Anthropomorphism Day 2: Myth, Morality and Origin

Anansi by Gerald McDermottAnansi by Gerard McDermott

This 90 minute lesson is the second day of the Intro to Anthropomorphism Unit. It covers the Coyote Myths, Anasi Myths, and the ways in which myth use anthropomorphism to reach deeper truths about human nature.


Students will be able to compare/contrast anthropomorphism between fable, myth and literature.


Required materials are normal text, recommended but not required materials are italicized

Essential Question(s):

How does anthropomorphism allow stories to get at bigger themes?

Inquiry Exercise:

(10 Minutes)
Yesterday, we looked at fables and defined anthropomorphism and allegory. Today, we’ll be hearing two stories from different cultures and taking a closer look at cultural myths and how humans are represented by animals.

Today’s journal entry is a creative piece: You’re walking along and your eyes meet those of an animal. Staring at it, you feel this deep connection in a tense moment. Suddenly, it breaks and disappears, leaving you with this incredible sense of connection. What sort of animal was it? How did the connection feel? About what and why did you feel such a deep connection?

Introduction to New Material:

(15 Minutes)
Every culture has incredible tales involving supernatural creatures and gods in human or animal form. Today, we’ve invited a professional storyteller, one who’s well versed in the African tales of Anansi, the spider and the Native American tales of Coyote of the Navajo. I could easily read these stories to you, but in order to treat the story and culture respectfully, I felt it was important to have an expert who can answer your questions.

Have the storyteller tell one Coyote tale and one Anansi tale. After each story, have a brief Q&A session with the storyteller as described in Guided Practice.

Guided Practice:

(15 Minutes)
For the remainder of today, we’ll be looking at these myths and trying to decipher why and how they work. Where does their meaning come from? To do so, we’re going to try to become experts just like our storyteller guest. Let’s turn to our expert and see what he has to say about the myth we just heard. Encourage students to ask some of the following questions:

  • Why was the story told like that?
  • Where does Anansi/Coyote come from?
  • Was the story inspired by true events?
  • What does the story tell us about the culture it comes from?
  • What do you think this myth is trying to tell us?
  • How does the story use anthropomorphism?

Today, we’re going to breaking into groups again and doing a jigsaw. For those of you who don’t remember or haven’t done a jigsaw before, each group will have a different Coyote or Anansi myth to read, think about and report on back to the group. In addition to a summary, I want you to think about what we discussed: fables, myth, allegory, anthropomorphism.

As we move forward and look at myths, consider our Q&As we just had and some of the answers you heard. You’ll want to be able to answer the same or similar questions about your myth.

Independent Practice:

(45 Minutes)
Groups will take 30-35 minutes reading their myth, discussing it, and getting ready to present. If the *STORYTELLER* wants to float around and assist, great. Key questions: What current event might you be able to relate this to? What about in the community or your life? Does it reflect something you feel in yourself?

As groups present, follow up with the question about how these myths are the same or different from the stories we looked at yesterday and the chapter of the Grapes of Wrath.


(10 Minutes)
Thank you for staying so focused. I hope you enjoyed our guest today. Seriously.

You should have heard me mention it yesterday, but we’ve finally gotten to our big project for the week: each of you will be writing a short story that draws a parallel to something important. We’ve looked at a bunch of myths and stories, discussed their historical and cultural implications, seen how allegory and anthropomorphism allows us to talk about things without directly accusing people. Tomorrow, we’ll have a chance to start working on our stories if you haven’t already. If you’d like to work with a friend, you can, but I expect a more in depth story and interview if you do.

On Friday, whether or not the story is done, we’ll be recording interviews. You’ll have the chance to interview a classmate about their story, record it, and have them explain how their story uses allegory and anthropomorphism to address their issue or event. Over the weekend, you will finish your story and record a reading of it, possibly with your classmates voicing different characters. Remember the recording will need to be a minimum of 2 minutes long per person.

Take this last section of time to hop on a chromebook and do a little research on an event you’d like to see reflected. Consider the different views and our discussion of respect from Monday in relation to the Uncle Remus story. When you have a topic or two you’re interested in, you can use this time to start writing or chat with me about how you’re going to do it. Tomorrow, I’ll show you my story and you may ask me about it so you have a better example, and we’ll have tomorrow to work on our stories, our questions, and prepare for friday’s recording session.

Continue to Anthropomorphism Day 3: Big Bad Wolf & Villainy
Return to Intro to Anthropomorphism Unit