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Everything Under the Sun

The changing face of the sun: How do the qualities of the sun change from season to season where you live? Design two masks, representing the winter sun and the summer sun. How do your designs reflect the seasonal differences? Make up a skit that explains how those differences came to be.  

Our corner of the cosmos: Research current scientific understanding of the sun’s relationship to the earth, moon, planets, and stars. Let what you learn inspire a decorative design for a rain poncho or an umbrella. In what ways is your design accurate? In what ways have you taken liberties for the sake of design?  

Picturing the sun: Artists can emphasize different aspects of the sun. Use Art Collector to see and compare various ways in which artists treat the sun. (Click here to learn more about Art Collector.) Which artists seem to have been thinking about the color of the sun? the shape of the sun? the feeling of sunlight? the sun's symbolism? stories about the sun? feelings about the sun? Drag the slides to sort the works into categories. Add a description to label your categories. You may wish to duplicate a slide to add an image to more than one category. You can also compare two works of art using the compare and contrast funtion to have two works of art on the same slide.  

The sun around the world: Many cultures besides those mentioned here have stories about the sun. Look at some of the books listed in the bibliography below. How do the stories reflect the climate and environment of the places where they originated? Do the illustrators of the books seem to have considered that information in creating their illustrations?  

Stories about the sun: All titles are owned by the Minneapolis Public Library.

Ada, Alma Flor. The Lizard and the Sun. New York: A Doubleday Book for Young Readers, 1997.
A traditional Mexican folktale in which a faithful lizard finds the sun, which brings light and warmth back to the world. In English and Spanish.

Albert, Burton. Journey of the Nightly Jaguar: Inspired by an Ancient Mayan Myth. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1996.
In this Maya legend the sun becomes a jaguar at night, stalking through the jungle until it appears again as the sun in the eastern sky.

Bevan, Finn. Sacred Skies: The Facts and the Fables. London and New York: Children’s Press, 1997.
Discusses how people throughout the ages explained the sun and other phenomena of the skies and presents several traditional tales from around the world that embody those beliefs and observations.

Bishop, Gavin. Maui and the Sun: A Maori Tale. New York: North-South Books, 1996.
The Maori people of New Zealand tell this version of the Polynesian folktale in which a trickster uses magical powers to slow the movement of the sun.

Emberley, Michael. Welcome Back Sun. Boston: Little, Brown, 1993.
During “murketiden,” the dark months between September and March, a Norwegian girl and her family try to hasten the arrival of spring.

Johnson, Charles, ed. The Beginning of the World: The Sun and the Moon. St. Paul, Minn.: Macalester College, Linguistics Department, 1981.
A Hmong folktale retold in English for beginner ESL.

Keams, Geri. Grandmother Spider Brings the Sun: A Cherokee Story. Flagstaff, Ariz.: Northland Publishing, Rising Moon, 1995.
After Possum and Buzzard fail in their attempts to steal a piece of the sun, Grandmother Spider succeeds in bringing light to the animals on her side of the world.

Lilly, Melinda. Song of the Sun: An Aztec Myth. Vero Beach, Fla.: Rourke Press, 1999.
Eagle Warrior tries to find a way to free his fellow musicians who have been captured by the jealous Sun because they have honored only the Spirit of Night.

McDermott, Gerald. Arrow to the Sun: A Pueblo Indian Tale. 1974. New York: Viking Press, 2004.
An adaptation of the Pueblo Indian myth which explains how the spirit of the Lord of the Sun was brought to the world of men.

———. Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest. San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993.
Raven, a Pacific Coast Indian trickster, sets out to find the sun.

Neitzel, Shirley. From the Land of the White Birch. Spring Lake, Mich.: River Road Publications, 1997.
A collection of three Ojibwe legends, including “The Sun Snarer.”

Wolkstein, Diane. The Day Ocean Came to Visit. San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt, 2001.
After hearing Ocean’s stories, Sun invites Ocean to the house he shares with his wife, Moon, but his visitor proves to be more than his house can hold.

———. Sun Mother Wakes the World: An Australian Creation Story. New York: Harper Collins, 2004.
An Aboriginal creation story in which the sun slowly brings life to the earth.  

May 2005