflect the customs of the community from which they came.
Stories that were created to explain why something in nature is the way that it is are called Pourquoi Folktales. While these tales do not support the scientific explanation for nature and its resources, they do seem to make sense. Natural facts, combined with a bit of fantasy, can be used to make an imaginative, yet believable tale.
1) Read the African folktale below.
2) Decide what natural fact is being explained.
3) What realistic facts does the author include in this tale?
4) Now think of a fact about nature, or a natural resource, in the tundra. Using both realistic facts and your imagination, create a Pourquoi Folktale to explain why it is that way. Begin with a graphic organizer to help you to sequence your ideas.
5) Remember to include an appropriate title such as:
"Why the Tundra Is So Cold"
"Why the Caribou Have Such Heavy Coats"
"Why Seals Have Flippers"
"Why the Arctic Fox is White"
"Why Huskies Have a Keen Sense of Smell"
"Why the Bat Is an Outcast"
Long, long ago, there was a war between the birds and the animals in the forest. The bat, not knowing which side to take, did not join either one at first.
When the bat saw that the birds were winning the battle, he flew to their side to join them. One of the birds saw the bat and asked him why he was in their camp.
"Don't you know that I am one of you? See my wings," the bat declared. So the bat became accepted by the birds.
Unfortunately for the birds, though, the animals soon started winning the war. At this point, the bat left the birds and went over to the animals' side. One of the animals, who had noticed the bat in the camp of the birds, yelled out, "What are you doing here? Are you a spy?"
The bat replied, "I am one of you. Can't you see my teeth?" Then the bat parted his lips to show the animals his small teeth.
The animals refused to accept the bat, and the birds refused to have him back. Eventually, the animals won the war, but since that time, the bat has remained alone, an outcast from all the other creatures in the woods. Even today, the bat does not leave his home during the day, but only goes out at night.
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