Lorna Loy, Brenda Beyal
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Upper Elementary
  • Lesson Plan
  • Native American Culture
  • Native American Fable
  • Native American Storytelling
  • Utah Native American Tribe
  • Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:

    Coyote and Bobcat: A Ute Mountain Ute Tale

    Coyote and Bobcat: A Ute Mountain Ute Tale


    The Ute Mountain Ute people are one of three Ute tribes living in southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado. The Ute Mountain Ute tribal headquarters are located at Towaoc, Colorado.

    Stories with morals, like “Coyote and Bobcat,” were often used by the Ute Mountain Ute people to teach their children about proper behavior and the consequences of their own actions. Coyote tales are only told during the winter time.



    • Merry M. Palmer, Aldean Ketchum and Mary Jane Yazzie
    • Remixed by Katie Blunt
    • Remixed by Lorna Loy and Brenda Beyal

    Time Frame:

    Three (3) 30-45 minutes sessions


    Whole group

    Goals and Outcomes


    As a result of this lesson the students will:

    1. Learn the new vocabulary words: staggered, stumbled, sauntered, pliable and strolled.
    2. Increase in literacy comprehension through reading the story/fable, "Coyote and Bobcat"
    3. Learn that we must be careful to treat others well - treat others as you want to be treated. 
    4. Help students understand cause and effect relationships, recognize them when reading
    5. Identify similarities and differences between two things: coyote and bobcat


    Background Knowledge

    Teachers must know:

    1. How to use the Guided Imagery and Cause and Effect pages.
    2. This story can only be told between October 31st and January.

    Teacher Background Knowledge

    Ute Mountain Ute Tribe

    Ute people live in Utah. There are three Ute tribal nations - 1) Uintah-Ouray Utes in northeastern Utah, 2) Southern Ute in Colorado, and 3) the Ute Mountain Utes in southern Utah, southern Colorado and New Mexico. Approximately 2,200 tribal members live on, work on and use these lands. The largest portion of the reservation is in Montezuma County, which is bordered by Mesa Verde National Park to the northeast, the Southern Ute Tribe to the east, the Diné (Navajo) Nation to the south and west, and a mix of US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands and private lands, including the city of Cortez, to the north. Tribal Headquarters is located in the town of Towaoc at the base of Sleeping Ute Mountain in the southwest corner of Colorado. There are approximately 2,200 tribal members living, working and using these lands. The Ute Mountain Tribal Park contains some of the nation's most spectacular ruins and supports a thriving heritage tourism business today. 

    Native American Storytelling

    Read the story and become familiar with the tale. The purpose of Native American storytelling is not only to provide entertainment, their primary purpose is to educate. There may be a given time, place, and person to tell a given story. Oral histories and other special kinds of stories were often the prerogative of particular families, elders, chiefs, and medicine people. These individuals had roles that required specific kinds of knowledge. These storytellers were teachers who shared the history and memory that contained the tribe's collective wisdom; they were trained to present stories in ways that reflected ancient knowledge. Their audience was expected to listen attentively from beginning to end, to learn these stories for future generations, and to maintain the continuity of the story through time.

    Like many events in American Indian culture there is a proper time and place for all activities. Traditional storytelling is reserved for the winter months for many tribes. This was a practical choice given the fact that during the other season's, people were busy growing, gathering, and hunting food. It was in the winter, with the long dark evenings, the snow and wind blowing outside, that telling stories was a way to entertain and teach the children. Another reason is that many traditional stories contain animal characters. To be respectful, people waited until the winter when animals hibernate or become less active so they cannot hear themselves being talked about. Coyote stories are general told beginning at the first frost and during the winter season, October - January. 

    See background information about Native American storytelling in the attachments of this section. Links are also provided asresources for teachers. 

    Other Background Knowledge

    • How to use the Guided Imagery
    • How to use Cause and Effect 

    Related Resouces:

    Lesson Preparation

    Initial Preparation

    1. Preview the story for the theme and/or significant message or moral of the story. 
    2. Determine how your class or how your students might relate the story or background information about the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe to their own experiences.
    3. Read section on Background Information and choose how to share information about Native American storytelling and information about the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. 

    Materials Needed

    • Projector or smart board
    • Digital copy or hard copy of the Ute Mountain Utes fable, "Coyote and Bobcat: A Ute Mountain Ute Tale"
    • Pictures of a bobcat and a coyote
    • Venn diagram (may use as whole group or individual or both)
    • Cause and effect page for whole group and/or individual
    • Vocabulary words in print

    Strategies for Diverse Learners

    1. The teacher conducts a brief think-aloud activity, modeling the thinking that he or she does when reading a compare-contrast text. The teacher also records the similarities and differences between the things being compared and contrasted using a graphic organizer such as a Venn diagram. The students' role in this first think-aloud activity is to watch and listen to the model that the teacher provides. The teacher also points out features of the compare-contrast text structure itself, and creates a list of words or phrases in the text that students can look for to help them understand that they are being asked to compare and contrast two or more different things or ideas.
    2. The teacher engages the students in a second think-aloud activity. At this stage, the teacher involves students by asking direct questions about the things or ideas that are being compared and contrasted in the text, and then supports students as they complete a graphic organizer either in small groups or as a class.
    3. The teacher provides students with the opportunity to practice reading compare-contrast texts, either in small groups or individually. Students are instructed to use the same strategies modeled by the teacher during the think-aloud activities, and are given a graphic organizer to help them record and think about the similarities and differences between the things or ideas that are being compared and contrasted in the text.

    Lesson Procedure

    Day 1 (Pre-Reading):

    1. Tell the students: "Today we are going to read a story from a Native American Tribe locate in Utah. This is a story or fable from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe located in Four Corners area (Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico). Native American use stories to express what they value and believe. Thier stories explain, teach, and instruct the young people how to act and behave. Many stories have lessons to learn and explain why things came to exist in the world. These stories are passed down from one generation to the next. Native American storytelling mostly takes place in the winter time because it is believed that our of respect for the mother earth and the animals that live on the earth - it is best to tell stories once they have hibernated underground and covered with snow, especially coyote stories. Coyote stories are only told in the winter time, starting at the first frost. Today we are going to preview a story with Coyote as the main character."
    2. You can add any other information you have about the Ute Mountain Utes at this time.
    3. Tell the students that good readers always think about what they already know before they start to read. The story is a fable about how Coyote and Bobcat changed each others' looks. So today we will activate prior knowledge by determining what Coyote and Bobcat looked like before they changed each other.
    4. Teacher says: [displaying the Venn Diagram using the projector or other projection device] Today we are going to read a book about pairs of animals that look a lot alike, but are actually different types of animals. As we read, we are going to keep track of the ways that the animals are alike, and the ways that they are different. We are going to compare and contrast the two types of animals as we read. We will use charts like this [teacher points to Venn Diagram] to help us compare and contrast these animals.

    5. Show the students pictures of coyotes and bobcats.
    6. Using a Venn Diagram, compare and contrast the coyote and bobcat. Ask: 
      • How are the coyote and bobcat alike? Come up with a list of key words or phrases that signal a comparison, such as: “like,” “alike,” “same,” “also,” “too,” “both,” “similar,” “in common,” and “the same as.”
      • How is coyote and bobcat different? Come up with a list of words and phrases that signal contrasts, such as: “different,” “differ,” “difference,” “unlike,” “although,” “even though,” “instead,” “however,” and “on the other hand.” 
      • Write down compare and contrast words and phrases to the diagram or list. 
    7. Describe or read from page 4, the changes that Coyote made to Bobcat, and have the students work to figure out what he must have looked liked before the changes. Use visualizing strategy - visualizing is making a mental image in your head/brain as you read. You may have the students close thier eyes, breathe deeply and relax as they listen to the descriptive passage. 
      • Visualizing sentence stems: "I'm seeing _______" "My mental image is _______"  "When it said ______, I saw _______ in my head."  "When the author said ________, it really helped me visualize _________."
    8. Preview a picture of Bobcat with a long tail and then write "Long tail" in the space for words to describe the images the students are visualizing. 

    Day 2 (During Reading):

    1. Tell the students that while they read the story, they will determine the cause and effect scenarios that happen through out the story.
    2. Model the first cause and effect (CAUSE - Coyote created a formula that made bodies pliable. EFFECT - Coyote decided to try his formula on Bobcat).
    3. After the students have discovered all of the causes and effects, discuss them as a class.

    Day 3 (After Reading):

    1. Tell the students that there were several words in the story that were good action words and could be acted out.
    2. Ask them to volunteer to act out the words staggered, stumbled, sauntered, strolled, pliable.
    3. Give them time to gather with friends and decide how they will act the words out (recess is a good time).
    4. Show the printed version of the word and ask the students to say the word.
    5. Before acting each word out, ask who can remember how the word was used in the fable.
    6. Let the students act out the word.
    7. Ask again what the word was.
    8. Post the word in the room (put it with a picture if possible).


    • The students could write a new ending to the fable.
    • This lesson can be taught as a TALE or FABLE. After a lesson on tales or fables the students can build and write their own stories on landforms in their area as tale or fable. 
      • Have the class engage in a storytelling activity. Ask students to imagine that they are spellbinding tellers of tales. Have read the tale or fable they created or have them choose a favorite fable and retell it in their own voice and words in front of an audience of listeners. Give students an opportunity to plan the main events from the story and practice how they are going to tell the story to their audience. For example, tell them to change their pitch or volume of voice or the speed of delivery.



    Informal Assessment

    Make Use of Prior Knowledge

    Our students bring a wealth of knowledge and experiences with them to school. By asking questions that draw on what students may already know, we can help them make use of their prior knowledge to understand and learn from what they’re reading. Having students turn and talk with a partner about what they already know helps them activate their prior knowledge. This activity also integrates cooperative learning, another research-supported strategy, into the process.

    Guided Imagery

    Assess with student copies of the Guided Imagery drawings or annecdotal notes. 

    Cause and Effect

    Assess with student copies of the Cause and Effect handout or input of chart. 


    Assess with anecdotal records of vocabulary and academic vocabulary devlopement by drawing students' attention to the cueing words and phrases that or often included in compare and contrast texts such as unlike, similar to, resembles and compared to. 

    Cultural Learning

    • Can the student show on a map the approximately where the 5 Bands of Utes are located?
    • Can the student locate on a map the 5 tribes of Native Americans in the state of Utah?
    • Can the student locate on a map the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe reservation or areas in which they live?
    • Can the student relate several reasons why storytelling is important to Native Americans?

    Additional Resources

    Additional Resouce for the subject of Native Americans

    PBS: Circle of Stories - Circle of Stories uses documentary film, photography, artwork and music to honor and explore Native American storytelling.

    BYU ARTS Partnership: Arts Reaching and Teaching in Schools - Founded as an initiative in the BYU-Public School Partnership, the BYU ARTS Partnership works to increase the quality and quantity of arts education in Utah elementary schools. 

    Utah Division of Arts & Museums: Native American Teaching Artist Roster - This new Native American Teaching Artist Roster has been established with help from Brigham Young University and their Native Curriculum Initiative. As tribal leaders guide this curriculum initiative, they are equally forthcoming identifying those that best present their songs, dances, stories, baskets, weavings and other art forms important to them. UDAM is delighted in supporting this initiative and in welcoming artists new to our state agency.