Native American Legend (A)

K, 1, 2

In this lesson, the class compares a Native American version of the Cinderella story with other versions. Students explore the character traits of good and evil characters and discuss the meaning of good character. Students demonstrate what they have learned about fairy tales by writing original fairy tales.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • describe and compare character traits of the main characters.
  • compare and contrast three books.
  • review characteristics of fairy tales/legends.
  • role-play a scene from one of the stories studied.
  • write an original fairy tale.
  • The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin (see Bibliographical References)
  • Chart paper and sticky notes to create a Venn diagram
  • Drum
  • Fairy Tale Quiz (Handout One)

Martin, Rafe. The Rough-Face Girl. Putnam Publishing Group, 1998.
ISBN: 0698116267


  1. Anticipatory set:

    Sit on the floor and beat softly on a drum while you call the students to quietly sit with you on the floor. Tell the students that long, long ago many people lived on this continent. These people are Native Americans. Explain that the drum represents, for the Native American and African American people of long ago and today, the heartbeat of the people. There were and are different nations of Native Americans; one nation is called the Algonquin. Tell the students the story you will read today comes from an Algonquin legend. Like other stories it started with an oral tradition, now it is written down for us in this version called The Rough-Face Girl. Tell the students that you want them to listen for similarities and differences between this book and the other Cinderella stories.

  2. Read The Rough-Face Girl to the class. As the students move back to their seats, ask them to think about what was the greatest strength in the story—the thing that was most valued. Listen to their ideas and encourage them dialogue about the meaning of good character.

  3. Ask the students to describe the main characters. Make a list on the board of the good and bad qualities of each character.

  4. Contrast the setting of this story with the Cinderella stories read over the past few days. Discuss what qualities of this story make it uniquely Native American. Discuss the symbolism of the animals and the Great Spirit.

  5. Discuss the fairy tale traits (see Lesson One: Cinderella, Handout Two: Fairy Tale Traits) in The Rough-Face Girl. Look at the list of Fairy Tale Traits and identify which traits are found in this story. Discuss the details: What events were magic and which could really happen? Did anything happen three times? Did good win over evil? What is the lesson/moral of the story?

  6. Compare three books using a three-circle Venn diagram (Mufaro’s Beautiful DaughtersThe Rough-Face Girl, and one version of Cinderella). This may be done on chart paper set out on the floor with students sitting around it. Use sticky notes to place the story traits in the appropriate places on the diagram. Older students may work in small groups to create a Venn diagram.

  7. Discuss the idea that the moral or lesson of the story is found in stories from different cultures because it is an issue that all cultures face.

  8. Day Two:

    Divide students into small groups of four or five. They will role-play a scene from one of the three versions of the story they have heard. The scene does not have to be exact but it should involve the characters demonstrating a positive or negative character trait. Each group will take turns performing for the class, after which they will ask the class to identify what trait was portrayed, was it positive or negative, and why.

  9. Day Three:

    Using the traits of the genre, students write original fairy tales. The stories should have good and evil characters and a lesson, or moral. The students may choose to start with a story map for Cinderella and create a new setting and characters. Students follow the writing process and then publish their stories for the class library.


Students’ original stories should be graded on originality, sense of story and fairy tale components. Optional for Michigan teachers: Use the MLPP Writing Rubric. Assess through observation of student participation in discussions and role-playing. Assess second-grade comprehension of fairy tale traits with a quiz (see Handout One: Fairy Tale Quiz). The clothing drive started in Lesson One: Cinderella may continue on past this lesson. When the drive is completed, give students an opportunity to respond to the project. Response may include a discussion, drawing, friendly letters or a writing activity. Ask students to evaluate the success of the program and express their feelings about their participation in the philanthropic act.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.3 Discuss the importance of personal virtue, good character, and ethical behavior in a democracy.