I love teaching my students about pourquoi tales because not only are they fun to read, but the kids love writing their own! “Pourquoi” is French for “why” and pourquoi tales tell how or why something came to be (ex: why tigers have stripes, or why penguins can’t fly). I start off by incorporating other languages my students speak and having them guess the meaning of “pourquoi.” I usually have a few Spanish speakers who know that “por qué” means “why” in Spanish, and are able to guess the meaning of the similar French word! Then if any of my students speak other languages, I have them share how to say “why” in that language!
After we read a couple pourquoi tales and discuss their key elements, I pass out copies of our animal magazines (I get a copy of Zoonooz every month as part of my San Diego Zoo membership), and the students start thinking of animals that they may want to write a pourquoi tale about, paying attention to the specific features of different animals.
Why Hammerhead harks have flat heads Why zebras have black and white stripes
Why lions have manes
Why polar bears are white
Why cheetahs have spots Why flamingos are pink
When I stapled their stories up to the bulletin board, I wanted to make sure that people could read them, so I only stapled the back page. Well of course, then all the other pages kept hanging down and it didn’t look so pretty! Solution… paper clips!!! I paper clipped the front pages to the back page and now they stay up perfectly! Anytime someone wants to read one of the pourquoi tales they just have to remove the paper clip, and then put it pack when they are done!
Click on the picture to get the Elements of Pourquoi Tales organizer:
Here are some great pourquoi tales that you can add to your classroom library!