Background: The 800-year-old Nigerian folktale retold by Mary-Joan Gerson in Why the Sky is Far Away has an environment theme relevant to today, i.e., there will be dire consequences if people continue ro greedily waste natural resources. This story does not feature any specific star or solar system body, but is about the sky as a whole from the perspective of a culture in a different time as well as a different place.
Objectives: The students will learn about an African folktale and will realte the lessons learned by the characters to out own world and time.
1. Attached is a summary of the story Why the Sky is Far Away. Ideas for simple feltboard pieces are included. The teacher can provide the pieces or have the students make them.
2. Use a large feltboard or large piece of felt on a bulliten board for the background. Blue is the most appropriate color, since the story is about a sky which was near enough to Earth to be touched by people.
3. Share the story with the students, as appropriate. We have used two methods in our inservice workshops: (a) Allow students to choose several felt pieces. As you tell the story, prompt the students with the squares and triangles to place the "houses" on the board, the student with the large yellow circle to place the sun in the sky, the white clouds in the sky, etc. (b) Construct the scenes prior to telling or reading the story, allowing students to receive their felt pieces and directions from the teacher.
4. Option: Tell or read the story, then allow the students to make the felt pieces and assemble the scenes on the feltboard.
5. The science portion of this activity could be one of several options, i.e., beginning a space unit by studying our own sky (atmosphere, for older students); part of an environment lesson (saving resources); a lead-in to a weather or atmospheres unit.
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