Personal Tall Tales

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 your child identify elements of a tall tale – exaggeration, humor and a rival.
  3. Who does your child know that would make a good tall tale hero? Perhaps they know a pilot or a police officer. Do they know someone who works harder or faster than other people? Do they know someone extremely strong or courageous?
  4. Once your child has picked someone, have them write something factual about this person.
  5. Add exaggeration – how can your child make the feat bigger or the challenge scarier?
  6. Can your child 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 your child is done, help them create a book to give their own larger-than-life hero a completed story.

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