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Using the online Comic “Rabbit and Bear Paws” to teach about storytelling in the Aboriginal Community

Section One: Project/Lesson Overview
Grade: 1
You and Your World
Lesson Title:
Rabbit and Bear Paws: Storytelling in the Aboriginal Community
Lesson Description: Students will read a portion of an illustrated story and an all text story featuring the oral storytelling tradition in order to gain an understanding of the tradition.
Time Required: One class

Specific Curriculum Outcomes:  

Social Studies (You and Your World in Atlantic Canada ) – outcomes from Y and YW Curric. guide

Oral traditions - Storytelling

Students will be expected to recognize that Aboriginal peoples' relationship with place has changed over time

Elaborations: • recognize that there are Aboriginal peoples • compare where Aboriginal peoples live today with where they lived in the past • give examples of past and present interactions between Aboriginal peoples and place

Section Two: Project/Lesson Implementation

Equipment/Materials Required : Computer lab or a computer and a computer projector or both. http://www.rabbitandbearpaws.com/index.php?p=1 ; a copy for each student or an overhead of The Granddaughter who was Eaten by a Big Fish (pdf download HERE)

Lesson Procedures/Teaching Strategies:

Aboriginal peoples have inhabited Atlantic Canada since time immemorial. The four traditional Aboriginal groups include the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Inuit, and Innu peoples. Each developed a distinct relationship with place including the land, water, resources, and climate. Help children develop an awareness of and an appreciation for Aboriginal communities in the Atlantic region. Students will learn that the relationship Aboriginal peoples have with place has changed over time. 

It is important that the learning experiences avoid becoming a stereotypical study of early Aboriginal peoples. The goal is for students to realize that Aboriginal communities, like all communities, have evolved over time.

(From page 102 - You and Your World Curriculum Kindergarten - Grade 2 – New Brunswick Department of Education)

1. The teacher will bring the students to the computer lab or set up a computer projector (In-Focus machine - the projector set up in the lab with the students at their own computers works well).

2. The students will read pages 14-17 at rabbitandbearpaws.com/archives.html .

3. The teacher will explain how the oral story telling was and is very important to the Aboriginal people.

The teacher may use a version of this to explain the importance of storytelling:

First Nations societies regularly tell stories — about adventures, ancestors, or different aspects of the land. Through stories and songs, First Nations keep their history alive and pass it on to subsequent generations.

First Nations storytelling has always been a communal experience. Stories brought people together to share a past, to explain the seemingly inexplicable in creation or to instruct. A powerful story might also make children see the consequences their actions might have.

All Aboriginal people use stories for entertainment, recording history and education. As a teaching

tool, stories are a valuable way to educate young people about the values and beliefs that First

Nations consider important for their members. Teaching stories fall into different categories. Some are similar to fables, with explicit morals. Another popular kind of teaching story is the open-ended story. Here the lesson is subtle, possibly even obscure, and is left to the students or listeners to discover. The discovery story educates listeners gradually. The goals or morals of the story reveal themselves to the listener, as his or her maturity and life experiences develop.

From: The Learning Circle : Classroom Activities on First Nations in Canada — ages 4 to 7
Published under the authority of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development - Ottawa , 2000

4. Students and teacher will then read the story The Granddaughter who was Eaten by a Big Fish (pdf download HERE)

Activities: The teacher will get students into a circle and discuss what the point of the two stories was. What was learned?

Additional Activities

5. If possible, have an elder from a local First Nations Community conduct a story telling session.

Suggested Assessment Strategies:

Involve students in a “talking circle” in which they retell stories to reflect the importance of oral tradition to the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet

Section Three: Project/Lesson Resources

Teacher Generated Resources: All of the teacher generated resources contributed to support this lesson are available for download by clicking on the link(s) below:

Supplementary Resources:

Web-Based Resources: http://www.rabbitandbearpaws.com/index.php?p=1;
The Granddaughter who was Eaten by a Big Fish PDF

Disclaimer: The recommended web-resources included here have been scrutinized for their grade and age appropriateness; however, contents on links on the Internet change continuously. It is advisable that teachers preview all links before recommending them to students.

Section Four: Additional Information

Additional Comments: Can be adapted to go along with a Language Arts Fables unit. If you have one or two aboriginal student in the class, do not single them out or use them as “experts”. But you may want to contact their parents to see if they or the grand parents would like to be a part of this lesson – for instance, invite them to sit in on the story telling session with the invited elder.

Credits: Special Thanks to Chad Solomon, creator of Rabbit and Bear Paws

Lesson by Scott Tingley

Any questions or comments, contact me at comicsintheclassroom @ gmail.com


Contents on links on the Internet change continuously. It is advisable that teachers and parents preview all links before recommending them to children.

The prior copyright notice was in error. The correct copyright notification is Comics in the Classroom, (C) Scott Tingley 2007 All rights reserved.

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