E1T1 Storytelling

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This lesson is intended to allow the student to foster a unique connection with one of or all of the five main trees on the island and learn some interesting facts about it. (Douglas Fir, Cedar, Hemlock, Alder, Big Leaf Maple)


Students will be able to:

  • name the five main trees
  • know a native story around each of the five main trees
  • gain knowledge about story telling




  • Telling the story to the rest of the group
  • Being able to name the trees on Wednesday & Thursday


  • Listening to them during Tuesday morning while they work in pairs
  • What type of props and visuals they create on Tuesday Morning (I discovered one groups confusion about the story by watching them draw the story on paper)
  • Student response to instructors story telling

Age group: 4th-6th

Venue/s: Space with the five trees

Materials: E1T1 cards, stories of the 5 trees, craft materials

Time: About 1 hour 40 minutes

Set up: Familiarity with the stories



This lesson is introduced slowly.  First the instructor simply tells the students a story to which they only need to listen. Then the instructor tells a story while the students critically listen.  Next the students help the instructor tell the story.  Then the instructor helps the students tell a story.  Finally the lesson culminates with the students telling a story while the instructor listens.

Imagine your favorite story, what are some strategies you can use to tell an interesting story?


  • Monday
o   Instructor orally tells the story of the night sky during the night hike.  This is for scaffolding purposes of teaching the students one way to tell a story.
  • Tuesday Morning
o   Instructor orally tells the story of the coastal Salish and the great flood.
o   Ask the students how the story was told.  What made the story interesting to listen to? After they give suggestions for what made it good or what could improve it, retell the story through the suggestions so they can see a difference.  For example, tell bits of the story in a dry monotone voice, another part with no body language expression, another part with extreme excitement, etc.
o   Allow students to pair up.  Give each pair a native story about one of the five trees, the matching E1T1 card, and any bits of that tree you might have (I had Douglas Fir cones, a cedar branch, some fallen hemlock branches, fallen leaves from the Bigleaf Maple, etc).
o   Allow students 20 minutes to rehearse their story together and agree how to tell it.  While they do this, the instructor floats from group to group offering to listen to the story, clarify directions, or assist with any unknown vocabulary.
o   Take a 15 minute break to play some theatre games.  This is to allow time for the story to truly settle into their minds and to foster more creative thought in them.  Yes and…, Freeze Change, and other improve games are great. 
o   Allow students 5 minutes to look at the stories on paper, and then the instructor picks up all the papers for students to begin practicing telling the story without the paper.
o   Students have 20 minutes to practice the story orally.  During this time, the instructor also lays out several crafting items to allow students to make props or visuals for their story.  Brown lunch bags, crayons, paper, string, markers, plastic bags, etc.
o   If there is time, guide students into writing questions about the story to ask their fellow peers after telling them the story.  Questions should be modeled after the who, what, where, what, how of the story.  These questions also would have been modeled during the scaffolding process of telling the story by the instructor.
  • Tuesday Afternoon
o   Later in the day, when the group reaches the desired area for E1T1, allow the pairs of students 5-10 minutes to review how they are going to tell their story to the rest of the group once at their tree.  The instructor can use that time to walk from group to group offering to listen to the stories or fill in holes where students have forgotten what happened.
o   Stop at each tree as a group, allow the pair to tell their story to the rest of the group (seated) and ask their questions if they have any. 


  • This lesson is best if done over at least two days.  The first day offers a chance for scaffolding by introducing the students to storytelling.  The second day, split in two parts, familiarizes the students with the storytelling process and then offers an opportunity to tell a story.
  • Monday: 10 minutes
  • Tuesday Morning: 1.5 hours
  • Tuesday Afternoon: 1 hour


  • Students used knowledge of  trees to create an investigation
  • The same trees they learned about here are also in their home communities
  • On Wednesday, students created their own perspective story


Douglas Fir Story

Red Alder Story

Big Leaf Maple Story

Western Hemlock Story

Western Red Cedar Story

Lesson Written By: Jennifer Cunningham, IW EEC Class of 2014