Sunday, June 23, 2013

Totem Tale- A Native American Tall Tale {Social Studies Mentor Text}

We are here again to share another mentor text!  This week's subject is social studies.  As I've said before, my goal for next year is to do a lot of integration of science and social studies into language arts.  I am sharing a book today that is probably more of a language arts book, but I am going to share how I'm integrating it.

The book I am sharing is called Totem Tale by Deb Vanasse.

We teach about different Native American tribes in our curriculum.  One of the tribe's characteristics is that they had totem poles.  Since we also teach different genres in language arts, this is the perfect opportunity to integrate!

Here is the book description from Amazon:
"On a full-moon night in Alaska, a traditional native totem pole magically comes to life. The Grizzly, Beaver, Frog, and Raven all stretch and scratch and voice their relief at being free at last. But then the first dawn light appears on the horizon, and the totems have to reassemble themselves in the proper order before morning. Who should be on top of whom? Can wise Raven reason with these contentious creatures? Deb Vanasse’s enchanting text and Erik Brooks’s lively illustrations make this a memorable modern folktale."

Here are a few of the pages from the book:

I love when you get to turn the book sideways!!  :O)

Anyway...this book is adorable!  I love the language in it and the illustrations are so fun!  There are great verbs and onomatopoeia in this book!  And, because I think it's so great, I'm sharing this vivid verb and onomatopoeia scavenger hunt with you in case you want to hunt for verbs and onomatopoeia with your class too!

Ok, so how am I integrating this into social studies.

Well, I wish I had pictures.  Last year, I had students make their own totem poles.  Here's how it went:

I gave them a list of animals and what they symbolized (it came from this website HERE).

I sent home a letter explaining the activity.  It looked like this:

The students went home and chose a symbol for each family member.  Most of them just highlighted on the sheet with the examples and wrote the name of the family member next to it.

Then, we went to the computer lab and they used clipart to make the animals and they typed the names of their family members and the description.

They colored them and then attached those to the paper towel rolls.  They kept them on their desks for a while.  They did a writing piece about their family and why they chose those symbols for each member.  Then, they took them home.  :O)  (I wish I had pictures but that was before we started blogging.)

Totem poles tell a story.  For each tribe, it may be for a different purpose, but this was how we applied it in our classroom.

So, it's not a huge integration, but I just wanted to make the Native American unit fun!  :O)

Now, it's your turn!

(If you have never linked up before you can check HERE for more information.)

For the Linky- Please make yourself a SANDWICH!  Please comment on the person who linked up before you and the person that linked up after you.  I know everyone puts in a lot of time and effort to these posts and I want everyone to feel the love!!!  (Haha, see, you're a know...because you are in the middle of the you get it?)  ;O)

There are 5 Sundays in this month so....Next week's topic- Back to School Mentor Texts


  1. This looks like such a cute book. I love the illustrations. We study the regions of the US and I always feel that I don't cover Alaska and Hawaii enough-this will be a great mentor text for me to use. Thanks!

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  2. This is a great activity! I love that you are teaching vivid verbs and onomatopoeia using a book that you could use in SS as well. I chose a different book and different lessons but we both posted about ELA/SS integration. :) I see a Common(Core)theme that will be happening a lot with our mentor text posts! :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  3. I can't wait to check out this book! Those Northwest Natives always seem to be hard to find resources on!
    ideas by jivey
    Follow me on Facebook!

  4. What a great activity! I bet the kids love it! I love incorporating language arts with social studies-they go hand in hand and a great opportunity for teachers to cover multiple standards. Thanks for hosting!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  5. This looks like a gorgeous book! I'm always looking for great picture books to use in my fifth grade social studies classes. Pinning for sure!

    Fifth in the Middle

  6. I love the look of this book! So many great uses. I really like your totem pole idea. Thanks for the freebie. So many treats in this post. Thanks for hosting!

  7. This book looks so good! We briefly touch on Native Americans and I think this project would be fun. Thanks for sharing your cool ideas!
    Beach Sand and Lesson Plans

  8. I have never seen this one! Thanks so much for the suggestion--adding to my list...

    Have a great week,
    Sarah @ Hoots N Hollers

  9. It's always so interesting to me to see what you guys teach in Social Studies...seems like a world away from the simple stuff first and second graders are learning in that subject area. Anyways, looks like a beautiful book. I love how the verbs stand out on the pages.

    Literacy Spark

    1. I forgot to put the picture of the you know if I can edit that?


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