The greenest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so's he knew ev'ry tree
Kilt him a b'ar when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier
from: “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”
Lyrics by Tom Blackburn
Music by George Bruns
In the elementary Montessori classroom, children are surrounded by literature – both fiction and non-fiction. Good literature and good story telling encourage students to use their imaginations and further their creative writing skills. Because of this, it is important to expose elementary students to a wide variety of different literary genres. Elementary age students enjoy reading and listening to many types of literature. One genre elementary age students particularly enjoy is the tall tale.
A tall tale is an adventure story about a larger-than-life character. The character, based on a real person or purely fictional, performs extraordinary feats of strength, courage, daring, or intelligence. Children like tall tales because they are often humorous and because they attempt to explain a larger-than-life phenomenon. They want to think that they are capable of great feats and are always on the look-out for adventure.
Tall Tales Activities for the Montessori Elementary ClassroomTall Tales in North America started during the 1800s as a way to explain and understand the greatness of the North American west. The characters in the stories became heroes and heroines with their exploits passed down orally from pioneer to pioneer as a way to deal with the harsh realities of huge mountain ranges, vast prairies, and wild animals. Told from the first person point of view, the listener felt like the storyteller had actually witnessed these events.
Hearing about tales of heroic Americans (Davy Crockert, Johnny ‘Appleseed’ Chapman, Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe, Annie Oakely) and Canadians Big Joe Montferrand [Mufferaw], Ti-Jean, Johnny Chinook, help students learn about the history of their country through the eyes of historical storytellers. In some cases, these tall tales have been put into poems or songs, which can be a fun way to explore them as well.
Here are a few ways to expand your study of tall tales in your Montessori classroom:
- Write, act, or sing a song about your own tall tale
- Interview a tall tale character for a newspaper or news broadcast
- Illustrate a tall tale comic strip
- Read about a real tale hero/heroine and compare and contrast the real person and their literary character
- Have a “Dress as Your Favorite Tall Tale Character Day”
- Complete a tall tale webquest:
- For more information for teachers:
http://42explore.com/talltale.htm (includes more webquest links)
- Cut From the Same Cloth: American Women of Myth, Legend & Tall Tale, by Robert San Souci (each tale features a woman as the main character)
- American Tall Tales, by Mary Pope Osborne
- From Sea to Shining Sea compiled, by Amy Cohn
- Ripsnorting Whoppers: Humor from the American Heartland, by Rick Sowash
- Folklore of Canada: Tall Tales, Stories, Rhymes and Jokes from Every Corner of Canada, by Edith Fowke
- Johnny Chinook : Tall Tales and True from the Canadian West, by Robert E. Gard
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, November 16, 2010.