Weather mythology is a rich literary genre, with connections to science, critical thinking, and social studies.
Here are some of our favorite lesson plans:
Compare Thor and Zeus
Thor is the Thunder God in Norse mythology. He has a magic hammer, a magic belt, and a cart pulled by a pair of billy goats. The sound of his cart is thunder and the hooves of the goats create lightning. When Thor gets angry at trolls, he throws his hammer, which comes back to him like a boomerang. He has two strong sons and a strong wife, and they all enjoy loud feasts and parties. D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths contains several stories about Thor’s adventures.
Zeus was the top god in Greek mythology. He threw thunderbolts (lightning) as weapons. However, he wasn’t in charge of all the weather, since Aeolus saw to the winds and Poseidon was in charge of storms on the ocean. Zeus was, as chief among the gods, much more than a weather god. Jupiter was the Roman god comparable to Zeus, or the Latin name for Zeus. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths includes a lot of stories about Zeus.
Students often confuse these two guys, but as you can see, there are plenty of differences. Have students prepare a Venn diagram. Follow up by having two students play Zeus and Thor being interviewed by another student on their reaction to the way people mix them up.
Practice research skills by having students look at other thunder gods around the world. Wikipedia has a list of thunder gods that makes a great starting point for research. Divide the different deities among the students in the class and have them present oral reports. Discuss how the differences among the cultures leads to differences in their weather deities.
If your class won’t be completely disrupted by it, it would be fun to let students compete in their presentations to make their weather god seem like the most powerful one.
Compare Thor and — Thor
The movie Thor is based on the Marvel comics hero.The premise is that Thor, the Norse God, has been thrown out of Asgard, the home of the gods, for bad behavior. Set up your Venn diagrams and compare the Thor of Norse mythology with Thor in the Marvel Comics and Thor in the movie — or in the trailer clip below.
The movie contains violence, sexual content, alcohol use, and foul language, so the trailer may be a safer bet for the classroom. However, we find that many students have seen the movie.
Consider examining the visual elements of the movie and the comic books. Do they involve traditional Norse elements, or are they more like typical superheroes?
Myth and Science
The National Earth Science Teacher’s Association has a web page examining cross-cultural weather mythology. At their site, you can compare the mythology with the science facts. Have students create posters showing the weather deities on one side and the scientific explanation on the other.