Annie and the Old One

Book by Miska Miles

Lesson plan by Pohai Kukea


My students were engaged in a research project on Native Americans, specifically of the Navajo tribe. In order to peak their interest and also get them to do some higher level thinking, I decided to introduce a fictional Navajo story called Annie and the Old One, by Miska Miles. I looked for books on the Internet that were approved by Native American groups and did not perpetuate negative stereotypes and Annie and the Old One got a stamp of approval. The only concern was about calling Annie's grandmother "The Old One". So while the title had that phrase, I changed the language throughout the book to "grandmother" and had a discussion with my students about what they call their grandparents. My goal for this lesson was for my students to use the generalizations they make about Navajo culture, based on the book, in their research. I also wanted them to recognize that research about a culture can be done through many different genres, not only non-fiction.


1. Students will be able to verbally summarize the main points of the story, Annie and the Old One.

2. Students will be able to make generalizations about Navajo culture based on reading Annie and the Old One.

Standards covered

1. Read a range of literary and informative texts for a variety of purposes.

  • Read to research a topic.
  • Read for literary experience and to develop aesthetic appreciation.

2. Use strategies within the reading processes to construct meaning.

  • Infer ideas from text.

Teaching Procedures

1. Focusing event - Show students the book and have a short discussion about what they have already learned about the Navajo tribe from their research. Read the title of the book and have them predict who they think "The Old One" is. When students figure out that it's a grandparent, ask them to share what they call their grandparents. Talk about grandparents and how important they are to us.

2. Read aloud Annie and the Old One.

3. Have a class discussion about the main points of the book, using the following guiding questions:

  • Did we figure out who is "The Old One"? Who is the Old One and how does Annie feel about her?
  • What did Annie's grandmother want her to learn how to do? Why?
  • What was going to happen after the rug that Annie's mom was making was finished? How did Annie feel about this? Why do you think she felt that way?
  • What was Annie's problem? How did she solve it?
  • What kinds of things did she do to make sure that her mother couldn't finish the rug? Why do you think Annie did that?
  • What made Annie finally realize that the rug had to be finished? What did she do?
  • How would you feel if you were Annie? Have you ever had someone close to you pass away?

4. Let the class know that there are a lot of things that can be learned about Navajo culture from reading books like this. Ask the students questions about things that relate to their research and what they already know about Navajo culture from their research and make a web of their responses. Some guiding questions:

  • What kind of house did Annie live in?
  • What kinds of crops did Annie and her family grow? What other kinds of things did they eat in the story?
  • What kinds of different arts and crafts did Annie's family do? How did Annie learn how to do those crafts?
  • What kind of environment did Annie and her family live in?
  • How did Annie and her family treat her grandmother?
  • What did Annie's grandmother believe was going to happen to her when she passed away?
  • What does this tell us about what Navajo people believe in?

5. At the end of the discussion, let the students know that they can use the information that they learned from the reading of this book to help them with their research. Have a short discussion about the accuracy of what we've read and checking the information that we learned here with the information they read about in the research to make sure that it's accurate.


1. Class discussion about the main points of the story.

2. Class-created web of different aspects of Navajo culture learned from the story.

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