Freshman B: what is a folk tale (and how is folklore different from mythology?)

After yesterday’s class on mythology, today we looked at folk tales.

First we looked at the following two quotes and journaled to the following question:

The folktale “tends to absorb something of the place where it is narrated – a landscape, a custom, a moral outlook, or else merely a very faint accent or flavor of that locality.”
-Italo Calvino

“Folktales from the oral tradition carry with them the thumbprints of history. Each place, each culture, each teller leaves a mark.”
-Jane Yolen Favorite Folktales From Around the World

Based on these quotes, what can you infer (guess) about folktales? How do folktales (also known as “folklore”) differ from myths or mythology? Can you identify any famous American folktales or folk heroes?

In groups we read two stories (like this one) while we filled this out:

What do you notice about…
-The Characters:
-The setting (the time and place where the action happens):
-Is there a moral to the story?
-Does this story remind you of another one?
-Anything else you noticed?

This was turned in to Mr. Shulkin/Ms. Gummoe.

We finished class talking about how these folktales represented the culture they originated from and why some cultures have very similar folk tales or folk heroes.

Your summer reading was also due today.

2 thoughts on “Freshman B: what is a folk tale (and how is folklore different from mythology?)

  1. A Charaid – What a fascinating piece. It must be presumed that this blog is written by an educator, no? For a number of years I have been a Seanachaí, a teller of traditional Gaelic stories on the western isles of Scotland. It is not exactly English Literature, but then it ought not to be. I am wondering if you know, or indeed teach, anything of the Scots and Irish auld tales?
    Is mise le meas, Mìcheal.


  2. Hi Michael,
    Yes, I’ve just started running this blog as a resource for my students. If they miss class, or forget to bring home homework or need to be reminded what we did on a certain day, they know they can just check here. It’s also been useful for me to post resources so a mass of students can see it (as I’ve done with some of the comic book stuff).
    I’ve spent a few summers in Scotland but I haven’t put any Scottish or Irish folktales in my rotation. Have any good recommendations for me/a 9th grade classroom?


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