1. Using the websites below, and others as may be useful, ask students to select a "hero," male or female, and research that person, looking for reasons why he or she might have become a "legend." Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, John Henry, Calamity Jane, "Stagecoach Mary," and others are some examples.
2. Ask students how they know these stories are not true. Develop a list of characteristics of tall tales:
- The hero is larger than life, superhuman;
- The hero has a specific job to do;
- A problem is solved in a funny way;
- Details are exaggerated and things are greater than they really are;
- The characters use everyday language
3. Have students develop their own “tall tale” and illustrate it.
Heroes and Legends of the 19th century
Women Heroes and Legends of the 19th century
This lesson was developed by Bette Brooks, Kent State University.