Writing Tall Tales in the Classroom: A Thanksgiving Writing Activity

Writing Tall Tales in the Classroom: A Thanksgiving Writing Activity

A Thanksgiving writing lesson on Tall Tales. The perfect addition to any November writing unit for teachers.
Tall Tales are so much fun to write! Student’s creative writing skills come to life when they get the opportunity to stretch the truth because we all know children are full of humor and exaggeration! The best thing about tall tales is that they can be funny or silly. They are typically filled with hyperboles, similies, metaphors, and lots of descriptive vocabulary. Tall tales are always read or told as if they were true, even though the listener or reader knows that the story could never really happen – another reason children love writing and reading them!

Each year, during the month of November, I teach my 4th graders how to write Turkey Tall Tales.
This lesson is a lot of fun, and students love the end result! This mini-lesson is the perfect addition to any creative writing unit but is intended to be used as a Thanksgiving writing activity.

I start by introducing students to tall tales. I also read Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan. Students are usually familiar with these two books. You can also search YouTube to find animated tall tales for students. There are tons to choose from! After reading tall tales and watching a few animated YouTube stories, we discuss the characteristics of tall tales. To get started, I use Turkey Tall Tales – a writing mini-lesson on tall tales found here in my store.

Steps to Introducing Tall Tales: What are Tall Tales?

This mini-lesson comes with a two-page introduction to tall tales and their characteristics. Once you’ve familiarized students with tall tales, they can choose from 4 different story starters and you can distribute the planning sheets for students to start planning their turkey tall tales.

Writing: planning a Tall Tale using Thanksgiving Story Starters

On the planning sheet, students look at the prompt they have chosen and circle the matching turkey picture. This is what their main character looks like. After students have planned their story, they finish the story starter sheet by writing their tall tale. As students finish, I have them bring me their writing for us to edit together. After they make any needed corrections I give them their header and footer to color.

Creating a header and footer for Tall Tales

Distribute the header and footer that matches the turkey on their story starter and planning sheets.

At this point, students are ready to type their tall tale. This mini-lesson includes a direction page for students to use while typing their writing. All directions are aligned to Microsoft Word, but you could easily use Google Docs as well.

How to Type Tall Tales

Directions are given for how to format the margins and columns of their tall tale. Students will need to change their margins to narrow and set their document to print as three columns.

Formatting margins and columns of Tall Tales
The last step on the direction sheet is to print, cut apart columns, trim edges to the same width, and tape together (adding their header and footer). This makes one TALL tale!
How to Print L-O-N-G Tall Tales
Writing Tall Tales: A Thanksgiving Mini-Unit

Students love their finished product and reading all the other tall tales that students have written. It also makes an excellent November bulletin board or classroom display. 🙂

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