Are you stuck in the same cycle of only exposing your students to Greek and Roman mythology? I too love these stories, but many of us are looking to expand our students to other views in the world. Maybe incorporating cultural studies of other societies and their mythology can help!
Japanese Mythology and Folktales
Japanese mythology is sorely missing in most studies. I find this most odd given the high interest that many of our students have in manga and anime stories. Japanese mythology is extremely rich and complex. You could easily spend months teaching it. If you only have a short timeframe though, here are the 3 I suggest:
Creation Story– this accounts for how the world, the Japanese islands, and the deities are all created
The Ogre of Rashomon– this is a folktale of a hero who encounters the terrible Ogre of Rashomon and learns a lesson on why you should always be suspicious if your old nanny shows up out of the blue
The Bamboo Cutter and the Moon Princess– little bit of mythology mixed with folktale here; this is the story of how the Moon Princess comes to Earth and is found by a simple bamboo cutter inside of a bamboo stalk. She lives and grows with the couple and learns what it is to be human. For a little extra analysis, consider comparing with the new anime movie The Tale of Princess Kagua! Check out my comparison here.
Ready to open up the world of Japanese mythology and folktales to your students but want to save time researching and creating material? Check out this resource!
I ADORE Celtic mythology. Maybe I was a druid in my past life because I just can’t get enough of it!
I like to add in Celtic mythology in a couple of ways.
- A mini unit in which we cover several individual deities and mythological creatures and then compare them with the Irish animated movie Song of the Sea. My students always love this. It’s different from everything they have covered and the movie is just amazing! Ready to get started with this mini unit? Check out this resource here!
- Celtic mythology had some seriously scary beings, Especially Banshees and The Dullahan (the original headless horseman). It’s always a blast covering these stories during Halloween season while also seeing how largely our modern day celebrations of Halloween are traced back to ancient Celtic customs. Ready to have a little scary fun with your mythological studies? Check out this resource here!
Who doesn’t love learning about Vikings?!
Again, this is an extremely diverse culture and mythological belief system. After introducing students to the history and culture of the people, I personally love using Neil Gaiman’s book called Norse Mythology for many of the tales.
However, for a fantastic look at their greatest hero story (which of course also has meddling Norse gods in it), I highly recommend Sigurd. It has everything- dragons, damsels in distress, Odin and Loki, and much more!
Does all of this sound good and you want to try covering it all?! Check out this resource.
It goes without saying that in the wide expanses of the world, this is but a small tasting of the mythology you can start including to change things up! I also highly recommend The Ramayana for a look at Hindu mythology and have had some great successes with my students in the past with it. Exposing students to Igbo mythology and culture can help greatly before reading books heavily focused on this culture- like Things Fall Apart or Purple Hibiscus.
Are there any mythology studies you love to incorporate into your studies each year that go beyond the traditional Greek/Roman tales?
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