Source: Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks: "The Salmon of Knowledge"
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This video segment from Jakers features a storyteller who tells a Pourquoi story about a spider. Pourquoi is the French word for "why". Pourquoi stories try to explain in an entertaining way why something happens or why things are the way they are, especially in nature. This lively story is about Anansi the Spider, a popular character in African folklore. We hear an imaginary tale that tries to explain why the lowest part of a spider's body is so big. Could it really be because of the plan the greedy spider Anansi came up with to eat two feasts in one day?
The following Frame, Focus and Follow-up suggestions are best suited for elementary school students using this video in an English language arts, social studies or science lesson. Be sure to modify the questions to meet your students' instructional needs.
What is Frame, Focus and Follow-up?
Frame (ELA) What stories do you already know that explain why things are the way they are in nature? (Example: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale by Verna Aardema)
Focus (ELA) As you watch the video and listen to the story, think about how this story fits the characteristics of a Pourquoi story.
Follow Up (ELA) Explain how this story fits the characteristics of a Pourquoi story. If you were to write a Pourquoi story, what would you like to explain in nature? Why? How would you explain it?
Frame (SS) What do you already know about different cultures? For example, how can stories be part of a country’s culture?
Focus (SS) Anansi is a character in African folklore. As you listen to the storyteller, listen for clues about the African culture that created this story.
Follow Up (SS) How could you retell the story of Anansi to show how the spider would live in today’s world? Think about what is different between Anansi’s culture and your culture.
Frame (SCI) What do you know about spiders, especially how they look?
Focus (SCI) Listen to how the storyteller explains in words and actions the reason why spiders have big “butts.”
Follow Up (SCI) The storyteller talks about spiders’ big butts, but in science we call this part of the spider the abdomen. Sometimes people call our abdomens "bellies." Does the scientific name for this part of the spider contradict the storyteller’s tale? How could the story be changed to make it scientifically correct?
STORYTELLER: My name is Michael D. McCarty and I am a storyteller. And I’m going to tell you all some stories. There’s all kinds of stories. There’s legends and folktales and myths. I’m going to tell you a special kind of story called a pourquoi story. You know what a pourquoi story is? It’s a story that tells why something happens. And this is a story about a character that you might have heard something about. You ever heard of a character named Anasi the Spider? YES! Once, Anansi was in his home and one of the spies came. You see Anansi loves to eat. And there are feasts all over Africa. But nobody wants Anansi at their feast because he would eat up all the food. So he has spies that let him know when a feast is taking place. And one of the spies said, “Anansi, Anansi, tomorrow there’s going to be a feast at this village over there.” “What time will the feast begin?” he said. “Sometime tomorrow after the sun is highest in the sky.” And what time of day is the sun highest in the sky? Noontime. “Well, I’ll be there,” he said. But then a couple of hours later another one the spies came and said, “Anansi, Anansi, tomorrow there’s going to be a really big feast at this village over there.” “Oh great,” he said. “What time will that feast begin?” “Sometime tomorrow after the sun is highest in the sky.” Oh so now he had a problem, a dilemma, two feasts on the same day, both starting sometime after the sun is highest in the sky. He had to figure out a way to determine which feast was going to start first. Now this was a long time ago. There were no cell phones, no email, no regular phones, but Anansi was quick of wit and he came up with a plan. He called two of his sons. He tied a loop of rope around his really big belly. And gave the other end to one of his sons and said, “Now you go to that village over there, and when that feast starts you pull me and tug me and I’ll come and run.” Then he tied another loop of rope around his really big belly and gave the other end to his other son, who went to that other village. Oh boy, he’s going to have so much food. Two feasts in one day. And then all of a sudden, this son starts pulling and Anansi starts running towards him. But you know what happens, don’t you?
KIDS: The other son starts pulling.
STORYTELLER: And so Anansi’s getting pulled this way and that way. And this way and then that way. And then no way. And the rope around his belly is getting tighter and tighter and tighter. Well all of that belly had to go some place. Can you guess what part of his body that belly went to?
KIDS: His butt.
STORYTELLER: All of a sudden his belly went BOING, and Anasi had this really big butt. And to this day when you go to the library and you look up books of spiders you will see spiders with really big butts that they have inherited from Anansi. And that’s the end of that.
Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.