Folk Music Lesson Plan: The Legend of John Henry
Submitted by: Julia
Grade Levels: 3-5
In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-5, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the legend of John Henry and make connections to folk music. Students will also explain how folk stories and songs contribute to American culture.
Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments
Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events
Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.
Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.
- Explore the legend of John Henry and make connections to folk music.
- Explain how folk stories and songs contribute to American culture.
heyday; anonymous; genre; activism; peril; migrant; revival; rural; acoustic instrument; forum; tall tale
Preparation:Preview the 60's Folk movie and plan pause points where you will talk about the movie with students. Make photocopies and gather related resources.
- Review with students what they know about John Henry. You may want to read excerpts from a book or website about John Henry.
- Ask if students know the definition of a tall tale. Guide students to understand that a tall tale is a story that has some fact, but the truth can be exaggerated.
- Play the John Henry clip and talk about how the music is influenced by the tall tale.
- Explain to students that in the United States, one of the most popular kinds of music during the 1960's was folk music. Project the 60's Folk movie and talk about some characteristics about folk music. Ask students: What is folk music? Why there are no authors of original folk music? How it has changed over the years?
- Pass out the Frayer Chart Graphic Organizer about John Henry for students to complete individually, or in pairs/groups.
- For closure, have students turn and talk to a partner about what they learned.