The Message in Myths


Students will learn about Cherokee myths and compare and contrast verbal and written communication methods.

Coin Type(s)

  • Dollar

Coin Program(s)

  • Native American $1 Coins


Students will learn about Cherokee myths and compare and contrast verbal and written communication methods. Students will learn about Sequoyah, creator of the Cherokee syllabary.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts
  • Art


  • 2nd
  • 3rd

Class Time

  • Sessions: Two
  • Session Length: 30-45 minutes
  • Total Length: 91-120 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Small groups

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic knowledge of:

  • The writing process
  • Story elements
  • Written language

Terms and Concepts

  • Native American $1 Coin
  • Reverse (back)
  • Obverse (front)
  • Myths
  • Written Language
  • Communication


  • 1 overhead projector or equivalent classroom technology
  • Overhead transparencies or copies of the following:
    • “2017 Native American $1 Coin reverse (back)” image available on the 2017 Native American $1 Coin page
    • “Cherokee Myths” transparency
    • “Cherokee Myths” worksheets
  • Chart paper
  • Copies of Cherokee myth text, for example:
    • The First Fire
    • The First Strawberries
    • Why the Possum’s Tale is Bare
  • Overhead transparency markers
  • Writing instruments
  • Markers or colored pencils
  • Drawing paper


  • Locate several Cherokee myths to use for the lesson (see examples listed under Materials)
  • Make copies of the “Cherokee Myths” worksheet (1 per student)
  • Make an overhead transparency of each:

Lesson Steps

Session 1

  1. Describe the Native American $1 Coin Program for background information. Explain that there is one coin per year and the coins celebrate contributions made by Indian tribes and individual Native Americans to the history and development of the United States.
  2. Display the transparency or photocopy of the 2017 Native American $1 Coin. Explain that the man featured on the back of the coin is Sequoyah, who invented a written language for the Cherokee people called the Cherokee Syllabary. Examine the design with the students and have them identify the images and writing in this coin design, including Sequoyah, the pen and paper, and “Sequoyah from Cherokee Nation” written in syllabary along the border of the design.
  3. Ask the students why they think it was important for the Cherokee people to have a written language. Accept all responses and record them on chart paper.
  4. Tell the students that one benefit to having a written language was that it allowed people to record their cultural heritage through stories and myths. Explain that some cultures have favorite stories called “myths.” Ask the students, “What is a myth?” Accept all responses and record them on chart paper.
  5. Explain to the students that myths are stories that answer important questions about the world and nature and how things came to be. Explain that before the syllabary, Cherokee myths could only be shared orally. The invention of the syllabary meant these myths could be written down and shared.
  6. Read one Cherokee myth together as a class. Use the “Cherokee Myths” transparency to Identify the element of nature discussed in the myth and the explanation the myth gives for how that element of nature came to be.

Session 2

  1. Review the previous lesson, including the concept of myths and the creation of the Cherokee syllabary as a way to record those myths.
  2. Tell the class they will be working in groups, reading a Cherokee myth and presenting it to the class.
  3. Split the class into groups. Give each group a copy of a Cherokee myth. Pass out the “Cherokee Myths” worksheets.
  4. Explain to the class that each group will read their myth and then fill out the “Cherokee Myths” worksheet. Assist students in filling out the worksheets as needed. Have each group draw a picture to illustrate their myth.
  5. Have each group present their myth to class, verbally recounting the myth. After each presentation, pass out a copy of that group’s written myth and have the rest of the class read it. Note any differences between the written myth and the verbal re-telling to illustrate the importance of having a written copy of a story for accuracy.
  6. Collect the “Cherokee Myths” worksheets. Display the pictures in the classroom.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Have students work individually or in pairs
  • Create a graphic organizer instead of the “Cherokee Myths” worksheet


  • Direct students to examine other culture’s myths about the same topic and make comparisons between the different stories
  • Direct students to write their own myth about an aspect of nature
  • Have students act out their myth
  • Have students play a game of "telephone," where they line up and whisper a message into the ear of the classmate next to them until the last student announces the message to the class


Cherokee Myths


Title of Our Myth: ______________________________________________________________________

Element of Nature: _____________________________________________________________________

Explanation: __________________________________________________________________________




Picture of Our Myth:










Common Core Standards

Discipline: Math
Domain: K.G Geometry
Grade(s): Grade K
Cluster: Identify and describe shapes (squares, circles, triangles, rectangles, hexagons, cubes, cones, cylinders and spheres)

  • K.G.1. Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind and next to.
  • K.G.2. Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size.
  • K.G.3. Identify shapes as two-dimensional (lying in a plane, "flat") or three-dimensional ("solid"). 

Discipline: Math
Domain: K.G Geometry
Grade(s): Grade K
Cluster: Classify objects and count the number of objects in each category.

  • K.MD.3. Classify Objects into given categories; count numbers of objects in each category and sort the category by count.

National Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any National Standards.