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Lesson Plan

Preparing for the Journey: An Introduction to the Hero Myth

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Preparing for the Journey: An Introduction to the Hero Myth

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Scott Filkins

Scott Filkins

Champaign, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Session Three


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will:

  • gain exposure to the central elements of the hero's journey monomyth.

  • apply the elements of the hero's journey to a simple text.

  • summarize the elements of the hero's journey in preparation for reading a more advanced text.

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Session One

  1. Begin the session by putting students in groups of three or four and asking them to consider what the following books and films have in common:

    • Star Wars

    • Harry Potter

    • Mulan

    • Lord of the Rings
  2. Allow for brief discussion within groups before letting students share their ideas.

  3. Encourage students as they make connections (such as the presence of a central character who takes a journey, a series of adventures, magical elements, and so forth), but do not feel compelled to start labeling or guiding observations too directly at this point.

  4. Ask students to continue thinking about those connections as they read a picture book within their groups.

  5. Give each group a copy of one of the books from the Introducing the Hero's Journey through Picture Books list.

  6. Have each group read the assigned book and discuss it briefly, noting any connections to the conversation at the beginning of the session.

  7. Collect the picture books for use in the next session.

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Session Two

  1. Have groups from the previous session gather around a computer. Return the book they read previously to them for use during this session.

  2. Direct students to The Hero's Journey tool and have them enter a name for their group and the title of their picture book.

  3. Read through the introductory text with students and inform them that they will be applying the information from the tool to their book.

  4. Briefly demonstrate how the tool works and give students time to apply the tool to their book.

  5. Point out that not every book will contain all the elements, but ask students to note those absences in the tool rather than simply leaving the elements blank. Also ask students to take note of any ways they see their story deviating from the pattern in the tool.

  6. Give students time to complete the tool for their book. Remind them that printing is the only way to save their work. Collect a printout for each group at the end of the session.

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Session Three

  1. Explain to students that they will be using the printouts from The Hero's Journey tool to present their picture books as examples of hero's journey.

  2. Give groups a few minutes to meet before they make their brief, informal presentation.

  3. Remind students to listen attentively as the groups present their books as hero's journeys.

  4. Close the session by clarifying the elements of the hero's journey and previewing the more substantial hero's journey the class will be studying next.

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  • Consider using the ReadWriteThink lesson plan Heroes Are Made of This: Studying the Character of Heroes to enhance the study of the literary hero.

  • Have student groups use the Profile Publisher to create a profile for a hero at the various stages of his or her journey.

  • Have students explore these Websites to further their understanding of a hero's journey:

    • Monomyth: Part of UC Berkeley's History Through Literature Project, this site provides another visual representation of the hero's journey as well as application and activities for three world hero myths.

    • The Monomyth Cycle: This site uses images from popular film to illustrate the elements of the hero's journey.

    • Heroes of History: This site provides an overview of the hero's journey monomyth, as well as examples from Norse, Celtic, Greek, and American culture.

    • Bill Moyers on Faith and Reason: A follow-up Website to the work Bill Moyers did with Joseph Campbell, this page provides text, audio, and video perspectives on the power of myths.

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  • Review groups’ analyses of the picture books for clarity and depth of understanding.

  • At the end of the last session, further assess students’ understanding by asking each student to put the elements of the hero’s journey into their own words.

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