Rainbow Bird

Sometimes, in a busy week, students will do some writing about a book we’ve read or an activity we’ve done and I don’t get a chance to read it that same day. When I open up the Response and Ideas books a few days later, I sometimes find absolute undiscovered treasures. The same feeling like when I find money in my pocket. It was there all along; I just hadn’t uncovered it. And when I do, wow! This writing has been hidden away in notebooks for a week and now must be shared!

Today, I began reading student responses to Rainbow Bird – An Aboriginal Folktale from Northern Australia by Eric Maddern and vibrantly illustrated by Adrienne Kennaway. Thank you to our Teacher Librarian, Ms. Sheperd-Dynes for recommending this title.

Rainbow Bird is a “pourquoi” tale explaining how humans acquired fire.

Long ago, Crocodile Man had fire and refused to share it with any of the other creatures. Bird Woman was able to trick Crocodile Man and steal fire from him. Proudly, she asserts, “Now I shall give Fire to the people.” She flew around the country putting fire into the heart of every tree. From this day onward, people could make fire using dry sticks and logs from a tree.

Students in our reading group loved this dramatic story and were eager to write and draw about it.

A few samples:

Gary is in Grade 2. His writing shows that he has learned to summarize stories using specific and descriptive language.

“Crocodile Man could blow fire. He said he is the boss of fire. The animals begged for fire but he won’t give them fire. Bird Woman asked Crocodile Man for fire but he still won’t give her fire. Then crocodile man went to sleep. Bird Woman took the fire and shared it. She put fire on herself and became Rainbow Bird. Now Crocodile Man is stuck in the swamp forever.”

Truman is a Grade 1 student who has delighted in learning idioms. These idioms snake their way into his writing and show that he understands their meaning very clearly. I laughed out loud reading this!

“Crocodile Man says he is the boss of fire. It was the time of dreams. Bird Woman is cold at night because she doesn’t have fire. One day, Crocodile Man was dog tired. Then Crocodile Man was green with envy because Bird Woman took his fire stick. Now Bird Woman is happy as a clam. She put fire in the heart of trees. Now Crocodile Man lives in the swamp forever. Bird Woman said, “If you come up here, you will die!”

Catriona is a confident thinker and writer in Grade 1. I love how she shares her predictions and questions in her response. It is evident that Catriona utilizes all of the reading powers when she reads or listens to a story.

“I predicted that Rainbow Bird would steal Crocodile Man’s fire and I was right. But Rainbow Bird wasn’t always Rainbow Bird. She used to be Bird Woman. I am still wondering if that story could be true if they took all the fiction out and replaced it with real life stuff. Then, where would Rainbow Bird put the fire?”

All such different responses to the same story shared together. I am delighted by them all!