Folk Literature Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about folk literature with this lesson plan. They will study a text lesson, take an accompanying follow-up quiz, and partake in three fun hands-on activities to increase comprehension.

Learning Objectives

After studying this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • Explain what folk literature entails
  • Name some examples of folk literature
  • Recount how written folk literature originated from spoken folklore


1-1.5 Hours


Key Vocabulary

  • Epic poems
  • Fairy tale
  • Folklore
  • Folktales
  • Folk Songs
  • Folk literature
  • Mark Twain
  • Proverbs

Curriculum Standards


Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.


Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone


  • Inform your students they will be studying folk literature.
  • Ask them if anyone is familiar with a specific example of folk literature.
  • Review the key vocabulary terms.
  • Hand out copies of the text lesson Folk Literature: Definition & Books, one per student.
  • Read the introduction and the first section 'Writing the Unwritten: Folk Literature Defined.'
    • In what places does folk literature exist?
    • What is the difference between folklore and folk literature?
    • Which one is spoken and which one is written?
    • What were some early epic poems?
    • Who were their authors?
    • Can folk songs and folklore probably be attributed to just one author? Why?
    • Which famous fairy tale did the Brothers Grimm write? Were there other versions?
    • What are folktales?
    • Can you name two famous American ones?
    • Can you name a famous American author who penned them?
    • What are proverbs?
  • Now read the section 'Examples of Folk Literature.'
    • What is a well-known example of a folk song sung by children?
    • What decade was it first copied down to be saved for future generations?
    • From what country is the tale of Snow White?
    • From what state is the tale of legendary John Henry?
    • What was his nickname?
    • For what was he known?
    • Sadly, how did he die?
    • On what topics do proverbs focus?
  • Lastly, read the section 'Lesson Summary', recap the complete text lesson, and answer any pertinent questions posed by your students.
  • Have your students take the lesson quiz to demonstrate their new knowledge.

Activity One

  • Inform your students they are going to be writing their very own folk stories.
  • Divide the students up into five groups.
    • Group One, you will be Team Snow White. Your story will involve what happens as she and the prince rule the land.
    • Group Two, you will be Team Cinderella. Your story will involve what happens after she and the prince marry.
    • Group Three, you will be Team The Tortoise and the Hare. Your story will involve what happens after the race.
    • Group Four, you will be Team The Three Little Pigs. Your story will involve what happens after the wolf goes away.
    • Group Five, you will be Team Jack and the Beanstalk. Your story will involve what happens after Jack escapes the giant.
  • Now use the Internet to research your story.
  • Each person in your group must contribute at least three lines to the story.
  • Be creative, but try to at least follow the original story with some of the details as you create your sequels.
  • Make sure your ending is different than the ending of the original story.
  • Finally, have each group elect a spokesperson to read their sequels to the entire class. If they wish the groups may act out their stories instead of just reading them.

Activity Two

  • Let your students know they are going to rewrite the song Bingo, but with a different name and a different animal.
  • Have your students remain in the five groups.
  • Now allow them to write their own versions of the song. Each group must pick a different animal and a different name.
    • The song is readily available online for no charge, so you can review the lyrics first.
    • Since there will be five groups singing and talking at the same time, please try to whisper when you talk and sing in a soft manner.
  • Finally, have each group take turns singing their songs to the entire class.
    • How and why do you think this song was first created?

Activity Three

  • Let your students know they are going to be playing a 'Match-up' game involving proverbs.
  • Divide your students up into pairs.
  • Hand out two preprinted worksheets, one with 15 proverbs, and one with 15 definitions of those proverbs, in mixed order.

1) Birds of a feather flock together. a) We tend to spend our days with friends who like the things we do.

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