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English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Learning task 1: Introduction

A myth is a story made up to explain something that people believe (such as how the earth was made) or something in nature (such as thunder or lightning). Some of the most famous myths are Greek, Roman and Norse. They often deal with gods and godessess worshipped by the ancient people from these lands. Myths have complicated language or elaborate plots and rich language. They have become such a part of our heritage that even today we speak of Herculean strength (from Hercules, a Greek hero), the beauty of Venus (from Venus, the Roman Goddess of beauty) and Cupid as a symbol of love (from Cupid, the Roman god of love).

Legends are stories about the extraordinary deeds that real people or story characters (who might have been real people) are supposed to have performed. They are part of traditional literature which is the group of stories and poems that parents have told their children for centuries. There are legends about saints, like Saint Patrick, who was supposed to have chased all the snakes out of Ireland. There are legends about Robin Hood and his Merry Men and King Arthur and his Knights, who may or may not have been real people. You will also hear people speak of the legendary deeds of the bushranger Ned Kelly, or sporting heroes such as Donald Bradman.

  •  Encourage students to read and reread, both at a home and at school and to share their favourites in an oral language story-telling situation.
  •  Students will throughout the unit record the myths/legends they have read on a Reading Log. Teacher will model, following the reading of "Cry Baby Moon", how to complete and use the Retrieval Chart. Students will record, plot, characters, settings, themes, on the retrieval chart at the end of the unit. Students will use information from their reading log to complete the retrieval chart.

Focus Questions - The structure of a myth/legend:

 * What would have been the original form of these myths?
 * Why would the authors have wished to record these myths in written form?
 * What were the myths trying to explain?
 * What did the authors need to know to be able to record these myths?
 * Use the guiding questions below to help the students compare myths/legends.

Guiding questions
Discuss the origin of myths:
 * myths began with primitive humans
 * myths were used to explain the origin of things
 * myths often included gods to explain the creation of things
 * myths explained natural phenomena
 * Where could this story have taken place?
 * What was this story trying to explain?
 * How could this story have originated? Why do you think this?

Discuss illustrations. Explore the language that is used to explain/describe.

Discuss - What are the similarities and differences between (for example) Maori/Greek myths and legends based on a particular theme - "How the stars got in the sky".

Build up and develop throughout the unit a comparison chart (Venn diagram) of myths and legends from around the world.

Published on: 06 Apr 2009