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Lesson Plan

Pourquoi Stories: Creating Tales to Tell Why

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 45- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Elizabeth Nolan Conners

Weston, Massachusetts


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Read-alouds of The Story of Lightning and Thunder (a Nigerian tale) and The Story of the Milky Way: A Cherokee Tale introduce the concept of a pourquoi tale, a folk tale that explains how or why something came to exist. Background information on the Nigerian and Cherokee cultures (assembled by the teacher from the listed websites) sets the stage for discussion of how beliefs and customs might influence the narrative and the moral of a story. The class works together to outline the key elements of pourquoi stories, and students read and analyze an additional story using the Pourquoi Reading Worksheet. Working in cooperative groups, students then use these stories as a framework on which to write their own pourquoi tales. Final production is either a skit or illustrated narration of each group's story.

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Lancia, P.J. (1997). Literary borrowing: The effects of literature on children's writing. The Reading Teacher, 50(6), 470–475.

  • Being exposed to literature leads to children "borrowing" ideas and incorporating them into their own writing.

  • Children independently borrow elements from a genre and actively use stylistic devices they have read.

  • This literary "borrowing"  is an important stage of children's writing development and is incorporated into this lesson.

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