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Exploring Tall Tales


15-20 Minutes

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  • Explore special traits of tall-tale characters

  • Recognize and create exaggerations

  • Pick a personal hero

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  • Paper or notebook

  • Pencil, pen, or other writing tool



We’re thinking about

the question: 

"How can we celebrate our everyday heroes?”

Your challenge this week is to create a “Tall-Tale Trading Card” that describes the special traits and talents of your personal hero.

Let's Get Started!



Look at this postcard. 

Ask yourself:

  • What’s going on here?

  • What seems real?

  • What seems fake?  

People used to send postcards like the one above for fun! The pictures were not real, but they told a good story… like the story of a corncob so big that it took a cart to move it! 


These were called tall-tale postcards.


Tall tales are stories where the people seem much bigger, stronger, or smarter than they really are. The stories are exaggerated.  


tall tale:


a story about larger-than-life people and events



made to seem bigger or greater than it is

Paul Bunyan Statue in Bangor, Maine image from Wikipedia


This picture shows a statue of a tall-tale character.

  • What’s something you notice about it?

  • How would you describe the person in it? 

The man in the statue is Paul Bunyan. He is a tall-tale character. 


Paul Bunyan was a lumberjack. Lumberjacks cut down trees so that towns and farms could be created.

"Disney’s Paul Bunyan (1937)" video

Here is a short video that shares some tall tales about Paul Bunyan. 

When you watch the video, look and listen for things Paul Bunyan does that would be impossible for most people. See if you notice Paul doing these things:

  • Clearing many trees with one swing of his axe

  • Pushing stumps into the ground with his feet

  • Moving the big blue ox by himself

These impossible parts of the story are called exaggerations.

Watch the video and see these exaggerations for yourself!

The story above made Paul Bunyan seem like a superhero!

Being strong was an important trait for lumberjacks like Paul Bunyan who had to cut down big trees in the forest.




a quality that makes one person different from another


Your challenge this week: Create a “Tall-Tale Trading Card” that describes the special talents and traits of a real-life hero. Today, you're going to choose your hero!



A trading card – like this one of Paul Bunyan – usually contains a picture of a person with some important facts about them.


People often collect or trade these cards with other people.

The trading card you create will describe a real-life hero. This might be a person in your own family, your community, or anywhere in the world. 



Think about:

  • Who are the heroes in your life? 

  • What makes them special? What trait or talent do you admire about them? 

    • Are they strong like Paul Bunyan?

    • Do they have a skill or talent?

    • Is there something else special about them, like kindness or courage?


You're going to:



  • Make a list of three people that you think are heroes in your life.

  • Include an important trait or talent for each person.  



  • Choose one of the heroes from your list.

  • Practice talking about your hero in an exaggerated way. 

  • Need help? Look at the example below. Notice how each sentence about Paul Bunyan is a bigger exaggeration! Can you do the same with your hero?

    • 1st try: Paul Bunyan is so strong he can cut down a forest by himself.

    • 2nd try: Paul Bunyan is so strong he can clear a forest with one swing of his axe.

    • 3rd try: Paul Bunyan is so strong he can clear a whole forest with one swing of his axe, or sometimes with just a sneeze! 

Ready for Day 2?

On day 2, you will investigate what makes a story into a tall tale, then create a plan for your “Tall-Tale Trading Card.”

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