"Quak-wah-tania and Her Sisters" Lesson

ESOL language proficiency levels: beginner, intermediate

Students will appreciate folk tales as a universal genre with similar elements and life lesson to be learned, no matter the culture or country of origin. They will also practice reading fluency by starting with increased background knowledge and repetitive readings in interactive formats.

  • Have students predict storyline from title
  • Enact story (puppets or live drama)
  • Discuss similarities with "Cinderella"
  • Using map of South America , have students locate Guyana on a map.


  • To state the distinguishing characteristics of a folk tale
  • To summarize a folk tale identifying story elements: characters, setting, problem, solution, beginning, middle, end, climax/turning point
  • To locate Honduras and Guyana on a map and state their geographic relation to the United States
  • To practice reading fluency and story summarization 


  1. Reading
    • 1st time: Teacher reads aloud with animation
    • 2nd time: Distribute visualization handout . Student read along silently while teacher reads aloud (NO sketching)
    • 3rd time: Using visualization handout
      • Teacher pauses after each paragraph allowing students to sketch visualization of words (1.5-2 min)
      • Students circle any words/phrases they do not understand
      • Before continuing, students share words/phrases they do not understand and see if other students can define/explain words/phrases before teacher responds
    • 4th time: Students read silently or with a partner, sharing sketch representations and discussing the folk tale
  1. Folk tale characteristics
    • Teacher explains common characteristics of folk tales
    • Students complete common characteristics of folk tales table , identifying characteristics from "Quak-wah-tania and Her Sisters" (see answer key )
    • Discuss with students the life lesson to be learned from the story. Possible responses:
      • Treat people the way you would like to be treated
      • All people should be treated with respect, dignity, humanity, and understanding
      • Take control of a situation rather than letting it control you
      • Do not be afraid to face fear
  1. Language
    • Paragraph jigsaw
      • Summarizing the story, teacher or students create sentences and write them on sentence strips. Teacher places sentence strips in order students say them.
      • Once completed (students cannot think of other sentences), students re-read sentences in sentence chart, checking chronological order. If sentences/events are out of order, students direct teacher to put them in correct order. Students continue to re-order sentences until story is in chronological order.
    • Sentence jigsaw puzzle
      • Keeping sentences separate, they are cut up word by word, then paper-clipped together or placed in an envelope/bag.
      • Students swap sentences and put them back together, re-reading the sentences aloud.
  1. Freeze frame/Charades
    • In small groups (3-4), students create "freeze-frames" from the story
    • Teacher cuts up "visualization" scenes and places them in a container
    • Student groups blindly select a scene, "freeze-frame" it so that other students can guess what part of the story it is showing

Frameworks & Standards

Enduring Understandings

  • Folk tales occur in all cultures and teach important life lessons
  • Treat others the way you would like to be treated
  • All people should be treated with respect, dignity, humanity, and understanding

Essential Questions

  • What are human rights everyone is entitled to?
  • How does your treatment of others reflect on you?
  • What value do folk tales add in teaching people about the world, themselves and others?


PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards

Standard 1: Communicate for social, intercultural, and instructional purposes within the school setting.

Standard 2: Communicate information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the area of language arts.

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts

Key Ideas and Details

  • Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it
  • Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development
  • Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure

  • Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text
  • Analyze the structure of texts
  • Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media
  • Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text
  • Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics

U.S. National Geography Standards

Essential Element I: The World in Spatial Terms

  • Use maps and other geographic representations to acquire, process and report information 



  1. Using common characteristics of folk tales table as an outline, students may work individually, in pairs to write their own, original folk tale.
  2. Bring a folk tale from her/his country of origin (or of her/his ancestors) and complete extension activities 2-3
  3. Compare/contrast with other folk tale
    • Using T-chart , students list similarities and differences of “Quak-wah-tania and Her Sisters” compared with traditional American folk tales or stories (Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood)
    • Using Venn Diagram , students list similarities and differences of “Quak-wah-tania and Her Sisters” and another folk tale 

Related Lessons

View All
Read More
Read More
Read More