Ten Terrific Reasons to Teach Tall Tale Writing to Teens

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This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Ten Terrific Reasons to Teach Tall Tale Writing to Teens.

Top Ten Reasons to Teach Tall Tale Writing to Teens

Ten Terrific Reasons to Teach Tall Tale Writing to Teens

Why shouldn’t high school writing assignments be fun? Let’s have fun with tall tales!

Vicki was raised in Texas back in the olden days. In those early days of television there wasn’t much to watch. So in the evenings, neighbors would join together in the backyard. The kids would chase lightening bugs, watch the jack rabbits and listen to the grownups tell tall tales. Tall tales about Pecos Bill, mostly (being Texas and Pecos Bill was Texan, of course) but also, Paul Bunyan, John Henry and larger than life characters.

So Vicki grew up loving tall tales and taught them to her kids, then to our co-ops and homeschool group classes. We told the tales AND then made up our own tall tale characters and stories. Vicki thinks teaching tall tales to teens is a terrific idea!

Here are ten terrific reasons for teaching tall tale writing to your homeschool high schoolers:

Teens will thank you for this!

Tall tale writing is a great tie-in to your American History studies

Tall tale writing and reading brings to life the culture and traditions of the Old West. Check out a book on tall tales at the library or choose some stories from this website:

American Folklore

Or some classic YouTubes:

There’s a movie tie-in

Have you ever seen the movie Tall Tale? It’s a fun movie that features some favorite tall-tale characters: Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, John Henry. Log a few fun, inspirational hours for your American History class by:

  • Watching the movie Tall Tale
  • Wiscussing the larger-than-life characters
  • Discussing the “Code of the West” (Should we modern Americans have some sort of “Code”, ourselves?)

Teens need to know the original superheroes: the tall tale heros

Pecos Bill was a cowboy who rode a tornado and a huge black horse named Widowmaker. He could shoot the trigger fingers off the bad guys so they couldn’t harm the local citizens! He was rough and tough and always good.

Paul Bunyan was a lumberjack. He had a HUGE blue ox named Babe. He could eat pancakes so big that the griddle required buttering by other lumberjacks with huge butter pats tied onto their feet. They’d ice skate around the griddle to get it ready for pancake batter. He was NO nonsense but very good.

John Henry worked the building railroads. He was a mighty steel driver with a huge and mighty hammer. No one could hold a candle to his strength and speed! He was honest and unstoppable.

These original American heroes were the role models for our American superheroes like Superman, Spiderman, Black Panther and all the Marvel gang. They are strong and good and look out for others.

Tall tales help teens understand our American cultural roots

Tall tale heroes are a sort of American archetype: fictional larger than life versions of ourselves. We Americans want to see ourselves as:

  • Good
  • Brave
  • Standing up for the little guy
  • Doing what is honorable and right

This is exactly what the tall tale characters were (along with being silly and sometimes foolish). When we go back and study and respect these original American icons, it helps us decide how we want to live out these American values. It is an excellent discussion for teens, co-ops and homeschool group classes. How do we as individuals live out American ideals such as goodness, bravery, standing up for the little guy, acting honorably and righteously?

Tall tales are fun to hear and write. #7SistersHomeschool #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast #TallTales

Writing tall tales is a good creative writing project for teens

While there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school, we 7Sisters have guided our teens to have four kinds of writing each year:

  • Essays
  • Research Papers
  • Short stories (creative writing)
  • Poetry (creative writing)

One of the most fun and useful kinds of short story writing assignments is tall tales! Tall tale writing is a fantastic way to write a short story because you can’t really do it wrong. No matter how silly it might be, it fits the genre (I mean, really, who rides a tornado- how silly! If it’s good enough for Pecos Bill, it will work for your teens).

Writing tall tales is fun to do individually and even more fun in a group!

Check out these posts that give terrific tips for tall tale writing in your homeschool co-op or group classes.

Writing tall tales is easy because 7Sisters has a step-by-step curriculum that teens love

Check out 7Sisters popular Tall Tale Writing Guide which gives daily assignments for writing a terrific, true-to-form tall tale! Each lesson is fun and non-threatening and builds writing success skills.

Teens tell us they feel so encouraged when they finish their tall tale

Over and over through the years, teens who were intimidated by writing (especially creative writing) have told us that when they finished their Tall Tales Writing Guide, they felt SO excited. They didn’t know they were creative writers, but once it was non-threatening and fun, their creative souls were unleashed. Tall tale writing has been such a confidence booster for many teens!

Tall tale studying and writing can become a tradition that your teens can pass onto their kids someday

Part of the wonder of tall tales is the passing down of stories from generation to generation. Perhaps your teens will tell their kids about Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, John Henry and the Code of the West…and maybe their OWN tall tales!

Join Vicki for a quick and fun chat about Tall Tales and Teens!


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Ten Terrific Reasons to Teach Tall Tale Writing to Teens


  1. I am so glad you are encouraging teens to write tall tales, and exposing them to characters such as John Henry. I am a musician. I’ve taught private piano for over 30 years, and I also taught music in the public schools for twelve years. It’s disappointing and distressing to me that folk songs are disappearing from both the school curriculum and routines. They are such a wonderful tool, for so many reasons including language acquisition, pattern recognition, cultural perspective, joy of singing together, sparking the imagination. I have fond memories of reading and telling tall tales when I was young, and I think they provide similar benefits.

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