Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears

Developed by: Rhonda Thompson



Over the next two to three weeks, we will integrate our Drama unit with Reading and Social Studies. We will read a book called Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, and read other books that are related to the topic of culture. The book, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, is a winner of the Caldecott Award, and was written by Verna Aardema, who has written many well known children's' books. This is a West African folk tale about a chain of mishaps in the jungle. Students will use various resources, including books, software, and the Internet, to support this unit. They will participate in cooperative groups, work independently, produce projects, and respond to the book through reading, writing, discussion, and research.


5th Grade Core Content



RD-05-1.0.6 Students will formulate questions to guide reading. (Pre-reading)

RD-05-2.0.2 Students will identify or explain literary elements (e.g., characterization, setting, plot, theme, point of view) in a passage. (During reading)

RD-05-2.0.7 Students will make inferences or draw conclusions based on what is read. (Post-reading)

RD-05-4.0.1 Students will connect information from a passage to students’ lives (text-to-self), real world issues (text-to-world) or other texts (text-to-text - e.g., novel, short story, song, film, website, etc.). (Post-Reading)


Arts and Humanities:

AH-05-2.3.1 Students will describe or explain how drama has been a part of cultures and time periods throughout history.


Social Studies:

SS-05-2.1.1 Students will identify early cultures (e.g., English, Spanish, French, West African) in the United States and analyze their similarities and differences.



Implementation Overview: In groups of two or three, you and your group will complete a webquest using the picture book Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. In this story, a mishap happens in the jungle involving all members of the jungle in the problem.  You will be creating a story web identifying all the elements of literacy using the story.  Then you and your group will decide what other folk tale you want to read to compare/contrast it to Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears.  After finishing your story webs for each book, you will fill in a Venn diagram as your brainstorming before beginning to develop your PowerPoint (evaluation) to show the class.  All activities and handouts that you complete during the webquest will be kept in a folder to be taken up at the end of the unit.



1. Before reading the book, the answer some of the following pre-reading questions.

Record your answers to the pre-reading activity on the following handout.   http://www.edhelperclipart.com/clipart/teachers/org-topic-4ideas.pdf  Label the center circle with the title Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears.  Label the other four with: Words I Think Of, Predictions, What I Think I will Learn, and What I Already Know, then fill in the answers to the questions.



2.   Vocabulary and Diversity/Culture:

·        Look at the following map of Africa and take the quiz to learn about where the story takes place.

  Map of Africa quiz:  http://www.enchantedlearning.com/school/Africa/Africamapquiz.shtml

·        Since the story takes place in the jungle with a lot of animals, complete the following vocabulary activity to see what animals will be in the story.

          Vocabulary activity: http://www.teachervision.fen.com/tv/printables/0876280017_155.pdf  



3.  During Reading

·        Now it is time to read the story.  As you are reading the story or after you finish reading, fill in the story web using the literary elements. http://coe.west.asu.edu/students/lmonson/storyweb.htm



4.  After Reading

·        First, I want you to answer the questions individually, writing your answers down.  Then, I want you to discuss the following questions with your group. 

          1.  Describe/retell the chain of events in the story. How could all of the events have been prevented?

          2.  What conclusions did each of the animals make? Were they valid?

          3.  Why does the mosquito now whine in people’s ear? Do you believe this is the reason?

          4.  What is the moral of the folktale?

          5.  What have you learned? What have you learned about yourself?  How will the story help you in the future?



5.  Extensions/Multicultural

·        Choose another folktale from the following website: http://www.afro.com/children/myths/myths.html

·        Read the folktale and fill out a story web on the folktale that you choose. http://coe.west.asu.edu/students/lmonson/storyweb.htm

·        After filling in the story web, compare and contrast the story web for Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears to the folktale that you chose to read. 

·        Complete the following Venn diagram: http://coe.west.asu.edu/students/lmonson/venndia.htm



6.  Evaluation

·        Your group will present your presentation and second folktale to the class.  You may use PowerPoint, a poster, Smart Board, or what ever means your group decides on. This also will be your collaborative grade. Please click here to review the criteria which will determine you collaborative grade.

·        First, your group should provide a background for the folktale you chose. Then, you want to focus on similarities and differences between the two folktales.

·        You will turn in your folder after your presentation to receive an individual grade. Please click here to review the criteria on which your individual grade will be based.



7.  Conclusions

·        After all groups have given their presentations, as a class we will watch Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears on www.unitedstreaming.com to discuss how drama has been in the African culture and how storytelling is an important aspect of the African culture.