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10 — Folktales from Nigeria

This sequence will focus on folktales from Nigeria. The first folktale addresses how the Sun and the Moon came to be in the sky, while the second explains how the sky came to be so far away. The students will be able to read and reflect on the messages and themes within each tale.

Photograph of the moon suspended in the darkening blue night sky over layers (gases and the troposphere) of the Earth's surface

Above: Hovering on the horizon, photo from NASA’s Earth Observatory, CC-BY-2.0

In the first activity the students will explore the folktale about how the Sun and Moon came to be in the sky. They will orally analyse the structure of the tale, identifying key elements. As an extension task, discuss personification and allow the students the opportunity to write their own stories or descriptions using this technique. In the second activity the students will compare the similarities between the two stories and use the script to re-enact the tale.

It is important that some time be spent familiarising students with Nigeria: its location, people and culture. This may occur prior to reading or after the first tale has been shared.

Activity 1: Why the Sun and the Moon live in the sky

Read the folktale Why the Sun and Moon Live in the Sky to the students. Have them discuss the relationship between Sun and Water.

Discuss the original complication in the tale regarding Water coming to visit Sun. How do the characters resolve the problem? Discuss how effective this solution was. What was the further complication faced by the characters?

Discuss the outcome of the tale and encourage the students to reflect on whether this outcome was positive for the characters. Why or why not?

Finally, question students regarding their understanding of the message or theme of the tale. Is there a message about friendship?

Discuss how authors can give animals and objects the qualities of a person. Ask the students to suggest other stories or tales they know where the characters are animals or objects with human characteristics. This discussion may provide useful background for Assessment task 2 where the students will create their own folktales. As an extension activity, the students can write a description or short story that includes personification. ACELY1680

Activity 2: Why the sky is far away

Display the folktale Why the Sky is Far Away. Tell the students that this version of the tale is not written in story form but as a play script. Display the script on an interactive whiteboard or computer and ask the students to volunteer to read some of the parts. Conduct a shared reading of the text, then discuss the features of the script, including discussion of prompts and stage directions as well as the use of dialogue.

Ask the students what the similarities between these two tales are, and to justify their ideas with evidence from the texts.

Why the Sky is Far Away explores the concepts of waste and greed. The students should construct a character description of Adese the greedy woman. They can share their descriptions with the class and reflect on why these qualities are not positive.

Since this tale is presented in script form, it would be an ideal opportunity to engage the students in dramatising a piece of literature. Allocate roles and assign tasks so the students can prepare their performance. Allow them time to rehearse and provide feedback on their presentation style, and use of tone and inflection when presenting. The play may be presented to parents, to another class or as an assembly item. The students might also record their performance using flip or video cameras. They can select music to add atmosphere and upload the finished product to the school website. ACELY1685

 Alternatively, use the story form of the text and work with the students to create their own script to be presented. ACELT1601