Personal Tall Tales Activity

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Updated on Aug 16, 2012

Tall tale heroes, such as Davy Crockett and John Henry, are often based on real people. Help your child write his own tale based on someone he personally knows. He will learn how story elements work together as he gives some thought to an amazing person in his life.

What You Need:

  • Paper
  • Pencil

What You Do:

  1. Start this activity by reading your child several tall tales based on the lives of real people. You can find several at American Folklore.
  2. As you read, explain that these stories are about real people, but that the people who told the stories added to them and the stories became tall tales. Help him identify elements of a tall tale – exaggeration, humor and a rival.
  3. Who does he know that would make a good tall tale hero? Perhaps he knows a pilot or a police officer. Does he know someone who works harder or faster than other people? Does he know someone extremely strong or courageous?
  4. Once he has picked someone, have him write something factual about this person.
  5. Add exaggeration – how can he make the feat bigger or the challenge scarier?
  6. Can he add humor? One way to do this is to exaggerate. Also consider physical humor such as something messy. You can also change details. What if your cowboy rode a pig instead of a horse?
  7. Who is the hero’s adversary? Who is it that messes things up for him again and again? Make this person larger than life too. Finally, how does your hero triumph?

When he’s done, help him create a book to give his own larger-than-life hero.