Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters - Mapping the Story

Author: Katie Shea

Grade Level: Early Elementary

*This can be done in two days.  Have students illustrate cards one day and map the next.*


  1. After hearing Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, students will be able to create a story map.
  2. Students will be able to identify that Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters takes place in Africa.

Materials Needed:

  1. Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe, Lothrop, Lee and Shepard books, New York, 1987(ISBN 0- 688- 04045-4)
  2. 11x17 sheet of construction paper for each student
  3. Glue, crayons, markers, scissors
  4. Sheet of paper divided into 15 squares each square labeled with one of the following: Village, City, Palace, Forest, Garden, Nyasha, Manyara, Mufaro, Myoka, Hungry Boy, Old Woman, King, Messenger, Laughing Trees, Man with Head.


  1. Introduce folktales and Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by saying the following: "Folktales are stories that are heard and remembered.  They are passed from one generation to another by word of mouth.  Can you think of any folktales you have heard?  Today we will read Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters.  It is an African folktale.  See if it reminds you of a folktale you might know (Cinderella).  The illustrations in this book were inspired by the ruins and the flowers of an ancient city in Zimbabwe.  Zimbabwe is in South Africa."
  2. Show the students where Zimbabwe is on a map of Africa.
  3. Continue. "The names of the characters in this folktale are from the Shona language and mean the following: Mufaro (moo-FAR-on) means "happy man" Nyasha (ne-AH-sha) means "mercy," Manyara (mahn-YAR-ah) means "ashamed," and Myoka (nee-YO-kah) means "snake."  Today we will be making a story map.  "Who can tell me what they think a story map is?"  Wait for responses. "A story map helps us remember the story.  It also helps us keep track of the story in our heads. You will need to listen very closely to the story and try to picture it in your head.  We will be drawing some of the people in the story so pay attention to the details.  As we read the story, notice things in the pictures and words that help you identify this folktale is from Africa.  I will read the story the first time so we can enjoy it.  We will then work on our maps."
  4. Read the story out loud to the class one time for enjoyment.
  5. Discuss what clues they saw in the pictures and heard in the words that helped them realize that this tale was from Africa.  "How is it different from where we live?  How is it the same?  What story does this remind you of?"
  6. Pass out the divided and labeled paper.  Discuss what goes in each square.  Have students draw a picture in each square.  Have the students cut out the squares when finished.
  7. Pass out plain construction paper.  On one side of the paper have students write one clue they found that helped them figure out this tale was from Africa.  Have the students turn the paper over. Read the first page aloud to the class.  Have students describe places mentioned.  Have students draw the river on their paper.  Discuss the placement of the river, village and city.  Have students glue the village, and city on the page.
  8. Have students pull out the place cards (Village, City, Palace, Forest, and Garden).  Discuss the placement of each and have students place them accordingly. Check for accuracy before students glue them in place.
  9. As you read the story, have the students follow along by placing or moving the character cards along their map.  (Option: Do a large map in front of the class as students do map at their desks.)
  10. After you have finished the story, have students pick their favorite event and glue the characters on their maps to represent that part.  Display maps on a bulletin board entitled, "The African Cinderella Story."


  1. Students will have placed the following cards appropriately (in reference to each other): African Village, City, Garden, Forest, and Palace.
  2. Students will have an appropriate clue on the back of their storymap.

Additional History


Return to Africa Table of Contents.

Adapted from a lesson in Thematic Unit - Multicultural Folk Tales 1992 Teacher Created Materials, Inc. Hunting Beach, Ca. By David Jefferies.