Support Materials

Alastair K Daniel

A Sample Worksheet

The sample pages which follow come from the Support Pack for A World of Stories and Really Grimm Tales.
Where Do We Come From was devised so that it could be used as a self contained Literacy Hour.

   * Where do we come from – introduction
   * A Norse Creation Myth
   * A Creation Myth from the Yoruba People of Nigeria - 1
   * A Creation Myth from the Yoruba People of Nigeria - 2

A note on copyright
Permission is granted for the resource below to be copied for use in schools. A K Daniel asserts the right to be recognised as the author of these resource materials. The Myths and Stories contained in the resources pack are my tellings of traditional narratives widely sourced.

Where Do We Come From? - Story and a Sense of Place

This unit has been devised so that it can be used as a self-contained literacy hour.


For students to explore the sense of place of peoples as revealed by their mythic tales


By the end of this unit students should have:

   * read two contrasting creation myths
   * have a mental picture of the landscapes they evoke
   * explored the use of adjectives in describing place
   * have a basic understanding of the role of myth


1. Shared Reading

   * Refer to the sheet in the student book The Norse Creation Myth. Read this as a whole class.
   * Note the use of repetition to give a sense of movement, and the lack of adjectives. Also make reference to the movement from chaos to order.

2. Whole Class Word Level

   * Look at the text again and read sections asking for students to suggest appropriate adjectives to make the landscape easier to see in the 'mind's eye'.

3. Independent Work

   * Refer to the two sheets A Creation Myth from the Yoruba People of Nigeria (there are two versions of the sheet catering for different levels of reading).
   * Students are asked by the sheets to engage with the myth and explore the use of adjectives in creating a sense of place.

4. Group Work

   * In this section the students could appoint a scribe to record their ideas, or write out their own versions.
   * The students could be given blank 'cards' on which they could write the adjectives they used in large letters. These cards could then be used in extension activities.

5. Plenery Session

   * Groups share their best descriptions.
   * Ask the students to describe the classroom using imaginative adjectives.
   * Refer back to the Norse myth and the movement from chaos to order, find the links with the Yoruba myth.
   * Explain the role of myth in explaining the place and time in which people find themselves and is usually very           specific to a geographical area and race. Ask the students if they know any more stories about how the world became as it is.

6. Extension Activities

   * Students could research into other Creation Myths
   * Students could use adjective cards from the group work to play games where they have to create coherent           sentences using 1,2,3... adjectives drawn at random.  

The Norse Creation Myth

In the beginning there was nothing. Nothing but Ginnungagap, the emptiness. And the emptiness was filled with nothing.

The nothing swirled around Ginnungagap carving out above and carving out below. The nothing twisted and turned as it carved out east and carved out west. Then it turned north and the nothing cut into Ginnungagap and formed a land of ice and frost. The cold winds tumbled over each other as the land of Niflheim rose from the north of the emptiness.

To the South the nothing turned and sparked and flashed. Fire was forced from the emptiness and the land of flame that men and woman call Muspellheim rose from Ginnungagap.

Where fiery North met frozen South the frost began to melt. Great slabs of ice thawed until a salt sea lay between Niflheim and Muspellheim. On the surface of the water floated the sleeping giant Ymir, still frozen. On the shore a magic cow Auohumla had also formed. She fed the giant with her milk and licked him from head to foot enjoying the taste of the salty water. As the cow licked Ymir she warmed him. As life came into Ymir and the ice melted around his feet, from them sprung the cruel frost giants whose only pleasure was to destroy. The ice round his arm and shoulder melted and from it came Buri, the first of the gods. Buri had a son Borr who married Bestla. Buri and Bestla had three sons, Odin, Vili and Ve.

The new gods were afraid of Ymir and so they killed him as he lay in the thawing salt water. Ymir's body became Midgard or Middle Earth where men and women now live. Nearly all of the Frost Giants were drowned as the blood flowed from Ymir. This blood became the sea that surrounded Midgard, Ymir's hair the trees, and the rocks and mountains were made from his bones. The gods took Ymirs skull and lifted it up so that its inside made the dome of heaven. In the dome clouds made from Ymir's brain floated above Midgard and at night the sparks of Muspellsheim could be seen in the night sky.

When all was done and the gods had shaped Middle Earth, they walked on the land. As the sun was driven across the sky in his chariot, the gods looked at their work and realized that something was missing. They lifted two trees from the ground. Using the elder they made the first woman, Embla, and from the ash they made the first man, Aske.

Odin looked at the man and woman and breathed life into them and gave them souls. Vili set their minds to thought and their muscles to move. Ve moulded their faces; he gave their hands touch, their eyes sight, their noses smell and their tongues taste; finally to their mouths he gave speech.

And so it is told of how women and men received Middle Earth from the gods. Once the three brothers had completed their task, Odin, Vili and Ve created Asgard as a home for themselves and the gods that would come. To make sure that they would always be able to visit Midgard they created the rainbow bridge that for ever linked the world of the gods with the world of men and women.


The Elements of Creation Myth RJ Stewart ; Element 1989
Bulfinch's Mythology T Bulfinch ; Avenel 1978
Myths of the Norsemen R Lancelyn Green ; Penguin 1960
How the World Began ; Andrew Matthews ; Macdonald 1996
The World's Mythology Veronica Ions ; Hamlyn 1974
A Dictionary of Creation Myths Leeming & Leeming ; OUP 1994
A Creation Myth from the Yoruba People of Nigeria - 1

Before you read this story agree how you are going to pronounce these names:

   * Obatala -a god
   * Ife - the new land
   * Oluron - the chief of the gods

Is there someone in your class whose family comes from Nigeria who could help you?

1. At the start of time there was only sky above and watery marsh below. Then the god Obatala took a golden chain and tied it to a corner of the sky and then he began to climb down towards the marsh. On his back he carried a sack and in the sack were a snail shell, some iron, some white sand, a cockerel and a cat.

2 When he reached the end of the chain he held on tight with one hand, with the other he poured iron from the snail shell across the marsh beneath him. Then he poured the white sand over the iron and dropped the cockerel down on top of the sand.

3 The cockerel immediately began to scratch at the sand with its claws. It scratched and scratched until the sand had been spread wide. In the places where it was smooth there were plains and where the sand was piled up there were hills, Obatala dropped from the chain and stood on one of the hills and called the land Ife which means "wide".

4 For months he enjoyed walking through his new land. As he walked he dropped palm nuts on the ground and from the seeds grew trees and plants. However, after a while Obatala became lonely with only the cat for company so he used his hands to dig through the sand until he found clay. With the clay he shaped figures of people that looked like him. Then Obatala prayed hard and, hearing his prayer, Oluron the chief of the gods breathed life into the figures and they became women and men.

Independent Work:

  1. Read the story.
  2. Choose either this story or the Norse Creation Myth. Imagine the new land just after it had been created. Write a description of it as if you are walking through the land.

     If you have time
  3. Describe the differences between the new lands of the Yoruba and Norse myths.

Group Exercises:

  1. Read the story together, perhaps taking turns to read a paragraph.
  2. Look at paragraph 3. There are only two different adjectives in this passage. As a group, discuss what other adjectives you could use to describe the Obatala, the chain he climbs down, the cockerel and the landscape.
  3. Rewrite the paragraph with your new adjectives.

     If you have time
  4. Read the new paragraph out loud.
  5. What difference did the new adjectives make?
A Creation Myth from the Yoruba People of Nigeria - 2

Independent Work

1. Read this story. The adjectives are missing - you will find suggestions in the box at the bottom of the story. Fill in the gaps.

1. When the god Obatala made he land, he tipped iron out of a snail shell. Onto the metal he tipped ________ sand out of the shell. On top of the sand he put a ________ cockerel.

2 The cockerel started to scratch at the ________ sand with its feet. It scratched and scratched until the sand had been spread wide. Obatala stood on a ________ hill and called the ________ land Ife which means 'wide'.

3 He dropped ________ seeds on the ground and trees grew so that they were ________ and ________ Obatala enjoyed his land but soon he was lonely, so he dug some ________ clay from he ground and made dolls that looked like him. Obatala's father was chief of the gods and so when he breathed on the dolls they became women and men who were ________.

Alive     cold       soft      new     white      tall     young    strong   small    high

If you have time

2. Try to change the adjectives without changing the story. You don't have to use the describing words in the box.

Group Work

1. In your group discuss what the new land would look like. Each person in the group could draw a picture of the land and write one or two sentences about it.

If you have time

2. Take turns in the group to say sentences that describe a place - make sure that everyone uses adjectives. When you have said your sentence, tell the group which words were adjectives.