Native American Unit

Native American Legends



Introduction and Rationale:

As part of our 8th grade social studies curriculum, we study Native American Tribes from the various regions of the United States.  In groups of four, my students create PowerPoint presentations that depict the life of the tribe; type of housing, foods they ate, form of government, religious beliefs, role of men, women and children, type of language or communication they used and recreational activities. The overarching question they are to consider is; Are all Native Americans the same?


Native Americans used the oral tradition of storytelling to help them enjoy and understand the world around them. They also preserved their history through storytelling.   Students will be introduced to an assortment of Native American legends by the teacher, in the form of teacher as storyteller, as well as reading legends from the tribe they are researching. The students will learn that the art of using language, vocalization, and physical movement/gestures are the key elements of storytelling.



Intermediate (My students are in the 8th grade)



Students will be introduced to Native American legends and myths, through storytelling.


Students will understand that myths are traditional stories concerning fabulous or supernatural beings, while legends are stories handed down from the past, which lack accurate historical evidence, but are accepted as truth by many tribes.


Students will be able to identify the elements of story that are similar/different to various tribes throughout the United States.


Students will create their own Legend, and present their story to the class in the traditional mode of storytelling.



Teacher provides number of books that include legends and myths of Native Americans from around the United States.


Paper, pencil, imagination.




Three weeks, integrated with Native American PowerPoint lesson.



The teacher will begin by telling students a number of Native American stories in the formal storytelling manner.  Discussion will follow as to what elements of story they found similar and different.  (A story is a logically organized body of information presented in some sequential order, focuses on the experiences and actions of characters, internal and external goals are the central theme, problems and struggles of one or more of the story’s characters.)


Students will then read myths and legends from the Native American tribes of the region they are researching. (Students will understand that through stories the Native Americans passed down wisdom, beliefs and values over time. Oral tradition)


The students will then be asked to break into groups of two and write their own legend.  They must use the elements of story as discussed at the beginning of the lesson, and their legend must depict some aspect of life and similarity to the legends told by the Native American tribe they are studying.


Students will use the 6 trait writing process to refine their stories.


Students will each present their story to the class. 




Students will be evaluated on the written legend, using the 6 trait-writing rubric.

Students will be evaluated using the storytelling evaluation criteria.