Resource Type
Completion Time
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
Download and Share
Maggie Prevenas
Storybook (And the Birds Appeared- A Hawaiian Story)
Rudyard Kipling ‘Just So Stories’
Student Activity handouts (attached to lesson)
Language & Communication
General Environmental Studies


This activity is meant to help students authentically learn the scientific method through comparing and contrasting oral history (storytelling) as a way to pass along information and solve problems with the scientific method. It also helps connect the students' cultural identity with the curriculum.


Compare and contrast oral history traditions to the scientific method as a way to pass information or explain natural events.


Time: This project is assigned homework done over a two week period. One period of class to have students tell each other the mo'olelos (stories). Thirty minutes of class time to have students reflect on the lesson.

Background information needed by students: Knowledge of scientific methodology. Teacher needs to remind students of oral history traditions. Reading mo'olelo, fables, or cultural stories out loud to students can help students realize the worth of oral history as a way to pass information along or explain natural events. Invite storyteller or cultural elder to class to have students experience storytelling.

Vocabulary (terms to understand): Mo'olelo Scientific Method Oral History Description


Tell students that storytelling has been used for thousands of years to pass and explain information. The ancient Hawaiians used storytelling (mo'olelos) to explain why natural events happened or to pass along important information. Mo'olelos are an important part of Hawaiian culture.

Invite a kumu, or elder into the classroom to tell a mo'olelo. An alternative activity would be to ask students to have their parents tell them a story (fable or legend) they were told when they were young. Students will listen to a mo'olelo and then draw images to help them tell the story to their peers.

This activity is better accomplished if it is split into four distinct steps, spread out over a period of two weeks.

Step One: Read a mo'olelo or folk story (And the Birds Appeared-A Story of How Birds came to be in Hawaii). Invite a kumu or elder to tell a story OR have the students ask their parents to tell them a story they heard when they were young. The story should explain a natural event, or have important information. Students should write or draw images to help them remember the story. Allow them a week to complete this task.

Step Two: Check to ensure students have completed the Step 1 assignment. If they haven't completed Step 1, give them a story to read and tell them to draw or take notes to help them remember the story. Hand out Talk Story Cartoon Strip. Tell them their assignment is to draw the story as a cartoon strip. The cartoon strip is to use no words. Allow one week to complete the assignment.

Step Three: Students work in teams of four. Each student is responsible for listening attentively and assessing the General Learner Outcomes through the Talk Story Peer Assessment Form (attached). Review how the rubric is aligned to GLOs. Students rotate around the group, to listen and grade each of the students' stories. Students share appreciations with the storyteller. Assessment forms are returned to each storyteller who does a self assessment on each form. They average the scores. Teacher collects Peer Assessment forms and Cartoon Strips.

Step Four: Reflect in Journal. Students are to copy the following questions into their journal to reflect on the activity.

a. How are the scientific method and storytelling the same?

b. How are they different?

c. Do you think storytelling is an accurate way to pass along important education or explain natural events? Why or why not?

d. What three things have you learned from doing this activity?

Have a discussion to further compare and contrast the two methods. A Venn Diagram can be used to organize student ideas.

The teacher might want to post the cartoon strips on a 'Talk Story' board so that students may see other student work.


Assessment can be used to evaluate GLOs and understanding of scientific method.


Maggie Prevenas, prevenas [at]


5-8 Content Standard A: Science As Inquiry: Content Standard F: Science In Personal and Social Perspectives: Content Standard G: History and Nature of Science: b. Understandings about scientific inquiry e. Science and technology in society a. Science as a human endeavor

Standards Other


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