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Three African Trickster Myths/Tales -- Primary Style

Linda Frederick-Malanson

Contents of Curriculum Unit 98.02.04:

To Guide Entry

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In J. F. Bierlein’s book, Parallel Myths, he begins his writing with a poem by Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899). I, too, will begin my curriculum with this poem.

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____Life is a narrow vale between the cold
____And barren peaks of two eternities.
____We strive in vain to look beyond the heights,
____We cry aloud; the only answer
____Is the echo of our wailing cry.
____From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead
____There comes no word; but in the night of death
____He sees a star, and listening love can hear
____The rustle of a wing.
____These myths were born of hopes, and fears and tears,
____And smiles; and they were touched and colored
____By all there is of joy and grief between
____The rosy dawn of birth and earth’s sad night;
____They clothed even the stars with passion,
____And gave to gods the faults and frailties
____Of the sons of men. In them the winds
____And waves were music, and all the lakes and streams,
____Springs, mountains, woods, and perfumed dells,
____Were haunted by a thousand fairy forms.1
1J.F. Bierlein, Parallel Myths. New York: Ballantine Books, 1994, p.1.

Myth is the earliest form of science. It gives speculation on how the world came into being. Often a myth is something that only begins to work where our own senses end. Myths have persisted for centuries and they continue to fascinate us. Myths are the earliest form of literature which, of course, began as an oral literature.

Some general statements can be made about myths. They are:

1. Myth is a constant among all human beings in all times. The patterns, stories, even details contained in myth are found everywhere and among everyone. This is because myth is a shared heritage of ancestral memories, related consciously from generation to generation. Myth may even be part of the structure of our unconscious mind, possibly encoded in our genes.
2. Myth is a telling of events that happened before written history, and of a sense of what is to come. Myth is the thread that holds past, present, and future together.
3. Myth is a unique use of language that describes the realities beyond our five senses. It fills the gap between the images of the unconscious and the language of conscious logic.
4. Myth is the “glue” that holds societies together; it is the basis of identity for communities, tribes, and nations.
5. Myth is an essential ingredient in all codes of moral conduct. The rules for living have always derived their legitimacy from their origins in myth and religion.
6. Myth is a pattern of beliefs that give meaning to life. Myth enables individuals and societies to adapt to their respective environments with dignity and value.
My curriculum unit is divided into four one-week periods, one week for each African “trickster” myth and one week for a culmination. It is targeted for second graders, but can be simplified for Kindergarten or extended for sixth grade or, perhaps, beyond.

It is my hope that second graders will understand myths as another reading genre. In addition, I know that my second graders will enjoy this curriculum, as it will be experience-based for which they will take ownership. Children absorb experience-based learning far faster than from any teacher droning on for hours about a particular subject! One must remember the old Chinese proverb!

I hear, and I forget…
I see, and I remember…
I do, and I understand…
This curriculum is integrated into other areas such as mathematics, social studies (geography, customs) and dramatics (Puppetry will be used in this area, too.). Obviously, language arts, especially reading and storytelling, along with writing will weave in their elements.

My main objectives are:

1. To introduce myths (which is usually considered a middle school subject) to my second graders.
2. To develop my second graders’ ownership of a subject, in this case, myths/folktales.
3. To develop an experience-based curriculum while integrating it into other curriculum areas.
4. To share my curriculum with other innovative teachers.
5. To make my curriculum unit teacher-friendly.
Trickster tales feature a clever, devious animal or character whose pranks usually cause trouble for another character. In most instances, the trickster goes away gloating and unpunished, though in some tales there is a turnabout, and the trickster falls prey to the mischief he started.

The trickster figure is found all over the world. Sometimes this figure is either creative or subversive. They are mischievous, cunning and humorous and usually have the ability to switch between animal and human form.

Almost all-traditional cultures tell stories featuring specific tricksters. For example, Coyote, Hare, and Raven are the featured tricksters across North America. West African trickster stories star Tortoise, Anansi the Spider, Zomo the Hare (African storytellers brought the latter to America where it was integrated with the native American hare eventually becoming Bre’r Rabbit) or Eshu, the mischievous messenger of the gods in Yoruba (Nigeria) mythology.

In Japan, tricksters are Badger, Tengu. , mischievous trickster spirits, and Kitsune, a shape-shifter. In Europe and South and Central America the trickster can be Fox or Wolf. Norse mythology has Loki as their trickster. Greek mythology has Hermes as theirs. Of course, there are more in other cultures.

What’s the long-lasting appeal of a mischievous hero who so often gets away with causing trouble? One answer is that trickster stories make people laugh, just as practical jokers amuse some people today. A deeper reason for the popularity of tricksters is the way they combine mischief with creativity.

Tricksters figure in the cosmology of many cultures create many features of the natural world as they play their pranks. An example is in the Native American story “Coyote and the Wolves”. In tricking the wolves, Coyote forms constellations in the night sky.

A third reason why trickster stories endure is that they also teach lessons about the futility of vanity, the perils of being naïve about ways of the world, and the punishments that may come from being greedy. The butts of trickster jokes are often characters who exhibit these traits and who come away wiser after their hard lesson about taking what belongs to another.

Initially, I had planned to write about trickster myths from several different cultures, but the more I read the more I became attracted to African trickster myths. Consequently, I decided to write African trickster myths for my curriculum. However, I must differentiate that many trickster stories are folktales and not myths. To be a myth, a trickster story must be an ancient story that has its roots in the sacred beliefs, or cosmology, of groups of people long ago.

The story must take place in a remote past, in a time before historical time, and the main characters should be deities, semi-deities, or humans with extraordinary power. Myths were the way in which all cultures, before the advent of modern science, sought to explain the origin of the world and of human beings’ relationship to it.

Just about every culture has its own “trickster”. For example, in Japan there are Tengu, mischievous trickster spirits. They are half-human, wearing hats and cloaks, and half bird, with wings, claws, and elongated beaks. Hence they got their name, which means, “long nose”.

In Hawaiian mythology there is a trickster named Iwa. It is said he owned a magic paddle that took him from one end of Hawaii to the other in only four strokes. In nearby Polynesia the best known hero and trickster is Maui, who did many things to help humankind. He fished up the islands of Polynesia from the bottom of the sea, using a magic hook.

Maui died while trying to win eternal life for humans from HINE-nui-te-Po. The hero and his friends, the birds, went to the Underworld, where they found the goddess asleep. Warning the birds not to laugh, he crept into her body intending to come out through her mouth. But it was such a funny sight that one bird did laugh. The goddess woke up and squeezed her insides together, crushing Maui. As a result, humans cannot escape from death.

The Aborigines of Australia have their mythological tricksters. Some of these beings cause unpredictable events. More often they change the order of things by stealing wild foods or by leading people to steal, fight and renege upon social obligations.

In the Western Kimberleys of Australia, races of tricksters known as the Nyandjala-Nyandjala and Wurulu-Wurulu are said to wander through the bush looking for mischief, spoiling the caves where their ancestral heroes left painting of themselves by putting their own painting on top.

The Nyandjala-Nyandjala are not mean tricksters although sometimes they are blamed for a bad harvest. However, the Wurulu-Wurulu disrupt by stealing the honey from the wild bees. If someone finds an empty nest, they know the Wurulu-Wurulu have been there first.

In Native America the trickster is at the same time imp and hero. He is the great culture bearer who can make mischief beyond belief becoming clown, then creator, then clown again. The trickster is a rebel against authority and often the breaker of all taboos.

The Coyote is the great trickster in Native America. We hear of him from Alaska to the southern deserts and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Minor animal tricksters in Indian America are Raven, Mink, Rabbit and Blue Jay.

Human or semi-human Native American tricksters are Old Man of the Blackfeet and Crow, Iktome the Sioux Spider Man, Veeho or Vihio of the Cheyenne, Manabozho of the central woodlands and Great Lakes and Whisky Jack of the Cree and Sultaux. Often when a tribe has another trickster of its own, Coyote appears as his comrade/fellow mischief-maker.

Coyote takes on different roles in various Indian tribes. In the plains Coyote’s cleverness alternates with buffoonery, lechery, cheating and his voracious appetite. In the North Pacific Coyote is noted for his cleverness. In all regions,Coyote periodically gets his comeuppance even if it takes several lifetimes.

Coyote also represents the sheerly spontaneous part of life. He reminds us that celebrations of life go on today. He reminds us that there is laughter amid tears, and sadness tucked away in a tale. The Sioux medicine man, Lame Deer, said, “Coyote, Iktome, and all clowns are sacred. They are a necessary part of us. A people who have so much to cry about as Indians do also need their laughter to survive.”2

A myth of the Maidu people of California tells how Wonomi made the first people. Coyote soon grew bored watching their happy, easy life. To make things more interesting, he gave to humankind sickness, sorrow, and death. As luck would have it, the first person to die was Coyote’s own son, bitten by Coyote’s companion, Rattlesnake.

Another trickster in Native America was Nanabozho of the Algonquins of the Northwest Woodlands. He is also known as Nanabush. He lived with his younger brother until the brother was drowned by jealous spirits. In a fit of fury, Nanabozho attacked the murderers until they revealed to him the details of a sacred ceremony, called the Mide. The ceremony was so powerful that the drowned brother was raised from the dead and appointed chief of the Underworld.

2Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz, American Indian Myths and Legends. New York: Pantheon, 1984, p.336

The common type of African folktale tells us about a very human-acting animal who uses his wit and cunning to take advantage of bigger and stronger animals. Sometimes this animal will help others, but it will always take care of itself first.

These animal creatures are relatively insignificant and powerless in themselves, but often use their cunning to outwit more powerful beasts such as the lion, the hyena or the elephant. For example, the Zande people of Central Africa tell of Ture the Spider who meets a man-eating monster with a double-sided gong that he uses to trap people.

In this story to gain the monster’s confidence Ture offers to climb into the gong, but leaves his arm sticking out so that the monster is unable to close it. Ture the Spider asks the monster to show him how to do it properly. The creature obliges and Ture slams the gong shut and kills him.

Another myth known over most of Africa is when the trickster Hare decides to get married. However, he is too lazy to do the work to support a wife. He thinks of a better way of getting the work done and goes into the bush with a long rope to look for Hippopotamus.

Hare tells Hippopotamus that he wants to tie this rope to him to see if he can pull him. Hare tells Hippopotamus that when he sees the rope move he is to pull hard. Hippo obviously knows he can out pull Hare, but still agrees.

Then Hare goes to meet Elephant and tells a similar story. Hare then goes to the middle of the rope and jerks it on both sides. Hippo and Elephant begin pulling and their tug-of-war lasts until sundown. Their struggle has then cleared the land, which is the work hare didn’t want to do.

Now Hare can support a wife.

There are many, many African tricksters in myths and folktales. Some of them are:

1. Gizo ñ the spider trickster of the Hausa tribe of West Africa.He is sometimes a villain to the Hausa . His exploits include numerous adventures that are part of the repertoires of other African tricksters.
2. Anansi/ Kwaku (Uncle) Anansi ñ the spider, who behaves like a man, of the Ashanti and related Akan peoples of West Africa.
Anansi is the paramount trickster hero of the Ashanti and related Akan peoples. He is also a culture hero and, frequently, a buffoon. He is preoccupied with outfitting the creatures of the field and forest, men and even the deities.

Sometimes he is seen sympathetically, even as wise. He is more often characterized as cunning, predatory, greedy, gluttonous and without scruples. Although he may be admired for his frequent victories over those who are larger and stronger than himself, he does not usually gain moral approval. He can be shrewd, yet he is often stupid or an unwitting clown.

3. Ijapa - the tortoise of the Yoruba tribe of West Africa.
Ijapa is shrewd, sometimes wise, conniving, greedy, indolent, unreliable, ambitious, exhibitionistic, unpredictable, aggressive, generally preposterous, and sometimes stupid. Though he has bad character, his tricks, if ingenious enough, can excite admiration. Ijapa survived in the United States Black folklore as Brother Terrapin.

4. Spider - of the Fiote People of Central Africa.
5. Hare - of the Bantu peoples of the Republic of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Zambia.
The Hare is found in stories in most parts of Africa. One southern African story tells how Hare lost humans the chance of immortality. The moon sent Hare to the first people with the message, “Just as the Moon dies and rises again so shall you.” But Hare got the message wrong and told them, “Just as the Moon dies and perishes so shall you”. When the Moon found out what Hare had said, she beat him on the nose with a stick, and since that day Hare’s nose has been split.

6. Jackal - of the Hottentots of the Kalahari Desert and its fringes (Namibia and western Botswana).
7. Jackal - of Somalia.
8. Abunuwas (also called Kibunwasi) - from East Africa and other offshore islands of Zanzibar, Madagascar and Mauritius.
Abunuwas is sometimes also called Kibunwasi. He was originally a celebrated eighth century Arab poet. He is genial, clever, cynical and a flouter of morals. Abunuwas is the human equivalent of the spider, the tortoise and the hare of Africa folklore.

9. Eshu ñ the mischievous messenger of the gods of theYoruba tribe of southern Nigeria.
Eshu can be unpredictable, violent and a spreader of false rumors. It is said that Eshu is responsible for all quarrels between human beings, and between humans and gods. He is also known as Eleba or Legba in Benin.

Eshu is the most cunning of all the divinities. He is described as a homeless, wandering spirit, who can be found in the market place, at crossroads, and the thresholds of houses. Eshu is always involved whenever there is change and/or transition.

In one myth Eshu gets the sun and the moon to agree to change houses, which reverses the order of the day. In this best-known story Eshu manages to break up a lifelong friendship between the two “men”. The sun and the moon farm adjoining plots of land and they have become such good friends that they are always seen together and even dress alike. Eshu decides to play a trick on them.

Eshu decides to walk down the path, which divides their farms wearing a hat, which is black on one side and white on the other. He puts his pipe at the back of his head and hooks his club over one shoulder so that it hangs down his back. After Eshu passes by, the two friends quarrel about the direction the stranger has taken and the color of his hat. The quarrel becomes so out-of-proportion that the king himself learns of it and calls for the two men.

Each friend accuses the other of lying. Then Eshu comes and tells the kind that neither is a liar but that both are fools. The king sends his men after Eshu and the gods outrun him. Of course, Eshu uses his trickery to save himself…

There are even a great number of entertaining songs about the trickster Eshu. The following is a Yoruba example.

____Eshu slept in the house, but the house was too small for him.
____Eshu slept on the veranda, but the veranda was too small for him.
____Eshu slept in a nut ñ at last he could stretch himself.
____Eshu walked through a groundnut farm ñ the tuft of his hair was just visible.
____If it had not been for his huge size, he would not have been seen at all.
____Having thrown a stone yesterday, he kills a bird today.
____Lying down, his head hits the roof.
____Standing up, he cannot see into the cooking pot.
____Eshu turns right into wrong.
____Wrong into right. 3
When the first African Americans brought trickster tales with them to the United States and the Caribbean West Indies they began to make up new trickster tales of their own about the kind of animals they encountered in the American South, Jamaica, the Bahamas and other Caribbean Islands. All of these new tales kept the pattern of the African trickster tales where a resourceful animal hero having human traits used deceit and sly trickery, and sometimes magic, to get what it needed from bigger and strong animals.

Many freed slaves from England returned to Freetown, Sierra Leone after they fought for the British during the Revolutionary War. Some slaves from the Caribbean and those from slave ships captured by the British navy also returned to Sierra Leone. These peoples became known as Sierra Leone Creoles and today they outnumber the Mende and Temne inhabitants who had migrated from central Africa. So some trickster tales that had come originally from Africa, moved to America and the Caribbean and then returned to Africa through the Sierra Leone Creoles.

I chose the following African myths/folk tales:

1. Anansi’s Rescue from the River (spider) which comes from the Ashanti tribe in Ghana.
2. Ijapa and Yanrinbo Swear an Oath (tortoise) which comes from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria.
3Roy Willis, World Mythology. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1993, p.274

3. Zomo the Rabbit (hare), which comes from the Bantu-speaking people from Angola, Gabon, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
My selection offers the children a variety. Anansi’s Rescue from the River is a “pourquoi” story that tells why the moon is always seen in the heavens. Ijapa and Yanrinbo Swear an Oath tells how the tortoise and his wife outwitted a punishment. And Zomo the Rabbit tells how the hare received wisdom.

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Suggested Myths/Folktales for Children


Gizo ñ Spider Deals with the Famine

Anansi - Anansi Proves He Is the Oldest

Anansi Owns All Tales That Are Told (A Story, A Story)

Anansi Borrows Money

How Debt Came to Ashanti

The Hat-Shaking Dance

Anansi Plays Dead

Ijapa -How Ijapa, Who Was Short, Became Long

Ijapa Cries for His Horse

Ijapa and the Oba Repair a Roof

Ijapa and the Hot-Water Test

Ijapa Goes to the Osanyin Shrine

Spider of the Fiote ñ How the Spider Won and Lost Nzambi’s Daughter

Jackal of the Hottentot ñ The Cloud-Eaters

Jackal of the Somali ñ The Lion’s Share

West Indian

That One, Anansi

Magic Anansi

Cunnie Anansi Does Some Good

African American

Buh Rabby and Bruh Gator

Buzzard and Wren Have a Race

The Cat and the Rat

Bruh Wolf and Bruh Rabbit Join Together

Bre’r Rabbit and Bre’r Fox

Native American

Coyote, Iktome, and the Rock (White River Sioux)

How Beaver Stole Fire from the Pines (Nez Perce)

How Beaver Stole Fire from the Pines (Nez Perce)

The Raven (Athapascan)

The Bluebird and Coyote (Pima)

Adventures of Great Rabbit (Algonquian)

Turkey Makes the Corn and Coyote Plants It (White Mountain Apache)

Coyote Takes Wafter from the Frog People (Kalapuya)

How the People Got Arrowheads (Shasta)

Coyote Fights a Lump of Pitch (White Mountain Apache)

Glooscap Grants Three Wishes (Algonquian)

Coyote Gets Rich off the White Men (White Mountain Apache)

How to Scare a Bear (Tewa)

How Coyote Got His Cunning (Karok)

Coyote Dances with a Star (Cheyenne)

Japanese ñ The Teapot Badger

Hawaiian ñ The Origin of the Volcano


In this story Anansi has six sons. When each son is born he has already been given a specific name which is translated in the story. Anansi’s sons’ names and translations are:

1.Akakai -Able to See Trouble
2.Twa Akwan -Road Builder
3.Hwe Nsuo -Able to Dry Up Rivers
4.Adwafo -The Skinner of Game
5.Toto Abuo -Stone Thrower
6.Da Yi Ya -Lie on the Ground Like a Cushion
As the story continues, Kwaku (Uncle) Anansi goes on a long journey.

Anansi fails to return from this long journey and his family worried.

Fortunately, Akakai (Able to See Trouble) visualizes that Anansi had fallen into a distant river in the middle of a dense jungle.

Twa Akwan (Road Builder) constructs a highway through the jungle so he and his brothers can reach Anansi and help him. They finally arrive at the river.

Hwe Nsuo (Able to Dry Up Rivers) dries up the river. The brothers find a great fish there who had swallowed Anansi.

Adwafo (The Skinner of Game) cuts the fish and saves Anansi.

However, no sooner had Anansi been released than a large hawk swooped out of the sky and caught Anansi in his mouth and soared off with him.

Toto Abuo (The Stone Thrower) threw a roack into the sky and hit the hawk, which released Anansi. Now, unfortunately, Anansi had a long journey down the the earth.

Da Yi Ya (Lie on the Ground Like a Cushion) saves the day by throwing himself on the ground to soften his father’s fall. Consequently, Kwaku Anansi was saved by his six sons and brought home to his village.

However, this does not end the story… One day when Anansi was in the forest, he found a bright and beautiful object, which was called Moon. He had seen nothing like it before. He thought it was the most magnificent object he had ever seen. So Anansi resolved to give it to one of his children.

Anansi sent a message to Nyame, the Sky God, telling him about his discovery. He asked Nyame to come and see the Moon, and to help Anansi award it as a prize to one of his sons ñ the one who had done the most to rescue him when he was lost in the river.

The Sky God came as Anansi requested and held the Moon. Anansi then sent for his sons. When Anansi’s sons saw the Moon, each of them wanted it. They argued and argued.

The one who had located Anansi in the river in the jungle said he deserved the prize.

The one who had built the road said he deserved it.

The one who had dried up the river said he deserved it.


The one who had cut Anansi out of the fish said he deserved it.

The one who had hit the hawk with the stone said he deserved it.

The one who had cushioned Anansi’s fall to earth said he deserved it.

They argued back and forth, and no one listened to anybody else. The argument went on and one and became a violent squabble.

Nyame the Sky God didn’t know who should have the prize. He listened to the arguments for a long time. Then he became impatient. He got up from where he sat and went back to the sky, taking the Moon along with him.

And that is why the Moon is always seen in the heavens, where Nyame took it, and not on the earth where Anansi found it!2

2Harold Courlander, A Treasury of African Folklore. New York: Marlowe & Company, 1996, p.139-40.

Names_____________________Day/Date __________ #1A


Anansi’s first son was named __________________.

His name meant ____________________________.

Anansi’s second son was named _______________.

His name meant ____________________________.

Anansi’s third son was named _________________.

His name meant ____________________________.

Anansi’s fourth son was named ________________.

His name meant ____________________________.

Anansi’s fifth son was named __________________.

His name meant ____________________________.

Anansi’s sixth son was name __________________.

His name meant ____________________________.

One day Anansi went on a long _____________.

After several weeks, Anansi did not _____________.@$:

His son, ________________, knew that Anansi had fallen into a distant river.

Therefore, ______________ constructed a highway through the jungle.

________________ dried up the river where they found a great fish, which had swallowed Anansi.

________________ cut into the fish and released their father, Anansi.

No sooner was Anansi freed than a large ________ swooped down and caught Anansi in his mouth.

________________ threw a rock into the sky and hit the hawk, which let go of Anansi.

As Anansi dropped toward the earth, _____________ threw himself on the ground like a cushion to soften his father’s fall.

16. Kwaku Anansi was saved by his __________ sons who brought him home to his village.

17. One day when Anansi was in the forest, he found a bright and beautiful object which was a ____________.

18. Anansi sent a message to __________, the Sky God.

19. Anansi wanted Nyame to hold the Moon and to give it to the son who had done the most to rescue him.

20. Anansi sent for his sons and the sons argued because ____________________________________

___________________________________________. 21. Nyame got tired of listening to the arguments and became __________________.

So Nyame went back to the _____________.

That is why the Moon is always seen in the _________.

Names ___________________ Day/Date __________#1a

Discussion Questions for Partners/Cooperative Groups

Was Anansi a wise father? ___________

Why or why not? __________________________

Do you think one of the sons deserves the moon more than the others? ______________

Why? ___________________________________

How do you think they could have managed to keep the moon? _______________________________

Why do you think someone made up this story?

* _________________________________________ Do you think the author made up the sons’ names first or the story first? ________________________

Why? _____________________________________

When did you first know that this story was a make-believe story? _________________________

What part of the story did you like best? _________

Why? _____________________________________

If you could change one “thing” in this story, what would it be? _______________________________

Why? ____________________________________

Names __________________ Day/Date____________#1B


The Aconite was also an area in Western Africa which was protected by _________________.

a. The United States of America

b. Great Britain

c. France

This Ashanti area is now part of ______________.

a. Nigeria

b. Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

c. Ghana

Ghana is close to the __________________.

a. Mediterranean Sea
b. Pacific Ocean

c. English Channel

d. Gulf of Guinea

Most of the people are ______________.

a. farmers

b. fishermen

c. teachers

Ghana used to be called the Colony of the Gold Coast because ___________.

a. it is always sunny there. b. the people wear a lot of gold jewelry.

c. there is a lot of gold that is found there.

In the Ashanti area more than half of the Ashanti land is used for _________________.

a. bananas

b. cotton

c. cocoa

Ghana’s capital and largest city is _________________.

a. Accra

b. Kumasi

c. Sekondi-Takoradi

The British gained control of the Ashanti through __________.

a. treaties

b. wars

c. both of the above

Some of the principal food crop/crops are ___________.

a. corn

b. rice

c. cassavas

d. yams

e. bananas

f. all of the above

The most rain falls in the _______________.

a. summer

b. spring

c. fall

d. spring and fall

The Ashanti live in ________________.

a. central Ghana

b. southwestern Ghana

c. eastern Ghana

Ghana became an independent nation about ___ years ago.

a. 20

b. 30

c. 40

The temperature in Ghana is always like ____________.

a. spring

b. summer

c. fall

(Answers in the appendix)

Names _________________ Day/Date ____________#1C

Title: Anansi’s Rescue from the River

Characters ñ Main one(s)



Supporting one(s)








Problem (s)














Names _________________ Day/Date _____________#1D


If Akakai is sitting near the river and his brother, Twa Akwan, joins him, how many brothers are there now? __________

If all six brothers are in their house and two of them leave, how many remain in the house? _______________

If three brothers are hunting and two more brothers join them, how many brothers are hunting now? ___________

If four brothers are walking toward the river and both Hwe Nsuo and Adwafo leave, how many continue to the

river? ___________ If all six brothers are sleeping, but Toto Abuo and Da Yi Ya wake and can’t get back to sleep, how many brothers are sleeping? _________

If Adwafo gets lost in the jungle and his brothers search for him, how many brothers are searching for him? _______

If all the brothers are at the dinner table with their father and mother, how many are at the table? ___________

Now write two math problems about the brothers by yourself.





Ijapa was a lazy and shiftless character who did not tend his own garden. His wife Yanrinbo was also lazy and shiftless. She spent all her time making conversation with other women, sometimes in the market, sometimes on the trail, sometimes at the stream where the laundering was done.

So… between the two of them, nothing much was ever put away for a time of need. Then there came a drought in the country, and food was very scarce. Other people did not have enough food supplies to spare anything for Ijapa and his wife. They were faced with hunger. They had a BIG problem.

Ijapa noticed that his neighbor Bamidele had a storage house full of yams. Ijapa felt it was not right that Bamidele had yams while Ijapa and Yanrinbo had none.”

Ijapa made a plan. One day before daylight, he woke Yanrinbo. She took a large basket, and the two of them went to Bamidele’s place. When they approached the storage house, Ijapa told Yanrinbo to sit on his shoulders. She did this and placed the basket on her head.

____________________________________________ Ijapa went to the storage house. There they filled the basket with yams with his Yanrinbo sitting on his shoulders with the basket on her head. They returned the same way they had come. When they arrived home, they emptied the basket and went back for more. The second time, like the first, Yanrinbo sat on Ijapa’s shoulders with the basket on her head. They made many trips the same way, until they had enough.

Bamidele, discovered that a large portion of his yams was missing a few days later. He noticed the footprints led towards Ijapa’s house. Bamidele asked here and there. And at last he decided to bring Ijapa and Yanrinbo before the chief and accused them of taking his yams.

Now, the custom was to take persons accused of a crime to a particular shrine, where they would either admit their guilt or swear their innocence. If they confessed they were punished according to the law. If they swore they were innocent, they had to drink a bowl of agbo, which was an herb drink prepared by the priest.

If the oath they had sworn was true nothing was supposed to happen to them. But if they lied, the agbo would make them sick. This way everyone would know the truth.

The chief ordered Ijapa and Yanrinbo to appear before this holy shrine. The village people came to watch the trial. Ijapa and Yanrinbo kneeled before the shrine while the priest made the agbo. Ijapa was called upon to swear his oath.


He swore: “If I, Ijapa, the husband of Yanrinbo, ever stretched up my hand to remove yams from Bamidele’s storage house, may I fall sick instantly and die.”

Then Yanrinbo swore: “If I, Yanrinbo, wife of Ijapa, ever used my legs to carry me to Bamidele’s storage house to steal yams, may I fall sick instantly and die.”

The priest then gave Ijapa and Yanrinbo a large bowl of agbo to drink. They drank. They did not fall ill. Nothing at all happened. Seeing this, the chief said: “Their oaths were true. Therefore, release them.” So Ijapa and Yanrinbo were released.

What they had sworn was not false, for Yanrinbo had not used her legs to get to the storage house. She had ridden on Ijapa’s shoulders. And Ijapa had not raised his hands to carry away the yams. It was Yanrinbo who had raised her hands to balance the basket on her head.3

____3Harold Courlander, A Treasury of African Folklore. New York: Marlowe & Company, 1996, p.226-7.

Name__________________Day/Date _____________#2A

Ijapa was lazy and did not tend his own _________________.

His wife, Yanrinbo spent all her time _________________.

They never saved any _________ for hard times.

Then there came a _________________.

A drought is when _________________________________.

Ijapa and Yanrinbo had no yams, but their neighbor, ________________ , had many yams.

Ijapa made a ______________.

He told Yanrinbo to bring a large ________________.

Ijapa told Yanrinbo to sit on his _________________ and to put the basket on her ________________.

They went to the storage house and got lots of __________.

A few days later, Bamidele, the neighbor discovered that many yams were ________________.

Bamidele noticed that the footprints led to Ijapa’s __________.

Bamidele brought Ijapa and Yanrinbo before the ___________.

There they would admit their guild or swear their __________. If they swore innocence, they then had to drink a bowl of ______________, which would make them sick if they lied.

Ijapa said, “If I, Ijapa, the husband of Yanrinbo, ever stretched up my __________ to remove yams, may I fall sick instantly and die.

Yanrinbo swore: “If I, Yanrinbo, wife of Ijapa, ever used my __________ to carry me to Bamidele’s storage house to steal yams, may I fall sick and die.”

They drank the agbo and did not get ____________.

The chief let them __________.

The tricky part of this story is that _____________________

Names ___________________ Day/Date _________#2a

Discussion Questions for Partners/Cooperative Groups

What kind of “people” are Ijapa and Yanrinbo? _____________________________________

Why do you think that? ____________________

Do you think they deserved to starve? ________

Why? __________________________________

Why do you think they didn’t ask Bamidele for some yams? ___________________________________

What do you think Bamidele would have said if they had asked him for some yams? _______________

Why? ____________________________________

Do you think Ijapa and Yanrinbo had planned their “stealing” way in advance? _____________

Why? ____________________________________

Do you think the method of justice was fair or not? _________________

Why? _____________________________________

What do you think the agbo tasted like? _________

Why? _____________________________________

If you had to change a part of the story, what part would you change? _________________________

Why? ____________________________________

Names ___________________ Day/Date __________#2B


The Yoruba tribe is located in ________________.

a. Cameroon

b. Zaire

c. Nigeria

The Yoruba tribe lives in the ___________ of Nigeria.

a. north

b. east

c. southwest

The Yoruba are mainly ______________.

a. Christian

b. Muslim

c. Christian and Muslim

There are ________ different languages spoken in Nigeria.

a. 50

b. 150

c. 250

The official language is _______________.

a. Hausa b. Ibo

c. English

Nigeria’s capital is ______________.

a. Abuja

b. Oshogba

c. Calabar

Nigeria’s wet (rain, rain, rain) season is _______________.

a. May to November.

b. November to February.

c. February to April.

d. Nigeria’s dry (a very hot period) season is ________________.

e. February to May.

f. May to September.

g. October to January.

In southern Nigeria there are __________________.

a. dense forests.

b. well-wooded grasslands.

c. both of the above.

In the south some of the product(s) grown are ____________.

a. yams

b. cassava

c. rice

d. beets

_______________ in Nigeria has hurt its environment.

a. Rapid population growth

b. Poor use of land.

c. Change of climate.

d. Poor development policy.

e. all of the above.

Nigeria has three major regions which are the north Hausa-speaking area, the Yoruba region in the southwest and the region in the east dominated by the ____________.

a. Ibo

b. Jebba

c. Aba

Nigeria’s economy (how people live) depends greatly on ____.

a. oil

b. iron

c. coal

d. gold(Answers in the appendix)
Names __________________ Day/Date ___________#2C

Title: Ijapa and Yanrinbo Swear an Oath

Characters ñ Main one(s)



Supporting one(s)








Problem (s)




_________________________________________ _________________________________________









@Text:Names __________________ Day/Date ____________ #2D IJAPA AND YANRINBO SWEAR AN OATH ñ Math Problems

We are going to pretend that Yanrinbo could ONLY fit three yams in her basket each time she visited Bamidele’s storage house. And… that each time she had to choose a different combination of yams. (YOU AREN’T ALLOWED TO DUPLICATE A COMBINATION!)

There are red yams, brown yams and orange yams. How many combinations can you find? (Use the table below or cut and paste the yams into paper baskets.)


____ ____red yams brown yams orange yams

basket #1 __________________________________
basket #2______________________________________
basket #3______________________________________
basket #4______________________________________
basket #5______________________________________
basket #6______________________________________
basket #7______________________________________
basket #8______________________________________
basket #9______________________________________
basket #10______________________________________
(You may not need all these baskets…)


A Trickster Tale from West Africa

Zomo was not very big or strong, but he was a very clever rabbit. But, Zomo wanted more than cleverness ñ he wanted wisdom! So he went to Sky God and asked for wisdom.

The Sky God told Zomo that to get wisdom, he would have to earn it.” The Sky God told Zomo that he would have to do three impossible things.” They were:

1. To bring the scales of Big Fish in the sea to him.
2. To bring the milk of Wild Cow to him.
3. To bring the tooth of Leopard to him.
Zomo said he would try to do exactly that.

Zomo went to edge of the sea to find Big Fish. He began to play his drum. He played so loud his drumbeats went down to the bottom of the sea. Big Fish heard the music of the drum.


Big Fish then came up out of the water and danced on the sand. Zomo began to beat his drum faster and faster. Then Big Fish danced faster and faster and faster.

____________________________________________ Big Fish then danced so fast his scales fell off. Big Fish became naked and quickly jumped back into the sea.

________________________________________ Zomo scooped up all the fish scales in his hat and hopped into the forest. While in the forest, Zomo climbed a palm tree and looked all around. That was when he saw Wild Cow.

He goaded Wild Cow by telling Wild Cow that he wasn’t big and strong, which angered Wild Cow. Zomo dared Wild Cow to knock down the little palm tree.

Wild Cow got so angry that she ran at the tree to knock it down. However, the palm tree was soft and her horns got stuck in the tree.

____________________________________________ While Wild Cow was stuck, Zomo slid down the tree and he turned his drum upside down and filled it with milk.

____________________________________________ Zomo then took the path to the top of a high hill. This path led to the hill where Leopard walked every day. Zomo tipped his hat and sprinkled a few fish scales on the path. Then Zomo tipped his drum and spilled a few drops of milk on the path.

____________________________________________ Then Zomo went to the bottom of the hill and hid behind a rock. Soon Leopard came walking over the hill. Leopard slipped on the slippery scales and the milk, rolled down the hill and hit the rock. His tooth immediately popped out. Zomo caught that tooth and hopped away.

____________________________________________@Text:Zomo took the scales of Big Fish, the milk of Wild Cow, and the tooth of Leopard to Sky God. Sky God smiled upon Zomo. “You are clever enough to do the impossible,” he said. “Now I will give you wisdom.” ____________________________________________
Sky God spoke. Zomo listened. “Three things in this world are worth having: courage, good sense, and caution,” said Sky God. “Little rabbit, you have lots of courage, a bit of sense, but no caution. So next time you see Big Fish, or Wild Cow, or Leopard… … better run fast!”

Zomo is not big.
Zomo is not strong.
But now Zomo has wisdom.
And he is very, very fast.4
4Gerald McDermott (Told & Illustrated), ZOMO The Rabbit. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1992.

(This is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL picture book that can be purchased through your local book store!)

Names _________________Day/Date _____________#3A

1. Zomo is not big, not strong, but he is very ___________.

2. Zomo wanted __________________.

3. So Zomo went to the ___________ _____________.

4. To get wisdom, Zomo had to do _________ things.

5. The first was to get the scales of _______ ________.

6. The second was to get the milk of _________ ________.

@Text:7. The third was to get the tooth of ____________. 8. Zomo got the scales of Big Fish by _______________

___________________________________________. 9. Zomo got the milk of Wild Cow by _________________________________________________________.

10. Zomo got the tooth of Leopard by __________________________________________________________.

11. Zomo took the scales of Big Fish, the milk of Wild Cow and the tooth of Leopard to the _________ __________.

12. The Sky God gave Zomo _______________.

13. Now Zomo is still not big, still not strong, but he has wisdom and he is very, very _______________!

Names _____________________ Day/Date ________#3a

Discussion Questions for Partners/ Cooperative Groups

Why do you think Zomo wanted wisdom?


Why do you think the Sky God told Zomo he had to earn wisdom instead of giving it to Zomo?


How did Zomo show his cleverness with the

a. Big Fish? ________________________________

b. Wild Cow? _______________________________

c. Leopard? ________________________________

Why did Sky God say that Zomo did the impossible? __________________________________________

Why did Sky God tell Zomo to run fast the next time he meets Big Fish, Wild Cow or Leopard?


Do you have courage, good sense and/or caution? __________________________________________

How do you know that? _________________________

What is the message in this story?



Names ______________________ Day/Date ______________#3B
ZOMO THE RABBIT ñ Social Studies


The Bantu-speaking peoples cover central, east and ___________ Africa.

a. north

b. west

c. south

Bantu-speaking peoples are found in Angola, Gabon, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and _____________.

a. Ghana

b. Nigeria

c. Zimbabwe

Bantu peoples make up most of __________ population.

a. Angola’s

b. Gabon’s

c. Nigeria’s

Bantu peoples are mostly ________________.

a. farmers

b. businessmen

c. both of the above

Some of the crop(s) grown in the lowlands of Angola are _____________.

a. sugarcane

b. cotton

c. beans

d. rice

e. corn

f. all of the above

Cattle are raised in the plateau areas because _________.

a. there is abundant grass there.

b. they are safe from the tsetse flies (sleeping sickness) there.

c. there is enough room there for grazing.

Although there are more than 40 ethnic groups or tribes in Gabon, the official language is _________.

a. Bantu

b. Mpongwe

c. French

The chief wood export of Gabon is _______________.

a. oak

b. pine

c. mahogany

Although Bantu languages are heard often in Zimbabwe, the official language there is ______________.

a. English

b. French

c. Portuguese

Zimbabwe’s economy (way of life) is dependent on _________.

a. gold

b. copper

c. nickel

d. iron

e. chrome

f. asbestos

g. all of the above

Agriculturally Zimbabwe is dependent on _____________.

a. cotton

b. tobacco

c. citrus fruits(Answers in the appendix)
@Text:Names __________________ Day/Date ___________#3C

Title: Zomo the Rabbit

Characters ñ Main one(s)

______________________________________ Supporting one(s)








Problem (s)




_________________________________________ _________________________________________









Names __________________ Day/Date ___________#3D
Partner’s name _______________________

ZOMO THE RABBIT - Math Problems

Use your balance to find the weights of the scales, milk and tooth with your partner using the following units.

Unifix cubes______________________________
Large paperclips______________________________
Teddy Bear Counters______________________________
Two Color Countes______________________________
Now pick some units of your own.


Which one weighed the most? ___________________
Which one weighed the least?___________________
Names _________________ Day/Date ____________ #4A


Main character(s) _______________________________________

Supporting one(s) ______________________________________



Events……..a. _____________________________________

________ _________________________________________


(You may prefer to use large chart paper for this activity along with using cooperative groups.)

Names ____________________Day/Date ________#4B


Social Studies

Ashanti Yoruba Bantu
Geographical Area____________________________________
Main Occupation____________________________________
Noteworthy History____________________________________
Main crops____________________________________
Capital city____________________________________
Main religion____________________________________
Official Language____________________________________
Additional Categories____________________________________
(You may prefer to use large chart paper for this activity along with using cooperative groups.)

Names ____________________ Day/Date _________#4C

Use this chart to write your plans for your trickster tale.

Who is the trickster?


Who gets tricked?


What is the trick?


What happens at the end?


What is the title of this trickster tale?

(Ghana ñ Ashanti) (Nigeria ñ Yoruba)

Background ñ The Arabic word mancala, meaning “transferring” is the generic name for a set of similar board games played in a number of different regions of the world. Although the names, rules and boards vary, the principles remain basically the same. Some games are played on boards having two rows of six holes; other more complex games are played on boards having four rows of eight holes.

Mancala games have been know and played for thousands of years. In Egypt the boards have been discovered carved into the stone of the great pyramid of Cheops and the temples at Luxor and Karnak. The game spread to the rest of Africa and to Asia, the Philippines, the West Indies and Surinam in South America as well.

Oware or Adi, also known as Wari, is a two-row version of the game played by the Ashanti people of Ghana in West Africa. It is also know n as Ayo or Azigo in Nigeria, home of the Yoruba tribe. An Oware board is often carved from a piece of wood or a gourd and brightly painted. In ancient times, kings and chiefs sometimes had boards carved from ivory and inlaid with precious metals.

Materials -
an egg carton
48 beans or pebbles
Remove the lid of the egg carton and cut it in half. Attach one half of the lid to each end of the lower portion of the carton. See the diagram below.

Number of Players -2
Object of the Game -
Oware/Ayo is a game of logic ñ each player must consider the advantages and disadvantages of possible moves. For young students Oware provides practice in counting. The object is to capture 25 beans, more than half the total. (If desired, the player having the most beans at the end of the game can be considered the winner.)

Players must pay attention not only to their own side of the board but also to their opponent’s side. Cups having one or two beans are vulnerable to capture. Players can defend their cups by moving their own beans so that one or two do not remain in a single cup. Or they can move their beans around the board to load the opponent’s cups in such a way that the opponent’s last bean will not land in the other player’s vulnerable cups.

How to play -
To begin, four beans are placed in each egg cup. Players face each other with the board between them. A player’s side of the board includes the six cups on his or her side and the lid, or pot, to the right. Movement is to the player’s right ñ counterclockwise.

The first player removes four beans from any cup on his or her side and sows them one by one in the next four cups. On the first move it is possible, depending on which cup is emptied, to place beans in the opponent’s cups. (Players do not sow beans in either of the pots: these are for captured beans only.) The second player removes all the beans from any cup on his or her side and distributes them similarly around the board.

Since cups can hold many beans, it is possible to go around the board more than once during a turn. As players go around the board, they skip the empty cup from which they last removed their beans and leave it empty for that turn.

Captures are made as follows -

If the last bean a player sows lands in a cup on the opponent’s side that contains only one or two beans, that cup is then captured. This last bean plus the opponent’s bean(s) must total no more than three.

When this condition is met, the player is also permitted to take beans from all cups preceding it if:

Each cup contains two or three beans.
The cups are on the opponent’s side of the board.
The cups are consecutive.
@Text:All captured beans as well as the last bean are placed in the player’s pot. No move is permitted that would enable the player to capture all the opponent’s beans. (Such a move would make it impossible for the opponent to play.) When one side of the board is empty and it is the opposing player’s turn, that player must move beans to the other side if possible so the game can continue. If, however, it is the player’s side that is empty, then the game is over. The player who still has beans adds them to his or her own pot.

If a game continues on and on with only a few beans on the board, players may agree to stop. They then take the beans on their side of the board for their own pot and the player with the most beans wins.

Pacing Chart

Week 1 ñ Anansi’s Rescue from the River ñ Ashanti/spider
____Day 1 ñ Introduction of story
____Day 2 ñ Reread story (shared and/or guided reading) + #1A/1a
____Day 3 ñ Social Studies #1B/Game Activity
____Day 4 ñ Language Arts #1C/Mathematics #1D
____Day 5 ñ Art and/or Dramatics
Week 2 ñ Ijapa and Yanrinbo Swear an Oath ñ Yoruba/tortoise
____Day 1 ñ Introduction of story
____Day 2 ñ Reread story (shared and/or guided reading) + #2A/2a
____Day 3 ñ Social Studies #2B/Game Activity
____Day 4 ñ Language Arts #2C/Mathematics #2D
____Day 5 ñ Art and/or Dramatics
Week 3 ñ Zomo the Rabbit ñBantu/hare
____Day 1 ñ Introduction of story
____Day 2 ñ Reread story (shared and/or guided reading)+ #3A/3a
____Day 3 ñ Social Studies #3B/Game Activity
____Day 4 ñ Language Arts #3C/Mathematics #3D
Day 5 ñ Art and/or Dramatics

Week 4 ñ Comparisons of myths/folktales (Cooperative Groups)
____Day 1 ñ Review the three stories orally+ #4A
____Day 2 ñ Partner choice reading in their storybooks which include
____________all three stories.
____Day 3 ñ Comparisons of the Ashanti, Bantu & Yoruba tribes
____________(Social Studies #4B)
____Day 4 ñ Language Arts #4C/ Mathematics #4D
____Day 5 ñ Art and/or Dramatics Finale
See appendix for art ideas and game activities

For dramatics perform a play or a puppet presentation


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Abrahams, Roger D. African Folktales. Pantheon Books, 1983.

____(Traditional stories of the Black World.)

_______, Afro-American Folktales. Pantheon Books, 1985.

____(Stories from Black traditions in the New World.)

Antubam, K. Ghana’s Heritage of Culture. Leipzig: Kohler and Amerlang, 1963 (Information book)

Bali, Esther. Taroh Folktales. Ibadan, Spectrum Books Ltd., 1990

____(A collection of short tales from the Taroh people of Nigeria which address the trickster hare, the hyena, the tortoise and the


Barker, W.H., and Sinclair, C. West African Folk Tales. London: George Harrap and Co. and Sheldon Press, 1917

Berry, Jack. West African Folktales. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1961

(Collection of folktales from Ghana, Nigeria and Yorubaland.)

Bierlein, J. F., Parallel Myths. New York: Ballantine Books, 1994

____(Discussion of similar myths from different cultures.)

Brownlee, Frank. Lion and Jackal, with Other Native Folk Tales of South Africa. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1938

Bryan, Ashley. The Ox of the Wonderful Horns and Other African Folktales. Hartford: Connecticut Printers, 1971
(An anthology of African tales.)
Courlander, Harold. A Treasury of African Folklore. New York: Marlowe & Company, 1996

( Oral literature, traditions, myths, legends, epics, tales, recollections, wisdom, sayings and humor of the various peoples of Africa.)
_______, with Ezekiel A. Eshugbayi. Olode the Hunter and Other Tales from Nigeria. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1968

_______, with Albert Kofi Prempeh. The Cow-Tail Switch and Other West African Stories. Holt, 1947

_______, with Albert Kofi Prempeh. The Hat-Shaking Dance andOther Ashanti Tales from Ghana. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1957
Cronise, Florence M., and Ward, Henry W. Cunnie Rabbit, Mr. Spider and Other Beef. London, 1903

____(Various African tales.)

Dayrell, Elphinstone. Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria. London, 1910

Ellis, A.B. The Yoruba-Speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa. London, 1894

____(Information book.)

Erdoes, Richard and Ortiz, Alfonso. American Indian Myths and Legends. New York: Pantheon, 1984

Feldman, Susan, ed. African Myths and Tales. New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1963

____(Myths, tales, stories and moral tales from Africa.)

Grunfeld, Frederic V., ed. Games of the World. New York: Holdt, ____Rinehart & Winston, 1975 Leslau, Charlotte and Wolf. Africa Folk Tales. Mt. Vernon, New York: Peter Pauper Press, N.D.

McCarthy, Tara. Multicultural Myths and Legends: Stories and Activities to Promote Cultural Awareness. New York: Scholastic Professional Books, 1994

____(Good teacher tool for Grades 4-7.)

_______, Multicultural Fables and Fairy Tales: Stories and Activities to Promote Literacy and Cultural Awareness.NewYork: Scholastic Professional Books, 1992
(Good teacher tool for Grades 1-4.)
Morgan, Kemi. Legends from Yorubaland. Ibadan, Nigeria: Spectrum Books Limited, 1988.

____(Collection of old tales from the Yoruba people.)

Parrinder, Geoffrey. African Mythology. London: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., 1967

____(Informative book containing myths, legends, folktales, etc. from Africa along with historical and geographical information.)

_______, African Mythology. New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1985

____(Update of above book.)

Philip, Neil. The Illustrated Book of Myths: Tales & Legends of the World. New York: D.K. Publishing, Inc., 1995

____(Beautifully illustrated book of world myths.)

Radin, P., The Trickster. New York: Philosophical Library, 1956

____(Review of the elements of a trickster.)

Rattray, R.S. Akan-Ashanti Folk-Tales. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1931

Torrend, J. Specimens of Bantu Folklore from Northern Rhodesia.London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Company, 1921
Tutuola, Amos. Yoruba Folktales. Ibadan, Nigeria: Ibadan University Press, 1986

(Collection of Yoruba tribe tales.)

Vernon-Jackson, Hugh. West African Folk Tales. London: University of London Press, 1958
Willis, Roy. World Mythology. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1993

____(A thorough review of world mythology.)

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Aardema, Verna. Half a Ball of Kenki. New York: Frederick Wayne, 1979

____(An Ashanti tale about a fly and a leopard.)

_______, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1975

____(Mosquito tells a lie to iguana and the problems that occur.)

Bernstein, Margery, & Kobrin, Janet. The First Morning: An African Myth. New York: Scribner’s, 1976

____(Animal story of how light came into the world.)

Chikwu, Oliver Cromwell Nze. African Folk and Fairy Tales of the Igbo of Nigeria. San Diego, CA; Chukwu

____(Original folk tales and fairy tales from Nigeria.)

Clayton, Bess. The Truth About the Moon. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1983

____(Story of how the moon came to be.) Edmonds, I.G. Trickster Tales. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1966 ____(A collection of trickster tales from all over the world.)

Feraud, Marie. Contes d”Afrique. Paris: Hachette (Stories and fables from Maghreb to Senegal from Mauritania to the Congo. Represents the diversity of the cultures.)

Franz, Gottfried Heinrich. Makinta Tales. Pietermaritzburg: Shuter & Shuter

____(Original tales from South Africa, which are based on actual events.)

Goddesses, Heroes and Shamans: The Young People’s Guide to World Mythology. New York: Kingfisher, 1994

____(Clear, concise and beautifully illustrated.)

Greaves, Nick. When Hippo was Hairy. Bok Books International, 1988

____(Animal tales which explain how animals got certain characteristics as well as further information on the tales.)

Grifalconi, Ann. The Village of Round and Square Houses. New York: Little Brown, 1986.
(West African tale which explains why men and women don’t live together in a Cameroon village.)
Haley, Gail. A Story, A Story. New York: Aladdin, 1970

____(African story of how stories became spread around the world.)

Hamilton, Viriginia. A Ring of Tricksters: Animal Tales from America, the West Indies, and Africa. New York: The Blue Sky Press (Scholastic), 1997
(Great tales, beautifully illustrated.)
_______, In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1988

Mayo, Margaret. Magical Tales from Many Lands. New York: Dutton, 1993

McDermott, Gerald. Anansi the Spider. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1972

____(A story about Anansi and his six sons, which is similar to Anansi’s Rescue from the River.)

_______, ZOMO The Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa. Retold and Illustrated. New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1992

____(Beautifully illustrated picture book.)

Pitcher, Diana. The Mischief Maker. Johannesburg: Capetown, David Philip Publisher.

____(Stories about the trickster hare.) ______, The Calabash Child. Johannesburg: Capetown, David Philip Publisher.

____(Stories about the hare as told in the Bantu tradition.)





Puppets ñ paper bag, finger, box, stick, etc.

Word designs using main characters’ names.

Circle Weaving ñ especially for Anansi’s Rescue from the River.

Mobiles using story elements and/or story characters.

Yarn Line Designs using character shapes.

Repeat design pattern using animal shapes.

Clay animals

Paper weaving using animal outlines

Paper mache animals

Painting ñ water color/tempera

Fingerprint pictures

Flip pictures of a character on 3x5 cards ñ movie style

Animal masks

Finale Ideas ñ Group mural, “TV” paper rolls, Posters, etc.


Spider, turtle or hare pantomime.

Guess My Word! (Using story elements from a particular myth/folktale.)

Anansi (Ijapa/Zomo) Went to Sleep ñ Using different gestures in a circle, remembering the previous gestures.

The Sky God’s Hare ñ In a circle each child adds adjectives ñ in rhythm ñ The Sky God’s Hare is a an awesome hare, continuing through the alphabet.@$:

Undercover Leader ñ A player is sent outside and a leader is chosen to lead the group in an activity from one of the myths/folktales. The player tries to guess who is the leader.

Spider/Turtle/Hare ñ Like Rock/Paper/Scissors ñ Turtle lays eggs. Spider eats the eggs. The turtle bites the hare. The hare steps on the spider.

Anansi and the Moon ñ Variation of Dog & Bone using “space” sounds.

Steal the Yam ñ Variation of Steal the Bacon.

Hot Yam/Moon/Milk ñ Variation of Hot Potato

Spider Tag ñ Someone is it. Players move like spiders.

Ripped Puzzles ñ Picture of story character, color, rip, give to a friend, and he/she reassembles the picture.


Anansi’s Rescue from the River ñ Ashanti Tribe

1. b6.c11.b
2. c7.a12.c
3. d8.c13.b
4. a9.f
5. c10.d
Ijapa and Yanrinbo Swear An Oath ñ Yoruba Tribe

1. c6.a11.e
2. c7.a12.a
3. c8.b13.a
4. c9.c
5. c10.a,b,c
Zomo the Rabbit ñ Bantu Tribe
1. c7.c
2. c8.c
3. a9.a
4. a10.g
5. f11.a

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