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Folk tales expand comfort zone

May 28, 2010|By LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

How many spots does Leopard have?

This question is pondered in Julian Lester's African tale about the absurdity of pride. Leopard admires his spots and wonders how many he has.

"I would very much like to know how many spots I have. But there are far too many for me to count myself."

As the story unfolds, it becomes evident that Leopard can't count. He asks the other animals to count his spots for him, but none of them can count very high. As they count, they try to decide what they should do about spots that are touching each other. Should those count as one or two spots?

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At times, the animals become distracted by the beauty of Leopard's spots. As they pause in admiration, they lose their place on Leopard's hide.

"My, my. I don't know where I left off counting," Bear admits. "I must start again."

When Rabbit comes on the scene, he offers a solution.

"It's simple," he said. "Leopard has only two spots - dark ones and lights ones."

That response suits all of the animals, except for Leopard. He isn't too sure about that. It doesn't seem like a correct answer, but since he doesn't know how to count, he can't dispute it.

What an interesting lesson in thinking too intensely about oneself. Leopard was put in his place simply because he didn't have ability, even though he thought he was "all that." If that's not a humbling experience, what would be?

In my eleventh grade English class, we have been winding down the school year with a fun project - writing folk tales.

The students seem to enjoy working on this project and sharing their work with others.

It's good for them to practice a form of writing that is outside of their comfort zone. For most teens, it has been years since they've read a folk tale - or had folk tales read to them.

To get them started, we talked about making a folk tale both entertaining and enlightening. The story should be woven around a specific principle, or character trait, that is presented throughout.

The main character should exhibit the traits of one who needs to learn the principle or one who already demonstrates it.

The character will be presented with a problem which may seem easy to solve, until an obstacle is introduced. After the obstacle is encountered, a change needs to take place. The story ends with a solution, typically tales of how the lesson was learned.

It's a fun task to undertake, and with summer right around the corner, why not try your hand at it?

Take out a pad and pencil and write a tale as you observe nature.

Because so many creatures seem to have their own personalities, it can be amusing to personify animals. Just think of the people you know. What kind of animals do they remind you of?

One of my students included a grizzly bear named Mrs. Prejean in his tale. Ha, ha.

How many spots does Leopard have?

This question is pondered in Julian Lester's African tale about the absurdity of pride. Leopard admires his spots and wonders how many he has.

"I would very much like to know how many spots I have. But there are far too many for me to count myself."

As the story unfolds, it becomes evident that Leopard can't count. He asks the other animals to count his spots for him, but none of them can count very high. As they count, they try to decide what they should do about spots that are touching each other. Should those count as one or two spots?

At times, the animals become distracted by the beauty of Leopard's spots. As they pause in admiration, they lose their place on Leopard's hide.

"My, my. I don't know where I left off counting," Bear admits. "I must start again."

When Rabbit comes on the scene, he offers a solution.

"It's simple," he said. "Leopard has only two spots - dark ones and lights ones."

That response suits all of the animals, except for Leopard. He isn't too sure about that. It doesn't seem like a correct answer, but since he doesn't know how to count, he can't dispute it.

What an interesting lesson in thinking too intensely about oneself. Leopard was put in his place simply because he didn't have ability, even though he thought he was "all that." If that's not a humbling experience, what would be?

In my eleventh grade English class, we have been winding down the school year with a fun project - writing folk tales.

The students seem to enjoy working on this project and sharing their work with others.

It's good for them to practice a form of writing that is outside of their comfort zone. For most teens, it has been years since they've read a folk tale - or had folk tales read to them.

To get them started, we talked about making a folk tale both entertaining and enlightening. The story should be woven around a specific principle, or character trait, that is presented throughout.

The main character should exhibit the traits of one who needs to learn the principle or one who already demonstrates it.

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