Animal Myths: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

While myths can be quite entertaining, the purpose of them is a lot more than that. Myths were meant to explain things that stumped a culture-why is the sky blue? This lesson covers three quite interesting myths involving some of your favorite animals!

What is a Myth?

Long before the days of high-speed internet access, humans looked at the world around them and rightfully had questions. How did they answer those questions? They looked to their culture's collection of myths, or stories, to better understand the place they lived. Myths explained supernatural occurrences, the consequences of bad decision-making, and why certain things exist in nature.

How Honeybees Protected Their Honey

Honeybees make delicious honey!

Do you like honey? The people of Brazil certainly did, and their explanation of why honeybees put their nests up high in trees makes perfect sense.

A long time ago, honeybees would make their honey into pots that sat on the ground. This was perfect for honey-loving humans, as they could eat as much honey as they wanted to. Sounds great, right?

Not so fast. The gods were very unhappy that the people were gorging themselves on the sugary, sweet stuff-they believed that it wasn't right that the humans were gaining weight and being lazy. So, the gods had to fix it.

The gods then devised a plan, and demanded help from the bees. They required that the bees build their combs high in the trees so the people would have to work-and exercise-to satisfy their sweet 'tooths.'

How Elephants Got Their Trunks

Have you ever wondered how elephants got their long trunks?
baby and mama elephant

The Thai people certainly had a different take on how bees began to build their honeycombs. It involves an animal that is actually scared of the winged insects: elephants!

In the beginning, elephants looked a bit differently than they do today-they didn't have trunks! To escape the smoke of a forest fire, the bees sought refuge in the elephants' mouths. The elephants didn't like the honeybees using them as their new hiding place, so they snorted as hard as they could to try to get them out. With each powerful exhale, the elephants' noses grew, and the trunk was born.

After so much exhaling, the elephants had to breathe in, despite the air being filled with smoke. The smoke bothered the bees so much that they flew out of the trunks forever. To this day, the bees remember the hollow trunk of the elephant, so they nest in the best substitute: a tree.

How the Bluebird and the Coyote Got Their Color

Why is the bluebird blue?
single bluebird

The Pima tribe told this myth to explain the interesting color differences of these animals.

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