Source: Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks: "Good Neighbor"
Funding for the VITAL/Ready to Teach collection was secured through the United States Department of Education under the Ready to Teach Program.
This video clip from Jakers features a storyteller telling a Native American folktale. The storyteller uses music and movements as she shares a cultural story that was handed down from generation to generation. This story is about a sweet girl named Shulayen who is born with spots, or freckles, on her face. She grows to be a tender spirit, the storyteller tells us. When a young boy makes fun of Shulayen’s spots, her grandmother helps her realize that she should not be ashamed of the spots. The spots make her special. We learn that we are all special in our own way, and we all have a special reason for being born.
Native Americans, folktales, literature
The following Frame, Focus and Follow-up suggestions are best suited for elementary school students using this video in an English language arts or social studies lesson. Be sure to modify the questions to meet your students' instructional needs.
What is Frame, Focus and Follow-up?
Frame (ELA) Think about a time when someone told you a story or read to you. What was that experience like?
Focus (ELA) As you watch the video and listen to the story, think about what it means to be an interesting storyteller telling a cultural story. Does the storyteller keep her listeners fascinated by the story of Shulayen? How do you know? Observe what she does with her body, the instrument and her voice.
Follow Up (ELA) If you were the storyteller, what would be your purpose for telling this story about Shulayen? How would you be sure you reached your purpose? For example, what would you do during the storytelling? What would you want your listeners to do?
Frame (SS) What do you already know about the Native American culture? For example, how are stories and music part of their culture?
Focus (SS) Shulayen is a character in Native American folklore. As you listen to the storyteller, listen for clues about the Native American culture that created this story. For example, what language or vocabulary is used that reflects the Native American culture?
Follow Up (SS) How does the story of Shulayen connect with what it is like to grow up in your neighborhood or community? For example, are there “coyote spirits” in some girls and boys who you know? Explain your answer, and how you would respond to someone who spoke to you with a “coyote spirit.”
ALL: Hi, Piggley.
PIGGLEY: Hello, everyone, I hope I’m not late.
JACKIE: Not at all, Piggley, you’re just on time. Hi boys and girls, my name is Jackie Nunez and I am a California Indian and I’m here to tell you a story. Do you know that stories come from many places; from real life, from imagination and from passing them down from generation to generation. Many cultures have handed down stories for hundreds of years and today, I’m going to tell you a story that my grandmother told me and her grandmother told her. This sweet little song was sung by Shulayen that was her Indian name because she had spots all over her face. Oh, you’d probably call them freckles, but a long time ago, we said that they were just spots on her face. Her mother said that they looked like stars and when she would look at night and see those stars and she looked at her baby and she said, “Many stars, many stars.” Shulayen loved o sing and when she sang the animals would come close to her. Why the rabbits were at her feet. The little field mice were listening and the deer would come and you know what? Even the dragonfly would land on her shoulder. Do you know that the dragonfly only lands on those with a tender spirit? Something happened one day that was really terrible in the tribe. A little boy with a coyote spirit, oh he got a stick, put some mud on it and he played a trick on poor Shulayen. He put dots all over his face and danced around. When she saw him do that, her little heart was broken and she ran down to the river where her grandmothers were collecting plants for basket weaving.
“Oh why grandmother, do I have spots on my face?”
Her grandmother held her and told her, “Oh Shulayen, you are special. You are marked in a special way. Look at these leaves, one is marked with spots and the other is plain. Which one do you notice?”
“The one with the spots?”
“Yes, they are marked and put on earth for a special reason, just like you. You are special. Stand up, sing and know that you are different for a reason.”
She did just that. She threw her hair back and she sang louder than she’d ever sung before. Just then, the dragonfly came around and it landed on her shoulder, and the rabbits and the deer, why the whole world knew that Shulayen was special. Now I’m going to say “ho” and you’re going to say “hey”, that means the end. Ho!
JACKIE: Good, see you learned a story today; a story that was passed down from generation to generation. Many cultures all over the world have been telling stories, but I want you to remember this, that all of you are special. You come from a special culture too.
PIGGLEY: I love telling stories. Try it! You might just love it as much as I do.
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