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Volcano Lore and Legend

The power and devastation of volcanoes ensures their place within the mythology of many cultures throughout history. Create a visual portrait of a volcano legend.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Students review basic information about the different types of volcanoes and the dangers associated with each type, such as landslides, gases, tephra (solid material shot into the air), lahars (moving fluid mass of debris and water), as well as lava and pyroclastic flows. Then look at the literary portrayal of volcanoes over time and through cultures.
    2. Research mythical characters like Vulcan, Hephaestus, and Pele. Explore various Native American traditions surrounding the mountains of Rainer, St. Helens, and Crater Lake.
    3. Create a visual image of the volcano as portrayed in literature. Perhaps show Kilauea, home of Pele; or Louwala-Clough, the smoky mountain of the Northwest. Illustrate the appropriate type of volcano as well as a related danger to render in Crayola Model Magic® modeling compound. Use a small armature such as a film canister.
    4. Texturize the surface of your mountain with toothpicks or other modeling tools. Blend colors halfway to get the look of a marbleized magma flow. Pull edges to create wispy effects. Air-dry the volcano for 3 days.
    5. Present information about the mythical origins of the sculpted volcanoes to classmates.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, in the grade level text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    LA: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade level reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    SCI: Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers to support an explanation for changes in a landscape over time.

    SCI: Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Locate and distinguish among varying landforms and geographic features, such as mountains, plateaus, islands, and oceans.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Use visual structures of are to communicate ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Volcano & Earthquake (DK Eyewitness Books) by Susanna van Rose; Volcanoes by Seymour Simon; Volcanoes & Earthquakes (Insiders (Simon and Schuster)) by Ken Rubin; Pele: Goddess of Hawaii's Volcanoes by Herb Kawainui Kane; The Smoking Mountain: The Story of Popocatepetl and Iztacchihuatl: An Aztec Legend (Graphic Myths & Legends) by Dan Jolley

    Working in small groups, students read first-person accounts of historic eruptions of volcanoes. How have these accounts changed throughout history?

    Students research how volcanoes have been used in history as symbolic devices. For cultures that do not live near volcanoes, how are volcanoes portrayed? How are volcanoes portrayed in contemporary culture, such as movies, television, or adventure stories?

    Students investigate the Alaska Volcano Observatory. What is the purpose of this observatory? How has its existence helped with understanding how volcanoes work, as well as how to live safely near volcanic eruptions?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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