Brenda Beyal, Lorna Loy
Literature, Elementary English Language Arts, Social Studies
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary
  • Character Analysis
  • Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation
  • Lesson Plan
  • Native American
  • Storytelling
  • Trickster Tale
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs

    Education Standards

    Coyote and Mouse Make Snow

    Coyote and Mouse Make Snow


    In this lesson, students are given a description of tribal sovereignty and federal recognition specific to the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation. They will also be introduced to characteristics of a trickster tale and then write a short story to activate their prior knowledge of specific words. The whole class will then read "Coyote and Mouse Make Snow," a trickster tale shared by the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation. Students will identify the characters, problems, and solutions within the story by filling out a handout. Possible extensions tie in with the Science Core.



    • Time frame: 1 Class period of 45 minutes 
    • Format (synchronous, asynchronous, face-to-face, virtual, etc.): Face-to-face
    • Cultural Consultants on the writing of the book: Genevieve Fields and Chrissandra Bullcreek Murphy,  enrolled members of the Confedrated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation.
    • Authors: Original lesson by Patricia Helquist, modified by Brenda Beyal and Lorna Loy





    Goals and Outcomes

    As a result of this lesson, students will be able to: 

    • identify the characters in a story.
    • identify the problems that those characters face and how they attempt to solve those problems.
    • practice writing a story with characters that face a problem, attempt to solve the problem and a resolution of the problem. 
    • Relate what a trickster tale is and the underlying lesson of the story.
    • Become more familiar with what tribal sovereignty is and the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute.


    Background Knowledge


    Teacher Background Knowledge

    • See the attachment, "Native American Storytelling,"  to learn more about NA storytelling.
    • Trickster tales are told throughout the world and are a part of the folktale genre. The main character is usually one who is intelligent, clever, full of energy and creates mischief. They make themselves or others look foolish, causing disruptions. Coyote is a common trickster in Native American stories told throughout the tribal nations. The tales have been passed down through oral traditions. It is important to note that in many Native stories, humans and animals live alongside each other communicating with one another, establishing a world where both are equal. Today, indigenous people continue to honor this tradition. A trickster tale usally has a lesson or moral for the listerner to learn how to; conduct themselves, distinguish right from wrong and take precautions. Coyote stories are traditionally told in the winter after the first snow and before spring arrives. In keeping with this tradition we ask that the book be read between those times.  
    • The Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation was established as a sovereign nation by Executive Order on May 20, 1912. Following is an excerpt from NK360 telling about tribal sovereignty:  

      "Sovereignty means the authority to self-govern. Long before Europeans arrived, the Western Hemisphere was highly populated with autonomous (self-governing) Native nations that engaged in trade and diplomacy and made agreements with one another. Native nations made many treaties with European governments and the United States. Native American leaders showed courage and insight in these treaty negotiations by reserving certain rights while ceding lands. As nation-to-nation agreements, treaties confirmed the sovereign status of Native nations in the United States. The inherent powers of self-government within the United States have also been affirmed by United States Supreme Court decisions, presidential orders, and laws enacted by Congress." 

    Student Background Knowledge

    • The Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation (CTGR) is a sovereign nation with the authority to self-govern.
    • CTGR is one of the two tribal nations that are part of the Goshute tribal group within Utah.
    • Trickster tales are part of the folklore genre and have specific characteristics.


    Lesson Preparation


    Initial Preparation

    • Preview the story and become familiar with the characters, their problems and the solutions to those problems. Determine how the students in your class might relate the story to their own experiences; think of an experience of your own that you can share with the class.
    • Be prepared to guide the students through a "Somebody Wanted But So," chart.  
    • Read background information and choose what to share about trickster tales, tribal sovereignty and CTGR. Keep in mind the question, "How will this enrich my students' understanding?" 

    Materials Needed

    • Digital copy of the Goshute traditional tale "Coyote and Mouse Make Snow" or copies of the story for paired reading (downloadable and printable book format).
    • A copy of Somebody_Wanted PDF for each student.
    • Pencil, paper
    • A copy of story_impression PDF for each student

    Strategies for Diverse Learners

    The students can work in groups or pairs to fill out the handouts. A recorded copy of the story can be made by students or the teacher to use with the lesson. 


    Lesson Procedure

    Vocabulary: bolted, leftovers, scampered, snowshoes, starving


    Before Reading

    Share information about Native American storytelling and trickster tales. Then pass out story_impression and ask the students to relate what they already know about the words: mouse, scampered, coyote, bolted, leftovers, and starving. Have them think about how these words might be part of a tickster tale and direct them to write a short story using the words. Invite some of the students to share their story. Let the class know they will listen to, "Coyote and Mouse Make Snow," and they can compare their story to the tale. 

    Teacher: Today we are going to read a story told by Genenieve Fields and Chrissandra Bullcreek Murphy, enrolled members of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation. It was transcribed and adapted by Merry M. Palmer. This coyote tale is about how a simple misunderstanding turned two brothers against each other. Think about a time that you have had a misunderstanding. How did it affect you and the other person? Share with your neighbor.

    During Reading

    Read the whole story and have a short discussion about the book and the lesson or moral the story conveys. Read the story again using the following prompts

    As we read the story again we will pay special attention to the characters in the story. We will also identify the problems the characters are facing and how they solve those problems. As we read, we will fill in the "Somebody Wanted But So" handout together. This will help us focus our attention on these important parts of the story. 

    Read pg 1- Let's look at our Sombody Wanted But So handout. There are actually two somebodies on this page. Mouse and Coyote. Let's add that to our handout. We need to write what Mouse and Coyote wanted in the next column. I remember that they wanted to catch Cottontail. In the column labeled "But" we need to write the problem that is stopping Mouse and Coyote from catching Cottontail. I am going to revisit the text to see what the problem is. Oh, it says that Coyote "pictured how fast Cottontail could run." That must be the problem, Cotton tail runs too fast for them to catch him. In the last column, we need to wrtie how Mouse and Coyote try to solve the problem. The story says that they decide to make snow so that it would be easier to grab Cottontail. 

    Read pgs 2-3- Let's add to our chart now. Who wanted something to happen? (Coyote and Mouse) What did they want to happen? (They wanted it to snow a lot) What was their problem? (It was not snowing) How did they try to solve the problem? (They sang the songs to bring the snow)

    Read pgs 4-5- Add to the chart

    Read pgs 6-7- Add to the chart

    Read pg 8- Add to the chart

    Read pgs 9-10

    After Reading 

    Hold a discussion about the book and about reading for understanding by paying close atttention to the characters in the story, the problems they, and how they try to solve those problems. 


    • Contact a local storyteller and invite them to your class. Contact can be made through the tribe, your district's Title VI Indian Education program, connections within your school community or through the Utah Division of Arts and Museum Cultural presenter/Teaching artist roster. Give yourself plenty of time to arrange for a storyteller. 
    • Have some of the students act out the story as the story is read. 
    • Using the story model, have the students write their own trickster tale, creating their own character/s. Students can also illustrate their story. 
    • Plan and carry out a science investigaton on why Mouse thought the snow was not deep at all and why Coyote fell into the snow. Then look at how humans have design solutions to falling into snow by mimicking the structure and function of animals. 
    • The story talks about Coyote singing a song to bring the snow, use this to spur a discussion on the scientific explanation of how it snows.   

    Native American spotlight 

    Perry Ground, Haudenosaunee storyteller and Cultural Educator, Mr. Ground is a storyteller who has a wonderful story about how he came to know about his identity as a Native American when he went to college. Since then he has become a sought after storyteller and cultural knowledge keeper. Though not a resident of Utah his story of coming to know more about his culture rings true with many urban Native youth.  


    • Understanding of character/s, problem/s they face and how they solve the problem/s can be assessed by having students:
      • listen to or read a story and fill out the Somebody Wanted But So handout by themselves;
      • writing a story, and;
      • retelling the story, that includes the characters, their problems, and how they attempted to solve the problems.  
    • Knowledge of characteristics of trickster tales can be assessed by:
      • having students orally share what they know about trickster tales and/or;
      • writing a trickster tale. 

    Additional Resources

    • The University of Utah Shoshoni Language project has a wonderful website with a collection of audio and video books created during the Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprenticeship Program.  
    • Coyote Steals Fire- This lesson plan was created by the BYU ARTS Partnership Native American Curriculum Initiative in partnership with the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation.
    • Chukfi Rabbit's Big Bad Bellyache: A trickster Tale by Greg Rodgers is a delightful book to read to students.