The Raven: Creator of the Universe?
Procedures for Teachers


Activity One

The purpose of this activity is for students to activate their background knowledge of ravens.

1. Involve students in a class discussion about ravens. Elicit personal perceptions and encounters with ravens.

2. Read and discuss how the raven is portrayed in the following quotation from BEOWULF:

“… but the black raven, eager for the doomed ones, as he shall say much to the eagle of what success he had at feeding, when he, with the wolf, plundered the corpses.”

3. Generate a list of words that could be used to describe the raven in the BEOWULF quotation.

4. Read and discuss how the raven is portrayed in “The Man and the Ravens” myth from this site (access the site, then select “Stories” from the menu on the left, then “Raven Stories” from the menu that appears):

5. Generate a list of words that could be used to describe the raven in “The Man and the Ravens” myth.

6. Compare and contrast how the raven is portrayed in the BEOWULF quotation and the myth.

7. Find examples from the RAVENS program that illustrate the dichotomy in which ravens are perceived.


Activity One

The purpose of this activity is for students to build on their basic knowledge of ravens by collecting facts, artwork, photos, and anecdotes about ravens.

1. Break students into small groups and send them on a scavenger hunt to find information on ravens.

2. Information should be collected for these categories:

  • Create a raven attribute chart including the following:  
    • Where ravens live  
    • What ravens eat 
    • Physical characteristics 
    • Particular characteristics useful for a raven’s survival
  • Works of art containing ravens
  • Photos of ravens
  • Raven anecdotes

3. Encourage students to use a variety of resources. These sources might include the RAVENS program, books, magazines, personal stories, and Internet sources. The following sites are a good place to begin Internet research:

4.  Provide time for students to select information from each category and share it with the class.

Activity Two

The purpose of this activity is for students to use the knowledge acquired in Activity One to convince a person to change his negative opinion of ravens.

1. Read the following quotes and discuss how ravens were portrayed by William Shakespeare:

  • In Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth,” the raven “croaks the evil entrance.”
  • In the play “Othello,” Shakespeare writes that the raven flies “o’er the infected house.”

2. Tell the students that William Shakespeare is going to visit their class, and they will be presented with an opportunity to convince William Shakespeare to change the way he portrays the raven in his writings.

3. Working in the same small groups from Activity One, ask students to complete the following activities:

A. Choose one of these activities:


  • Write a poem about the raven and copy it onto a piece of poster board
  • Create a work of art featuring the raven (example poster, mural, sculpture, etc.)

B. Choose one of these activities:


  • Write a short story about a raven’s antics from the raven’s point of view
  • Write a skit about a raven

C. All groups must complete this activity


  • Write an impassioned plea to Shakespeare that explains why he has been wrong in his portrayal of the raven

William Shakespeare Day

4. Invite an adult to visit the class to pretend to be Shakespeare. (Teacher’s Note: If you can’t find a willing adult, you may choose to be Shakespeare.)

5. Ask each group to display its artwork or poetry around the classroom.

6. Provide time for each group to present its activity and to read its plea.

7. After all of the groups have presented, ask Shakespeare to respond to their plea.

8. As a homework assignment, ask students to rewrite the two Shakespeare lines in a way that is more flattering to the raven.


Continue to expand your knowledge of ravens. Visit “The Raven Archive” site and select a book to read. (Your school or local librarian may be able to help you locate the book.)

This site contains a comprehensive bibliography of biological and mythological books on the raven:

Inside This Lesson

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