Honeeshgish A Navajo Legend

Lesson Procedure

Vocabulary: cautiously, charred, flickered, protection, symbolic

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Set a purpose for reading: This lesson can be used within a Fire Safety, Fire Ecology Curriculum. 
    • "Is fire hot or cold?" [Right, it is hot.]
    • "What happens if you touch fire?" [Yes, it will burn you.]
    • "There are different kind of fires, what do you see fire doing?" [There are campfires, stove fires, cigarette fire, some things can burn like trash and even houses.]
    • Are fires good or bad? Why or why not?" [Fire can be both good and bad. Fire is good for our ecosystem. Fire is bad when it is deadly, destroying homes, wildlife and polluting the air.]
    • "How do we use fire today?" [For cooking, clearing land, generating heat and light, etc.]
    • "Today we are going to read the Navajo legend 'Honeeshgish,' which refers to how the Navajo people view fire and its elements. As we read, we will ask questions and think about the story to make sure we are understanding the text."
  2. Read Aloud: Teacher will read the story, stopping periodically to ask students comprehension questions, and encouraging students to ask their own questions as they read the text. Make predictions. 
  3. "We have tools to tend to a small fire. Do you know some of those tools?" [fireplace, yule log, spade, tongs and a fire poker]
    • Generally you’re using the poker to adjust the wood and coal burning levels. This ensures that oxygen can flow freely around the fireplace by moving the logs around.The end goal is to keep your fire burning for longer.

    • People do need to be careful with fire. 

    • Fires have been used for generations by Native Americans as a way to heal, bond together, and begin sacred ceremonies, events or rituals. Not only do Native peoples call it a fire but they call it a sacred fire. Sacred fires have a variety of unique benefits, but the sacred fire itself has traditions and protocols that are followed in order to uphold the integrity and sacredness of the fire. You could say Native Americans have two kinds of fire, fire for everday purposes like cooking and keeping warm and the second kind of fire is the sacred fire for ceremonies. 

  4. Culminating Activities:
    • Invite a firefighter to present on fire safety and prevention.
    • Visit your nearest national forest and talk about fire safety and prevention. 

Lesson Extentions

  • Venn diagram - fill out and use diagram to show the two types of fire or uses for fire. 
  • Challenge Learners: Under strict supervision, the teacher can do a cookout where the students are required to cook their own food (hot dogs, marshmallows and smores).
  • English Langauge Learners: Ask students to create fire safety posters to display around the school.
  • Navajo Culture Connections: Students can study other aspects of Navajo culture, such as Navajo cooking techniques and foods, and other cultural connections, such as the creation stories.
  • Use the book "Coyote Steals Fire" to make text-to-text connections with"Honeeshgish."