Stories from our Natural World - Mid-Pacific Institute

Grade 5

Stories from our Natural World

Posted on November 3, 2017

by Ms. Byrne on November 3, 2017

Why do sand crabs only come out at night?

Where do rainbows come from?

Why do volcanoes erupt?

How do waves form?

Have you ever wondered about these natural phenomena? The students in `Apapane have, and they're writing myths and legends to explain them. Because the class was so interested in mythology, we decided to write our own myths and legends. We read many great examples of myths and legends from different times and cultures. Each of these myths and legends told a great story to explain a natural phenomenon. We learned that the myths and legends we read agreed with the science of these natural phenomena, but they told it in the context of a story. That meant, if the students were going to tell a story explaining their natural phenomenon, they needed to find out as much as they could about it. So we set about doing just that. The students researched their natural phenomenon and focused on details they could use in their story. Once they gathered their information, the students began to create.

As a class, we developed a list of criteria called the "Author's Toolbox." In small groups, students organized our very long list of what good authors do into categories that made sense for them.


IMG_7800 (1).jpgHere are a couple of excerpts of "finished" versions. These are working documents so they will never actually be finished because we continually learn more about improving our writing.

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Using the criteria we created as a class in their "Author's Toolbox," students wrote a first draft. Their drafts went through a series of revisions, peer conferences, and edits. One exciting revision that we worked on was improving the lead or hook to our story. We were very lucky to have author, Georgia Heard, visit our school. She worked with `Apapane on creating a lead that would draw people into their myth. She worked with our authors to "re-vision" the beginning of their pieces. Here's one great transformation.

Here is the original beginning to "How do waves form?"

"Once there was someone named Bob. Bob loved to surf. He went to the beach every day."

Here is the "re-visioned" lead.

"Crash. Slap. The waves smashed on the beach. A person on his striped surf board waited for the next wave that was barreling at him. He waited. It was right behind him now. He started to surf. He was going so fast he slammed on to shore."

Another important writing trait that we've been working on is word choice. Word choice is using just the right word to express what you're trying to say. The students have created a personal thesaurus to help them with this. Another great lesson we learned from Georgia Heard is that the word thesaurus comes from the word ʻtreasureʻ or ʻtreasury,ʻ so we've been hard at work looking for word treasures. We even have a new addition to the classroom, the "Word Treasures" wall, where we can share words that we love. Here are a few examples:

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Students can work on these word teasures in class or at home. I encourage you to look for word treasures to share and discuss with your child. Also, please ask them what word treasures they heard in class so you can use them in conversation.

Here are the treasures we have so far:







We are in the final editing stage of our myths and legends, and we look forward to sharing them with you soon!