Folklore Around the World with Kindergarteners

Each spring, the K’s embark on a study of folklore, a genre whose influence is felt across literature, pop culture, and beyond.  Over the years, I’ve discovered that most 5-6 year old students haven’t read many of these stories.  Through our lessons, students learn the traits of folktales and basic map skills while enjoying high-interest literature.


Over this unit, they’ll hear 5-6 folktales from different continents around the world.  Some of my favorites include:

NOTE: Tikki Tikki Tembo has been a perennial favorite of the K’s for years; however, in light of an article by Grace Lin questioning the accuracy of the book, I’m changing future folktale units. PLEASE read her article, then decide if it’s a story you choose to incorporate. Big thanks to dear colleague Kim for sharing!

Before sharing stories, I teach/review to the K’s:

  • Since folktales are stories from traditional literature, they are shared orally – via storytelling.  So folktales have no author – they have retellers.
  • ANYONE can be a reteller – even them!
  • Also, because folktales are passed down via people telling stories, they come from places where people live. So folktales come from all the continents of our world – except Antarctica (because people aren’t from there).
  • Stories that have retellers aren’t kept in the same place as stories with authors. They are not in the E/Everybody section.  Instead, they’re in the 398.2 section.

To help teach where folktales are kept in the library, we sing a 398.2 song.  Sung to the tune of “Happy Birthday To You”, it goes like this:

Three ninety-eight point two. (hold up 2 fingers on “two”) // Three ninety-eight point two.  (hold up 2 fingers on “two”) // Three ninety-eeeeeight point twooo…  (hold up 2 fingers on “two”) // Fairy Tales and Folk, too!

Each week, right before our story, students sing the Continents of the World song.

As we sing, I walk around the map pointing out each continent.  As the unit progresses, students stand on the map, walking to each continent as they lead the song.

After singing, the children place book icons (small cover images) on our map.  We map where we live and what continent our folktales are from.  The first week I model this process, then I’ll choose children to perform this work independently for our whole class.  Finally, I introduce the week’s folktale by placing the book icon on the map either prior to or after our reading.

(picture to come…apparently I’ve deleted all my examples!)


An informal group assessment is done, using child-friendly “Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down” responses to statements on folktales. To help ensure students have adequate thinking time (and to allow them to answer independently of their peers), students keep their thumbs in their fist until I call “show me your thumb”, then “thumbs away”. No embarrassment over wrong answers, no bragging over right answers…and I can reteach immediately, if needed.

Here is the PowerPoint: k_folktalesaroundtheworld_assessment

2 thoughts on “Folklore Around the World with Kindergarteners

  1. Pingback: New year? New ideas! Kindergarten | Librarian Arika

  2. Pingback: Library ideas for little learners | Elementary Library with Ms. Arika

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