I am Raven

I Am RavenA great chief of the Pacific Northwest is creating his totem. The animals (beaver, bear, wolf, owl, eagle, frog, killer whale, otter, thunder, and raven) each present a quality that the chief might have that would lend itself to creating his totem.  Each tries to persuade him to include them.

Andy Everson, MTW Publisher, ©2007, 978-0-9784327-0-6

Build Your Own Totem

The entire book is built around the premise of finding the totem that symbolizes you. First, read the book to the students. At a second reading, as a listening skill, students can listen for those qualities each of the animals presents to the chief. The attached page includes a black line master for listening. After the discussion, ask students to use the little sketches to create a totem with 4 qualities that they would like to have.

The back of the book has a double-page spread with additional possible qualities including: hummingbird, duck, dragonfly, Canada goose, swan, loon, kingfisher, beetle, moon, and sun. Students might want to think about these qualities as well…although it makes the project even more complicated.

If You’re Not From BC

David Bouchard once was a principal in North Vancouver, BC. Since becoming an author and discovering his roots as an aboriginal, he has become one of the most evocative writers in the field. Author of over 50 books, he is a recipient of the Order of Canada.

My favourite from Dave Bouchard is If You’re Not From the Prairie… which is a lyrical praise of growing up in the prairies:

  • The sun is our friend from when we are young
  • If you’re not from the prairies, you don’t know the sun.

A good assignment might be for students to write an “If You’re Not from BC…” book.

For 4 creative writing ideas, click I am Raven to download.

Advertisements

Blue Willow

bluewillowThe legend behind the Blue Willow is the story of a girl who falls in love with a poor fisherman. Her father places obstacles in their path. First he says to wait until the fall, then until he finds money in the street then when a rainbow appears over the pavilion. Finally the daughter dies while  looking for her lover at sea during a storm. When her fisherman lover discovers her death, he cries out in anguish and is killed by the villages mistaking him for a screaming tiger. The rainbow and dove appear over the daughter’s pavilion. The father commissions the plate in memory of the two lovers.

Pam Conrad, ©1999, Philomel Books, ISBN 0-399-22904-3

The Common Elements of a Blue Willow Plate

Give students the black line master from the PDF of lesson ideas, and ask them to use those pictures to identify the common elements in all Blue Willow plates. Whatever the stories behind the Blue Willow  plate are, and there are several of them, the common elements are: a rainbow around the outside, a fishing boat, a pavilion, a small bridge with villagers on it, two dives flying, a house, and a tree.

The Story of the Blue Willow Plate

Before you read the book to the students, and after they have identified the common elements of the story, ask them to create a story, set in China that includes those elements. (You could give them small pictures of the elements to include in their story as illustrations.)

When they have their own stories, read them the book. Blue Willow is a very “tragic” tale of true love and the relationship between a father and daughter. It is a kind of Chinese Romeo and Juliet—of course,  you would then have to tell them the story of Romeo and Juliet. Maybe they could even construct a Venn Diagram comparing the two stories.

For 6 writing ideas, click Blue Willow to download.