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Lesson Plan

Pourquoi Stories: Creating Tales to Tell Why

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

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


Materials and Technology






  • Computers with Internet access

  • LCD projector (optional)

  • The Story of the Milky Way: A Cherokee Tale by Joseph Bruchac and Gayle Ross (Dial Books for Young Readers, 1995)

  • The Story of Lightning and Thunder by Ashley Bryan (Athenaeum, 1993)

  • If You Lived With the Cherokee by Peter and Connie Roop (Scholastic, 1998)

  • Nigeria From A-Z by Tamara Orr (Children's Press, 2005)

  • Chart paper and markers

  • Overhead projector and transparencies

  • Art supplies

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1. Gather and familiarize yourself with pourquoi stories, including two to read aloud during Sessions 1 and 2 and two for students to read as homework. The Pourquoi Stories Booklist has several books to choose from, including The Story of the Milky Way: A Cherokee Tale by Joseph Bruchac and Gayle Ross and The Story of Lightning and Thunder by Ashley Bryan, which are used as examples for read-alouds in this lesson. Search for books online by visiting Zuckerman's Barn. (Type pourquoi stories in the box next to Continue Search, and select the grade and challenge levels to see a customized booklist for your students' abilities.) Pourquoi stories are also available at the Cherokee Stories and Native American Lore websites.

2. After identifying two stories to use as read-alouds, gather background information about the cultures from which the stories came. Suggested resources for this lesson include:

For Nigeria

For the Cherokee

Your goals are to give students a general understanding of the culture, language, values, and traditions. You may choose to have copies of books for students to look at or to allow students to explore some of the websites.

3. Divide students into cooperative groups of three to four students each for the writing project.

4. Make a transparency of the Write Your Own Pourquoi Story handout and plan your own pourquoi story to use as a model for students during Session 3 (see the sample for an example). You may choose to use elements from Nigerian or Cherokee culture that you have found during your research. Make a copy of the handout for each group of students.

5. Make a copy of the Pourquoi Writing Rubric, Reflection Sheet, and Guidelines for Presentations for each student in your class. Make two copies for each student of the Pourquoi Reading Worksheet and a transparency to use for modeling purposes.

6. Gather art supplies for students who choose to create an illustrated narrative for their final project.

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