Hook Them With Story

"When we’re teaching about the natural science that we love, I think we often deluge our students with answers to questions that they have not asked. Why should they care? Why do they need to know all this stuff that they’ve maybe never thought about before?

"I find that a good way to get them thinking is to tell a lively story from folk tradition. The story won’t offer a scientific explanation, but it does have amazing power to make students listen, pay attention, remember, and wonder. Once we have caught their interest and invited them to wonder “How does that work?" we can start talking science.

"A story is a “hook” on which we can hang a lesson. And I recommend traditional folktales (398.2 in your library) because they fall naturally on listeners’ ears and are easy for us to learn. Our ancestors long ago dropped out the uninteresting or difficult parts! My "EarthTeller Tales" column offers stories that I hope you can use." --  Fran Stallings

Fran's EarthTeller Tales columns use a folktale to introduce an ecological lesson. They first appeared in The Environmentor a free e-newsletter for environmental educators, published by Oklahoma City University. Editor Beth Landon always finds wonderful graphics to illustrate Fran's columns! Here is the plain text. To see Beth's illustrated version, click the link in each article and scroll to the indicated pages. Enjoy the rest of each newsletter too. Excellent material!

Title Folk Tale Title Fact Tale Title
Goats as Brush Hogs Three Silly Goats Gruff Goats for Brush Control
How Hot Was It? How hot is it? Climate Change comes to our Backyards
Fireflies A Silly Folktale Bioluminescence
Drought Frog and Rain Water is Life
From the Ashes Phoenixes Prairie fires
Love the Weeds Love the Weeds Weeds to the Rescue!
Honey and Honeysuckle A Drop of Honey Honeysuckle, Deer, and Disease
Sunflowers Why do sunflowers follow the sun? Heliotropism
Soup of the Soup The Soup of the Soup Nutrient Dilution
False Signals Crying Wolf Of Wolves and Dormant Fruit Trees
Little things help How can such a little thing help me? Don't Underestimate Them
Survival by the Numbers How Many Offspring? Survival by the numbers
King Solomon and the Bee King Solomon and the Bee Pollinators
Moths and Light Why Moths Rule the Night Dangers of Night Lighting
Alligators -- in Oklahoma??? Counting Alligators Alligators in Oklahoma?
One House, or Two? The Disappearance of the Giants Rotting Fruit and Pollen Allergies
How the Birds Got Their Colors How birds got their colorful feathers Winter birdwatching
What About Nativars? - Cultivars of native plants
Coyote and the Powerful Berries Coyote and the Powerful Berries How Plants Spread Seed
Where butterflies come from Lonely Flowers Host and Nectar Plants
Fighting fire - and Fear Brave Little Parrot Look for the Helpers
Why spiders are bald How Spiders Got Bald Tarantulas
Eew, Gross -- but Amazing Protect our Troops: Save the Beetles Antibiotic Beetle Juice
Plastic Pollution Rustle and Shelley There is no "away"
Cricket, Earthworm, and Snake Cricket, Earthworm, and Snake Crickets and Hearing Aids
Tornado Eggs Pecos Bill and the Tornado Eggs Great Salt Plains Selenite Crystals
Golden Eggs The Goose that Laid Golden Eggs Pasture Erosion
Some Tails Come Off! The Tale of the Lizards' Tales Caudal Autonomy & Regeneration
Vampire Plants The Headley Kow Dodder
Prickly Pear Huitzilopochtli and Tenochtitlán Nopal
The Frogs' Advice The Frogs' Advice swamps, amphibians, Chytrid
Cottontail Rabbits and Cottonwood Trees How Rabbits got their Short Tails Facts about Cottonwoods
Mistletoe Oklahoma's Floral Emblem Hemi-Parasite
Playing Dead: Foxes and Winter Trees Tricky Fox Plays Dead Dormant Trees
Buzzards and Gas Leaks Monkey and Buzzard Turkey vultures and gas leaks
Solar eclipses Mink and Sun Solar eclipses
What's Useless? Useless Gift Milkweeds and Monarchs
Bats, Taxes, and Bananas Bats and Taxes White-Nose Syndrome
Winter Sleep Why Bear Sleeps All Winter Torpor vs Hibernation
Repentant Ferret The Repentant Ferret Prairie Dogs, Ferrets, and... M&Ms?
Day and Night Day and Night Earth's Axial Tilt
Bison bison Bison's Race with Mustang Return of US National Mammal
Making the best of a hard situation The Turnip Sundews
Be Careful What You Wish For Be Careful What You Wish For Callery pear trees
Geckos and Mosquitos Geckos and Mosquitos Standing Water and Disease
The Camel and the Green Menace The Camel's Nose The Green Menace
Caterpillars The Giant Caterpillar entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian
Spotless Lotus Lotus and Waterlily Non-stick Biomimicry
Beautiful Opossum Beautiful Opossum Opossums
Ananda Recycles Ananda's gift Recycling
Acorns, Pumpkins, Osage orange Pumpkins Don't Grow on Trees Osage Orange
Daffodils The Dance of Yellow Star Daffodils
Working Cats Why Cats Hunt Mice Putting Feral Cats to Work
It Seemed Like A Good Idea At the Time The Wonderful Water Plant Kudzu -- the plant that covered the South
Nest Building A Lesson in Nest Building Nesting Habits
Migration Flying Turtle Why Animals Migrate
Cicada's Love Song Señor Coyote and Señor Chichara Cicadas
Wind Glooscap and the Wind Eagle Solutions and Other Problems
Dandelions Shawondasee and the Golden Girl Dandelion Facts
Evergreens Why Some Plants Became Evergreen How a native evergreen became a menace
Resource Depletion Why the Sky is Far Away The Party's Over
Birds and Beavers How Beaver Stole Fire The Birds and the Beavers
Small Changes, Big Results The Pudding that Stopped the Preaching Nail Broth/Stone Soup
Story from the EarthTeller, December 2003 What else can I eat? The Good, the Bad, and the Grizzlies
Frogs Everything is Connected Frogs, Locusts, and Ducks
King Midas and the Chickens King Midas Too Much Manure