The Greedy Porcupine: A Shoshone Tale

Lesson Procedure

SESSION ONE: Time Frame: 45 minutes

Native American Storytelling

  1. Tell the students they will be reading a Native American traditional story, retold by the elders or storytellers from the Northwest Band of Shoshone tribe who are locate in Utah. Show them a map of this location - Utah - Indian Tribal Lands and help students locate the tribal lands. Give other background information to help students become familiar with the Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation. 

  2. Share the purpose of Native American storytelling. See the pdf document attachment "Native American Storytelling"

Shared reading setting: read the story "The Greedy Porcupine" as a class. 

  1. Before reading, discuss any unfamiliar words. Review the vocabulary words. 
  2. Make predictions using the strategy "First Lines." First Lines helps students learn to make predictions about the content of what they are about to read or what is about to be read to them. It helps students focus their attention on what they can tell from the first lines of a story.     
    • Read aloud only the first line in the story.  
    • Ask students to make predictions for the reading based on the first sentence.
    • Engage the class in discussion about the predictions.
    • Encourage students to return to their original predictions after reading the text, assessing their original predictions and building evidence to support those predictions which are accurate. Students can create new predictions as well.
    • VARIATION - you can have your class use a graphic organizer for First Lines. Graphic organizer includes: the first line, the prediction(s), and explanation, rationale or evidence and revision. Your class will only fill all areas except the revision. Revision will be completed when the return to their original predictions after reading the text. 
  3. Have your class discuss the character traits of Porcupine (as a whole class). Teacher Note: A CHARACTER MAP is a graphic organizer that helps students learn about a character and how the character impacts and is impacted by setting, other characters, and plot. Use your own character map or the attached character map to lead your discussion. 
    • Discuss the main components of characterization, i.e., what a character says and thinks, what a characters looks like, how a character acts, and how others view and treat the character.
    • Discuss how characters impact and are impacted by other elements of literature, e.g., setting, characters, and plot.
    • Provide students with a character map graphic organizer and model how to use it. Using a class text(s) and a think aloud to illustrate your thinking; scaffold as needed.
    • As students read, have them complete the character map. After reading, have students fill in any missing parts; scaffold as needed.

Diverse Learners

  • Include writing as a way of organizing predictions and/or thoughts generated from discussions.
  • Have students work in groups and support each other as they make a prediction.
  • Remind students that there is not a "right" or "wrong" way to make predictions about a text.
  • Emphasize that they should be able to support their predictions from the information in the sentence.

SESSION TWO: Time Frame: 45 minutes

  1. Hand out copies of character map, found in the attachments of this lesson. Have students fill in the character guide with the name of the main character, Porcupine.
  2. As a whole class, instruct the students to brainstorm words from the story that might be used to describe the main character, and write the words on the board (5 minutes).
  3. Pair up the students and instruct them to work on the character map and complete it with their ideas and observations about the main character (15 minutes).
  4. Then complete a whole class character map. Or use the same character map you used in the previous session and revise the character map.
  5. Have some of the students share their responses in a whole-class setting (10 minutes).
  6. Discuss with the class the difference between how Porcupine felt before receiving the gift of the shooting arrows (a discussion about what the arrows really are might be good right now) and how the gift changed how he treated others. Ask the students: Why do you think he changed? Why do you think Shinob, the Great One, changed his gift? Do you think Porcupine deserved it? (10 minutes)

Diverse Learners

  • Scaffold your instruction by providing prompts for each section on your map. For example, in the "Character' Problem" box of your map, use prompts such as: Who are the main characters? Where does the story take place? What does Porcupine say to lead you to his problem? You can write in these prompts before printing or making copies of a character map intended for students to fill out independently. 
  • Differentiate by providing less complex character map templates — for those working to grasp the basics of stories and characters, more complex maps, with students ready to engage in more complex work.
  • Have the students complete story maps in pairs, being sure to partner a reader or writer who needs extra support with one who has more skill. Partners can also fill out a story map together after a Paired Reading activity.


  1. This traditional tale provides opportunities for theater, creating poetry, art, science (a study on defense mechanisms of animals). 
  2. Students might choreograph a movement/dance performance that shows the storyline, using characters and movement set to music; character studies based upon other traditional tales where a lesson is taught via the story involving a character is another possible extension.