• Lessons of the Indian Epics: Following the Dharma

    Bathing in the Ganges, India. A 19th-century photograph.

    The epic poem the Ramayana is thought to have been composed more than 2500 years ago, and like the Iliad and the Odyssey, was originally transmitted orally by bards. This lesson plan is designed to allow instructors to explore Hindu culture by examining the characters of the Ramayana, and the choices they make. Students will be able to explore the Hindu concept of right behavior (dharma) through an investigation of the epic poem, the Ramayana.The epic poem the Ramayana is thought to have been composed more than 2500 years ago, and like the Iliad and the Odyssey, was originally transmitted orally by bards. This lesson plan is designed to allow instructors to explore Hindu culture by examining the characters of the Ramayana, and the choices they make. Students will be able to explore the Hindu concept of right behavior (dharma) through an investigation of the epic poem, the Ramayana.

  • Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales

    Hans Christian Andersen

    This lesson focuses on the works of Hans Christian Andersen and helps students understand the fairy tale genre through exploration and analysis of themes, plots, and characterizations in The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and other tales.

  • Cinderella Folk Tales: Variations in Character

    Cinderella

    This lesson plan compares the main characteristics of the heroine in several versions of the Cinderella tale to help students understand connections between a story’s main character and the plot’s outcome.

  • Tales of King Arthur

    Arthur Draws the Sword from the Stone

    In this lesson, students will discover how historical events gradually merged with fantasy to create the colorful tales we enjoy today.

  • Lessons of the Indian Epics: The Ramayana: Showing your Dharma

    The Citadel of Lanka, a detail from "Hanuman Visists Sita in Lanka,"

    The story of the Ramayana has been passed from generation to generation by numerous methods and media. Initially it was passed on orally as an epic poem that was sung to audiences by a bard, as it continues to be today.

  • Exploring Arthurian Legend

    Arthur thumb

    Trace the elements of myth and history in the world of the Round Table.

  • Aesop and Ananse: Animal Fables and Trickster Tales

    Selections From Aesop's Fables, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

    In this unit, students will become familiar with fables and trickster tales from different cultural traditions and will see how stories change when transferred orally between generations and cultures. They will learn how both types of folktales employ various animals in different ways to portray human strengths and weaknesses and to pass down wisdom from one generation to the next.

  • Cinderella Folk Tales: Variations in Plot and Setting

    Cinderella

    This lesson plan compares the plot and setting characteristics of several versions of the Cinderella tale to teach students about universal and culturally specific literary elements.

  • Haven't I Seen You Somewhere Before? Samsara and karma in the Jataka Tales

    Malaysian Buddha figurine.

    Many English speakers are familiar with the Sanskrit word karma, which made its way into the language during the first half of the nineteenth century. It is often used in English to encapsulate the idea that “what goes around comes around.” This lesson plan is designed to bring the meaning of karma and the related concept of samsara to life through the reading of the Jataka Tales.

  • Morality "Tails" East and West: European Fables and Buddhist Jataka Tales

    Malaysian Buddha figurine.

    Fables, such as those attributed to Aesop, are short narratives populated by animals who behave like humans, and which convey lessons to the listener. Jataka Tales are often short narratives which tell the stories of the lives of the Buddha before he reached Enlightenment. In this lesson students will be introduced to both Aesop’s fables and to a few of the Jataka Tales, and through these stories will gain an understanding of one genre of storytelling: morality tales.