for 3rd Grade Language Arts
do rabbits have short tails? Why do porcupines have quills?
Why do we have day and night? These and many, many other
questions about our world can be answered in pourquoi tales.
"Pourquoi" is the French word for "why?" They are stories that
were used to explain things found in nature, especially long ago before
science was able to tell us the things we know today.
heard the Legends of the Indian Paintbrush and Bluebonnet. Now it
is time for you to explore some more pourquois. Since we are also going to be
exploring the Native Americans of Michigan, we are going to be looking
mostly at Native American pourquois.
Even though science can
explain many things today, pourquoi stories are still very
popular. Why do we like pourquoi stories? And what makes a
have been passed down through generations of story tellers over many,
many years. But they had to start somewhere. Maybe you will start the next pourquoi. After you become a pourquoi expert, you will be writing and telling your own!
Once you have perfected your tales, we will publish them in a class book and have an oral story telling party.
- Become a Pourquoi Expert:
Before you can write your own pourquoi, you'll need to know what makes
a good one. Start by listening to story teller Gregg Howard tell
the story of rabbit's tail.
How does the story start?
What does the story explain?
How does the story end?
Storyteller Gregg Howard
Now visit Native American Pourquoi Tales
to read a few more pourquoi stories.
How do these stories start and end?
What do they explain?
What is the same in all of these stories?
What about these stories do you like?
What makes them good stories?
Think about nature - animals, plants, waters, lands, Earth, skies,
weather. Why is something the way it is? What do you wonder
- Dream Up an Answer:
Think about the stories you heard and read about. Look at your
answers from question 1. Imagine you live long ago with the
Native Americans. Forget what you know about science and
technology. What is a possible explanation for your question?
Plan your story in a way that works best for you. You could make
a list of things you want to include. You could begin with an
illustration. You could make a story map. Or you might just
want to skip right to step number 5 if that works better for you.
All writers plan and write differently.
- Draft Your Pourquoi:
Begin writing your story. Don't worry about getting it all
right. We will be doing lots of revising and editing until we get
it just right. Let your imagination and the pictures in your mind
do the writing for your draft.
Think about the questions and your answers from question 1 again.
Reread your story. Does your story begin like a traditional
pourquoi? Does your story explain something in nature? What
does it explain? Does your story end like a traditional
pourquoi? Do you need more details? Are there any details
that you don't need in the story? What makes your story
- Peer Edit:
Read your story to a partner. Get feedback and suggestions from
your partner. What don't they understand? What do they
like? What could help the story? Listen to your partner's
story. Give him/her the same feedback and suggestions. Be
honest, but respectful and helpful. Give specific feedback and reasons.
- Revise Again:
Think about your partner's suggestions and feedback. What changes
do you want to make? You are the writer and the choice is
yours. You may make some, all, or none of the changes your
partner suggested. What will make your story the best it can be?
Did you use capital letters and proper punctuation? Do you have
complete sentences? Do you like the words you used? Are
there synonyms you could use to make the words more interesting?
After you have edited, trade with a partner and edit each other's for
one last check of spelling and mechanics.
- Final Draft: Use the computers to type your story in Microsoft Word. I will print them all for publishing.
Illustrate your story. You may have already done this in step
4. Maybe you want to add onto it. Maybe you want to change
it now that your story is written.
Watch and listen to Mr. Howard tell the story of rabbit again.
What does he do when he is telling the story? What doesn't he
do? What do you like about how he tells the story? Practice telling your own story for our sharing party.
work will be graded on the items listed in the following
rubric. Use the rubric to help you do your best work.
|Grading Rubric 15 Total Points Possible
Pourquoi contains traditional beginning and ending
Story has a beginning and end, but not the type that are found in pourquois.
Story has either a clear beginning or end, usually found in a pourquoi.
Story has both a beginning and end that is traditionally found in pourquois.
|Pourquoi contains an explanation
|Story has a plot, but the plot and ending do not explain anything.
|Story's plot and ending explain something, but not something found in nature.
|Story's plot and ending give an explanation of something found in nature.
Uses effective writing techniques to tell the story
|Story is understandable.
|Story develops characters and events are in a logical order.
characters; includes dialogue, descriptions of feelings, actions, or
thoughts; and events are in a logical order.
|Story is grammatically correct
understandable as written, but contains 4 or more spelling and grammar
errors that have been discussed in class grades 1-3.
|Story contains 2 or 3 spelling or grammar errors that have been discussed in class grades 1-3.
|Story contains 0-1 spelling or grammar errors that have been discussed in class grades 1-3.
|Reads or tells story clearly
|Story is understandable; does not use voice or body to help tell the story.
|Speaks clearly at an understandable pace for most of the story; sometimes uses voice and body to help tell the story.
|Speaks clearly at an understandable pace; uses voice and body throughout to help tell the story.
Wow! Not only have
you heard and read some interesting Native American pourquois, you
created and told your own! You used the writing process to work
through your story and create a final product that we could all share
with each other.
Pourquoi stories have been told by all kinds of people.
They are especially popular in the Native American tradition.
After hearing some traditional tales of Native Americans, how might you
describe and explain some of their beliefs?
- The Legend of the Bluebonnet retold by Tomie dePaola
- The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush retold by Tomie dePaola
updated on January 26, 2014.