Storytelling with Artists

Language Arts, Art, and Social Studies Activity

Students retell a legend orally, illustrating it with the art style of the source culture.



  1. Explain to students that oral storytelling has always been very popular in Africa. Storytellers pass on their cultures' traditions by telling the stories of the past. Point out that traditional art and handiwork are also passed on from generation to generation.

  2. Divide the class into presentation teams. Each team should include both storytellers and artists. Tell students they are to locate a traditional African story to retell orally. Explain that each team of storytellers is to learn one story by heart, dividing it so that each storyteller tells one part. Meanwhile, the artists in each team are to research the art of the source country (or ethnic group) and illustrate key parts of the story. Encourage them to emulate the traditional art style.

  3. Schedule a performance of the stories on a African Arts Day and invite other classes and members of the community to attend. Before the performance, have students write and make copies of an informative program containing background information on the pieces they are going to present. Have students distribute the programs to the audience.


Suggest that teams choose their sources from various nations in Africa. As a follow-up to the performance, have students locate the countries on a map. Lead a discussion to examine the similarities and differences among the tales and to explore student's conclusions about them.

Encourage students to write and perform a tale about modern Africa. An example might be a story based on Nelson Mandela's life.

Find examples of music from the source country of each tale. Students interested in dance and movement can use them to tell the story they hear in the music.

Activity Search | Reading Center | Math Center | Social Studies Center
Education Place | Site Index

You may download, print and make copies of this page for use in your classroom, provided that you include the copyright notice shown below on all such copies.

Copyright © 1998 Houghton Mifflin Company. All Rights Reserved.