(If you want to retell any of the stories listed below, be sure
to obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material
is not in the public domain)
am doing a 4 day storytelling residency with 2nd graders soon
on a weather theme. Any ideas or suggestions out there? In my
residencies I always include teaching the students to tell their
own stories, so I will definitely have them do original tales
of weather related events in their life. What I need are stories
I can tell that are about the weather. Folks Tales type stories,
1) Keepers of the Earth by Bruchac
& Caduto has Gluscabi and the Wind Eagle
under the heading Wind and Weather.
If you can stretch weather to include seasons, you'll have more
choices - eg.
(Also in Bruchac and Caduto)
How Turtle Flew South for the Winter
Spring Defeats Winter
Manabozho and the Maple Trees
How Fisher Went to the Skyland (Origin of the Big Dipper,
but also how the people came to have summer as well as winter)
In Caduto's Earth Tales from Around the
World there is a section entitled Seasons
Earth & Sky Reconcile (Nigeria)
Nanabozho Brings the Seasons - (Anishinabe/Ojibwa)
Rainbow (Guajiro (Colombia and Venezuela)
The Wrath of March (Italy)
A Basket of Friendship (Korea)
And there's also The Month Brothers
2) Irish tales:
Three Days of the Old Brindled Cow
(Leanta na Bó Riabhigh [brindled], or Bó Rabách
[reckless]), also The Days that Skinned Branny about Parra Malone's
cow Branny, also The Borrowing Days (from Seumas MacManus, Heavy
Hangs the Golden Grain)
"There was once upon a time an old brindled cow, which lived
through the whole month of March without falling into a boghole
and being swallowed up. When the first day of old April came,
she cocked her tail straight up and started to run about mooing,
so delighted was she that the fine weather had come and that she
had come safe and sound through all the hardships of raw, windy
cruel March. Wait, wait," said old March's rough weather
and went to talk to the mild weather of fresh, bleating, showery
April and asked her for three days. "I'll give you those,"
said April's weather, "if you'll marry me." "I
will indeed," said the rough old lively fellow to the mild
fairylike April weather. And the cruel fierce wind began to blow
from the East over from Scotland, and the old brindled cow went
to search for some green grass from the top of the swamp, and
there she was drowned. That's the story which gave the Three
Days of the Old Brindled Cow their name. (from Tomás
"I remember, when a child in the North of Ireland, to have
heard a very poetical explanation of the borrowing days of March
and April. 'Give me,' says March, 'three days of warmth and sunshine
for my poor young lambs while they are yet too tender to bear
the roughness of my wind and rain, and you shall have them repaid
when the wool is grown.'" (A writer in the London
Notes and Queries vol. V, p. 342, quoted in Robert MacAdam)
Why February Has 28 Days
A shepherd in the hills of Euskal Herria on the exposed north
coast of the Iberian Peninsula always lost a number of ewes and
lambs each lambing season, which comes during the worst weather
of the year -- February and March. But one year, March Weather
was so mild the shepherd didn't lose a single sheep all month,
and he was very grateful. "March Weather," he said,
(a shepherd lives close to the elements and can understand and
talk with them), "you didn't kill any of my sheep this year,
and I want to thank you." But March Weather was proud of
his fierce reputation as a killer, and he was angry to think that
he might lose it, so he snatched two days of weather from his
neighbour, February, and killed all the sheep in the shepherd's
flock. And ever since then, February has had only 28 days. (Collected
by José Miguel Barandiarán; my translation from
Basajaun, el senor del bosque, by
Seve Calleja, Ediciones Gaviota, Madrid, 1994)
3) Stories from Siberia, collections of myths, native tales (northwest
coast) about origins of weathers.
4) Also, the fable of the sun and the rain to see who was stronger.
"We'll see who can get the coat off that man." The rain
tries to blow the raincoat off, and the man just clutches it tighter.
The sun comes out and shines, and the man smiles and removes his
5) When I taught second grade my students were absolutely spellbound
when I took them out to watch thunderstorms roll in. Here in Texas
in the spring, you can see them from miles away before there is
any real danger so I used to take the kids out to the playground
to watch. We'd talk about the principles of weather, shapes of
clouds, etc., but I also told them stories. I wish I had been
a more accomplished storyteller then. One of their favorites was
my slightly remembered story of Rip Van
Winkle, who chanced upon "little men" bowling
and fell asleep for 20 years. I told them that whenever I hear
rolling thunder I think of Rip Van Winkle. Anyway, we made it
into a weather story. I also sang a little rhyme my mother used
to use to comfort me when I was afraid of thunder. In college
a folk music group came to perform on my campus and that little
song was combined with other childhood favorites. Here are the
It's raining, it's pouring
The old man is snoring
Bumped his head
On the side of the bed
And he couldn't get up in the morning.
Recently I have researched the thunder and lightning theme and
have found several really good stories, suitable for that age
group: There is a Choctaw legend about thunder and lightning in
a book - HOW THUNDER AND LIGHTNING CAME
TO BE, retold by Beatrice Orcutt Harrell. It's well illustrated
and is easy to retell. I used it with a group of first graders.
I told the story, then showed them the beautiful illustrations
and they retold it to me.
You might also check the story of Moni Mekhala & Reamyso (the
goddess and the Giant, a Cambodian folktale. You can find it on
I found it by accident when I was looking for a tiger story.
for an African (culture not specified) story of Thunder and lightning.
6) The Mouse Who was to Marry the Sun
How Sun, Moon and Wind Went Out to Dinner
Weather folktales and lore
7) I just remembered that the game "Rain" or "Rainstorm"
may fit in very well when the kids have sat for a while for you
weather tales and you want some movement. It's in some of the
"new game" books and I know many tellers who use it.
It's the one where you either have a group in a circle and you
walk slowly around the circle from within, facing the audience
ring one by one - or - you are in front of an audience where they
can see you and you start facing them at one end and walk swiftly
across their line of sight to the other side, then back again
for each segment of the game in which you model a motion and sound
effect. You tell them that a rainstorm is coming and get them,
by example, to rub their fingers with their thumbs (they are to
continue doing a motion and sound effect until you are in front
of them again and model changing to the next). Then they are to
rub their hands together, followed by clicking their fingers.
Next comes light clapping, followed by loud clapping, followed
by stamping of the feet. Then repeat all these in reverse until
they are rubbing fingers with thums and then ----silence. It is
usually a memorable crowd pleaser.
8) Another one came to mind, how about The Twelve Months? The
child goes out in a storm and meets the twelve months of the year.
Here is an online lesson plan that might spark some ideas.
The Twelve Months - Lesson Plan
Coyote and the Columbia (as in Columbia River
American Folklore: Washington State Folktale
American Folklore: Nebraska State Folktale
The Mitten by Jan Brett - lots of
snow in this story.
The Little Dutch Boy or Hans Brinker.
The Legend of Hans Brinker who stopped
the flood by putting his finger in the hole in the dike.
Literature and Science connection
African Folktale: The Story of Thunder and
Folktale: The Cock's Ruse
Skoll and Hati, a Norse Folktale
retold by Storyteller Kevin Strauss
Here are some fun weather proverbs you might be able to fit in
Lesson 6: Weather Proverbs - Folktale Lesson Solutions
9) Roberta Simpson Brown has a wonderful story Stormwalker
and another The Rain Thing -- the
former is rather sweet, the second scarier. . . . but actually,
they might both be a little heavy for 2nd grade.
German recently told this story in German to a mostly German group,
then translated it for me later. He said it is a Philippine story
that he read in a book published in Slovakia or the Czech Republic.
Monkey, deer, and turtle (a small one, not a tortoise) fish for
a living. Monster Abidoo keeps stealing their fish. Monkey guards
fish one night, can't prevent Abidoo from stealing them. Deer
guards next night, same thing. Turtle guards next night. Abidoo
comes. Turtle is weaving something from sisal or other plant material,
begs Abidoo to tie her to a tree because monster Typhoon is coming
and will blow her away. Abidoo is scared and asks turtle to tie
him to tree. Turtle does so, monkey and deer come, amazed at turtle's
success, deer butts Abidoo in stomach in retaliation for stealing
fish, turtle tells Abidoo that was Typhoon.
11) It has some elements in common with Ears
and Tails and Common Sense in a book of the same title
Julius Lester. It's one of my favorites, learned when I taught
I share a version of the "typhoon" or "big wind"
story, rooted in Jamaican folktale. I know it as Rabbit,
Tiger, and the Big WIndy Whatever. A similar story, Brer
Tiger and the Big Wind, can be found in a collection called
The Days When the Animals Talked: Black-American
Folktales and How They Came to Be by William J. Faulkner,
first printed by Africa World Press in 1993. Also, see Julius
Lester's version of a Brer Rabbit Story in The
Tales of Uncle Remus: Brer Rabbit
and Brer Lion. This is an adaptation of the story, Brother
Rabbit Ties Mr. Lion in Joel Chandler Harris' Nights
with Uncle Remus: Myths and Legends of the Old Plantation.
In that version, Rabbit ties Lion to a tree to protect him from
a "harrycane." There are many variants. The story of
the small creature tying up the big creature to supposedly protect
him from some kind of dangerous storm is a well-travelled tale.
web page updated 8/3/03)