Anansi the Spider – Grade 2 – Weeks 1 and 2

This month I used the stories of Anansi for our Language Arts block. The Anansi spider stories are Jamaican folk tales that can probably be classified as trickster tales and animal fables. These stories were an unusual departure from the stories my second grader is used to hearing. Anansi might seem to be a hero at first, but we soon realize that he is not very heroic at all, but quite flawed and lazy. His stories are often comical, and sometimes he comes out on top, but often he suffers a consequence for his selfish behaviors.

I bought an old used copy of Anansi the Spider Man by Philip M. Sherlock. Although the cover of the book below looks a little babyish, the illustrations in the book are simple pen and ink. I also had a few more stories from Donna Simmon’s 2nd grade curriculum, but Anansi stories are found from many places on the internet and at the local library.

Anansi the Spider Man

We read a few stories a week from the book, and we illustrated one story each week. The first story was a fantastic tale called “From Tiger to Anansi”, and it explains how the stories became Anansi stories. I wrote a short version of Anansi and the Tiger Stories for my son and I to read together each day.

Second grader’s drawing of Anansi bringing Snake (tied to a bamboo pole) to Tiger.

Mom’s Anansi, Snake, and Tiger.

We also made a sound house this week (see the instructions for sound houses in Marsha Johnson’s files at waldorfhomeeducators).

The next story we illustrated was “How the Crab Got a Hard Back”. I got this story from Donna Simmons, but there is also a short version here: This story can be found in this book as well:

Indian Folk-tales

I wrote a version for daily reading practice too: Anansi and Crab.

My second grader’s drawing. Anansi tricks the crab by dressing as a girl, so we got to draw Anansi in a pink dress, pink bow, and pink shoes. Quite funny!

My Anansi and Crab.

For our painting lesson this week, I used a story in the Anansi the Spider Man book called “Bandalee”. It is a story of Anansi and Turtle.

Second grader’s Anansi and Turtle.

Mom’s Anansi and Turtle.

One of our form drawings was the race between Turtle and Anansi:

This entry was posted in Anansi, Grade 2, Language Arts, Watercolor Painting. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Anansi the Spider – Grade 2 – Weeks 1 and 2

  1. Rosemary says:

    Hello just so you know the story if Anansi the spider originated in Ghana West Africa. It is a folktale of the Ashanti tribe. Not from Jamaica. It later found it’s way there maybe through the slave trade.


    • Waldorf Mom says:

      Hello Rosemary,

      Thank you so much for pointing out the orgin of the Anansi stories. Yes, they are certainly from West Africa, but they have been adapted as part of the folklore of Jamaica as well. In the forward of the book that I used for this block the author (Philip Sherlock, who is from Jamaica) states: “In the region of the Caribbean, folklore is the blood stream of a spirited people. The inheritance is probably African in orgin, but it has become acclimated, deeply rooted in the exuberant liberality of a tropical landscape: sea, green mountain, jungle, and cloud-crowded sky.”

      Do you have any good sources for Anansi tales that are directly from Africa? My children still love Anansi, so it would be great to share more of his stories with them.


      • Rosemary says:

        Hi Teri,

        My family is from Ghana and my source isy father:). There are many stories about Ananse even from Ghana. There are many tribes in Ghana alone. Specifically Ananse originated in the Akan-Ashanti tribe. My tribe is the Akan-Akwapem tribe. Closely related. One of the stories I clearly remember is about the golden stool. It has been incorporated with Ananse but that one is straight from Ghana. Another is about Anase and his three daughters. Hopefully this helps some 🙂

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