There are many books related to Native Americans of the Southwest that can help students better visualize and understand the people, their history, and their present. Some short picture books can be used as a whole class read-alouds, where other longer books can be used as longer novel studies. In this activity, students will create a plot summary of one of these books or stories.
The story used in this example is
Coyote: a Trickster Tale from the American Southwest by Gerald McDermott. It is a great example of the classic folktales involving trickster animals and a moral that are popular in Native American culture.
Here are some additional suggestions for literature that relates to the Indigenous People of the Southwest:
Code Talker by famed Native American author Joseph Bruchac is a novel about the brave Navajo Marines of World War II who used the unbreakable code of their Navajo language to help win the war.
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard is a picture book appropriate for ages 4 and up and is a wonderful introduction to this Native American food staple.
The Hogan That Great-Grandfather Built by Nancy Bo Flood. A story of one multigenerational Navajo family that works, plays, eats, sleeps and shares their lives together around their family hogan. It is a charming story of how the youngest children’s lives are intrinsically linked to their home and family. It's a picture book appropriate for ages 4 and up.
The Good Rainbow Road by Simon J. Ortiz is presented in Keres (the language of Acoma Pueblo and six other Pueblo communities in New Mexico) and in English. There is an additional Spanish translation in the back of the book. This book tells the legend of two courageous brothers who saved their village.
Sister Rabbit's Tricks by Emmett Shkeme Garcia, who is a member of the Santa Ana Pueblo tribe.
Turquoise Boy by Terri Cohlene tells the story of the Navajo legend of Turquoise Boy who searches for something that will help make his people’s lives better. It includes a brief history of the Navajo people and their customs.
Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse is an exciting quest adventure set in the American Southwest with heroes of Navajo heritage.
Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell
Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin Jr. (Author), John Archambault (Author), Ted Rand (Illustrator)
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Objective: Summarize the story in a 3-5 cell storyboard describing the main events in the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
Grade Level 5-6
Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)
Type of Assignment IndividualCommon Core Standards
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
Each of the cells represents a different part of the story. The cells are in order from beginning to end.
One cell is out of order, or the storyboard is missing important information.
Important information is missing and/or two or more cells are out of order.
Cells include images that accurately show events in the story and do not get in the way of understanding.
Most images show the events of the story, but some are incorrect.
The images are unclear or do not make sense with the story.
Descriptions match the images and show the change over time.
Descriptions do not always match the images or mention the importance of the event.
Descriptions are missing or do not match the images.
Spelling and Grammar
Spelling and grammar is mostly accurate. Mistakes do not get in the way of understanding.
Spelling is very inaccurate and hinders full understanding.
Text is very difficult to understand.