There are so many different types of children’s literature. It can be hard to distinguish between them and what books are from what type of literature. Do you know what category Johnny Appleseed falls under or The Tortoise and the Hare?
If I weren’t an English major, I would have a difficult time with this very thing. Learn the differences between what a tall tale is and what a fable is; these free printables about tall tales and fables will help you teach them both.
What is Folklore?
Fairy tales, fables, tall tales, and folktales – they are all similar in some ways. All of these types of stories fall under or are a sub-genre to what we know as folklore.
Basically, folklore is a type of story passed down orally from person to person. They share many common themes. One common thing between them, if you haven’t noticed, is that they have no author – at all.
What is a tall tale?
A tall tale is a unique hero story where the hero or main character has a “larger than life” persona. It is an exaggeration and an unreliable narrative. The tall tales can be of real-life events that are ordinary but then be made as fantastic and grandiose.
Tall tales became famous around the 1800s in America. It was around the time that the Americas hadn’t been settled by the Europeans yet. American frontiersmen would sit around campfires at night to tell tales of amazing heroes in wildlands/the Wild West.
The stories were said to be told over and over until the stories got so big that they were utterly implausible. Yup! They were too incredible.
Examples of tall tales are the stories of the gigantic Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, John Henry, and Johnny Appleseed.
What is a fable?
Fables tales are short symbolic or metaphoric stories that teach lessons or have a moral point to show the reader. The characters are usually personified animals with prominent characteristics that speak and act like humans.
A fable is most similar to a myth, except the fable teaches a lesson and is cleverly written to do just that. This genre may be most familiar to your kids. Maybe it is because we teach character building through them.
Examples of fables are Aesop’s Fables (The Fox and the Grapes, The Lion and the Mouse, The Wolf and the Crane, and more), The Tortoise and the Hare, The Fox and the Crow, and The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
Why teach fables and tall tales in your homeschool?
I could be biased because I love literature. Of course, I think it’s important to teach both tall tales and fables to our children. Both help kids learn about culture, appreciate tradition, help kids to learn to love stories and storytelling.
It is easy to understand why fables should be told to our children. Fables do all of the above and model good moral character or teach our children how to develop it. They teach about how humans can fall short. They are simple for kids to read and understand.
Teaching about Tall Tales
But why teach tall tales? Don’t we spend a lot of our time teaching kids NOT to tell tall tales, not to lie?
Well, tall tales do have a place in our literature journey at home. Tall tales are fun, simple for kids to read, and spark critical thinking skills just like fables. Kids learn to respond to tall tales and write about some of their own. Tall tales combine fact and fiction; they describe a hero’s character and can encourage your young ones not to give up.
Free Printables about Tall Tales and Fables
Browse through this long list of free printable worksheets on tall tales and fables. Then, discover some fun activities to do with your kids while learning these stories.
Printable Free Template to Write a Tall Tale – First, read a few tall tales then your students can write some of their own. Read and learn all about tall tales with your family homeschool.
Tall Tales Word Search – Grab this fun free tall tales Word Search to go alongside your unit study and lessons on tall tales. Use this free resource with search words like Davy Crockett, Folk Hero, Calamity Jane, American Frontier, Literature, Blackbeard, and more.
Tall Tale Characteristics Charts – These characteristics charts will help kids take note of the characters in a tall tale. Kids will learn to focus on the main character, exaggeration, conflict, and more.
Folktale /Tall Tale Anchor Charts – Anchor charts are a study tool to help kids comprehend what they are reading. Use this anchor chart to help your students understanding their tall tales.
Tall Tales Notebooking Pages – Download these tall tale notebooking pages to help your readers stay engaged with the texts. This resource comes with blank spaces and primary lines for your students.
Teaching Tall Tales for Free – If you are unsure exactly how to teach tall tales, then this resource can help. Use these 8 free downloadable worksheets to help kids write and comprehend tall tales.
Free Tall Tale Resources – Filk tale heroes are fun to learn about. Use this printable resource to learn about Johnny Appleseed, Annie Oakley, John Henry, Paul Bunyan, and Davy Crockett.
Tall Tale FREE Wheel – This crafty tall tale wheel activity will help your kids to respond to the tall tales they are reading. Help kids write down their favorite parts, setting, main idea, and exaggerations.
CKLA Free Tall Tales Exaggeration Extension – Your kids will enjoy discussion about all the types of exaggerations in tall tales. This 3-page resource provides plenty of space for writing.
Free Printables on Tall Tales in Literature
Paul Bunyan Reading Lesson on Hyperbole and Pop-up Book – This printable mini-book teaches kids about Paul Bunyan and hyperbole. It even provides a template for them to create their own pop-up book of Paul Bunyan.
Paul Bunyan Free Worksheet – This free Paul Bunyan worksheet will help boost reading comprehension. Additionally, it will provide kids with practice on learning facts from fiction.
Tall Tale Annie Oakley – Annie Oakley is known for becoming one of America’s best sharpshooters who starred in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. This free mini-book has an anchor chart, space for writing, a cut & paste definitions activity, vocabulary cards, and more.
Pecos Bill Free Worksheet – Have you heard of Pecos Bill? Part of American folklore, Pecos Bill is known for making a lasso so big that it circled the whole earth. Check out this worksheet to help you with what was true and false in the story.
John Henry Tall Tale Free Worksheet – John Henry was known as the strongest, the fastest, and the most powerful man working on the railroad in the 1870s. Grab this freebie to learn which parts of his tale were fact and which fiction.
Free Davy Crockett Readers Theater Tall Tales (Twisted)-Davy Crockpot-Grades 3-6 – Every time I see the name Davy Crockett, I can hear the show’s theme song in my head. Grab this 9-page excerpt from a literature toolkit to help kids read about this infamous American Folklore Character.
Johnny Appleseed Story Free Worksheet – Johnny Appleseed or John Chapman, was known for making great contributions to westward expansion in the 19th century. Is his tale fact or fiction? Let your kids explore which it is.
Free Printables About Fables
Write Your Own Fable – The end goal for lessons on tall tales is for kids to be able to write their very own. Use this free graphic organizer to help your kids self-author their own tall tale at home.
Fables Free Multiple Choice Test (Determining Theme) – Of course, we can read and write tall tales. This study tool will help kids test their knowledge of tall tales as well.
Free Aesop’s Fables Lapbook Set – If you have Aesop’s Fables at home, then you will not want to miss these free Aesop’s Fables Notebook Printables. They will go great as a study tool alongside your lessons.
Various Fable Freebies – These comprehension worksheets go with the fables The Lion and the Mouse, The Tortoise and the Hare, and The Princess and the Pea. This pack is 6-pages to use with your fables unit.
Aesop’s Fables ~ Graphic Organizers for 11 Different Fables – These 100 graphic organizers will help your students to discuss character traits, conflict, and morals from the tall tales. This resource includes discussion for The Grasshopper and the Ant, The Miller and the Donkey, The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf, and 8 more.
Aesop’s Fables Collection (Free Worksheets) – These worksheets contain the tall tale fable and questions to answer at the bottom of each page. Then, kids can use the graphic organizer to write their own fable.
Free Printables on Fables in Literature
Aesop Fables Worksheets Packet: Belling The Cat Free Printables – Kids really enjoy the book of Aesop’s Fables. The best thing is the moral of the story at the end. Check out this Belling the Cat free activity packet.
Classic Literature: Aesop’s The Fox and the Stork – This is a great addition to your tall tale lessons. Grab this Fox and the Stork reading comprehension activity which explores vocabulary words, main ideas, and more.
Fable Freebie: The Ant and the Grasshopper – This reading study tool has a 2 -page version of The Any and the Grasshopper tale. It also includes a vocabulary anticipation guide to go alongside the 2-pager.
Free Language Arts Lesson – “Fable Freebie The Tortoise and The Hare” – Grab this free 3-page adaptation of The Tortoise and the Hare. You can use it to do many of the free resources on this page.
The Tortoise and the Hare – Fable Reading Response Packet – After grabbing the 3-page Tortoise and the Hare adaptation, use this resource to help kids with their comprehension of the tale. This is a reader’s response packet that includes a word activity, vocabulary, descriptive writing, haiku writing, and graphic organizers.
The Tortoise and the Hare Maze – While your older kids are reading and analyzing, give your little ones a Tortoise and the Hare Maze. Older kids can also do this maze in their extra time.
Free The Hare and the Tortoise Writing Template – Use this free template download so your kids make their own account of a Tortoise versus Hare rematch. Also, learn some great teaching ideas and resources for this tale.
Activities for “The Tortoise & the Hare” an Aesop Fable (Free Printables) – Your kids will enjoy these awesome activities for The Tortoise & the Hare fable. Learn to do fairy tale flip-up crafts, writing practice, writing prompts to find out the moral of the story, and more.
More Aesop’s Fables Printables
25 Free Resources to use with Aesop’s Fables (Plus Instant Unit Study Download) – Grab this instant unit study download for your Aesop’s Fable lessons. Also, check out 25 printables and resources to use when studying the fables in your homeschool.
The Hare and The Tortoise Story and Free Printable – This resource using The Hare and the Tortoise tale includes skill practice in matching objects, counting, mazes, and more. This is a colorful activity your kids will enjoy.
The Hare and the Tortoise – Free Worksheet Pack – This 2-page worksheet spread provides learning activities for students that focus on punctuation, phonetic spelling, grammar, and role play.
The Lion and The Mouse Emergent Reader – This simple Aesop’s Fable reader is told with Dolch pre-primer words and rebus images. Your kids can also color in the readers.
Mouse and Lion Shape Tracing Strips – Help your kids practice their fine motor skills with this shape tracing activity with a Mouse and Lion theme. The 2D shapes in the strips include crescents, circles, hexagons, hearts, ovals, triangles, and more complex shapes like parallelograms.
The Lion and the Mouse Free Worksheet – This fable tells us how the weak can help the “strong.” The activities to help kids understand the fable includes true/false questions, fill-in-the-blanks, writing sentences, and sequencing.
The Little Red Hen Activities and Free Printables – These activities and printables for Aesop’s The Little Red Hen work on different skills like sequencing, counting, visual discrimination, pre-writing, and coloring.
The Fox and the Crow Readers’ Theater – Your first grader will enjoy this 4-part theater version of Aesop’s fable of The Fox and the Crow. It is in simplified text and uses simple sight words so young learners can easily read it and understand.
Andy and The Life Printable Graphic Organizer – Use this free printable graphic organizer to help your students discuss each fable they are reading. The graphic organizer has a Venn diagram, plot chart, mini book report organizers, and more.
Both tall tales and fables are worth teaching. They are introductions to fiction writing, reading, and can make it all fun for your kids from an early age.
To help your kids fill in all of their thoughts on what they have been reading or learning about with fables and tall tales, check out all of these free graphic organizers for reading and literature. They are great for your visual learners.
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!