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WT 104 Writing Tall Tales

Teacher Tips and Answers


WT 104

Page 104

Davy Crockett
© Thoughtful Learning 2025

Writing Tall Tales

A tall tale stretches the truth past the breaking point until a person can do incredible things. Tall tales are funny and surprising, full of superhuman feats. They often start with a person from history, such as Annie Oakley or Davy Crockett, but make the person do the impossible.

On the Wild Frontier

Davy Crockett was born in Tennessee in 1786 and became a famous frontier explorer and soldier. Many tall tales tell of his adventures, such as fighting a bear when he was just three years old!

WT 105

Page 105

Sample Tall Tale

The following tall tale tells how Davy Crockett worked the land to make it just right for his bride.

Davy Crockett Shapes the West

Set the scene. Davy Crockett stood atop Clingman’s Dome in Tennessee and showed his bride Polly all the land that belonged to them. “Isn’t it grand?”

Create a Problem. "Too grand,” she said. “I prefer plains.”

Davy grabbed the mountaintop and hauled it up like a bedspread and gave it a mighty shake. It bounded up and billowed out and settled down into the Great Plains. “Anything for you, Polly.”

Use wild action. Not a week later, Polly strolled along the plains. “It’s boring here. There’s nowhere to ski.”

Davy grabbed his plow and drove it down into the plains and turned them up in giant ridges. He shouldered that blade through solid stone, forming the Rocky Mountains. Even as he finished, snow fell in perfect slopes at the top. “How’s that for a ski slope, Polly?”

A week later, she kicked off her skis. “I sure wish we had a place for swimming.”

Bring the action to a close. Davy snatched up a shovel and dug down six miles into the earth and two thousand miles over to China. All the rivers of the world ran down into the trough he made and formed the Pacific Ocean. “You can spend a lifetime swimming there!”

"If I asked, you’d give me the Moon.”

Davy handed her the leash. “There you go.”

WT 106

Page 106

Writing a Tall Tale


Create a Hero 🟪 You can start with someone from history, but then you exaggerate the person’s qualities. Your hero might be . . .

  • taller than a skyscraper.
  • hotter than a furnace.

Find a Problem 🟪 Your hero should face someone or something that is really powerful. This problem may be . . .

  • a wolverine that is bigger than a mountain
  • a wildfire that is burning a whole continent.
  • a lie that hypnotizes anyone who hears it.

Have Your Hero Take Action 🟪 Exaggerate the person’s abilities. Perhaps the hero will . . .

  • blow out the wildfire as if it were a birthday cake
  • end world hunger by painting a giant fish that can feed everybody!

WT 107

Page 107

Writing a Draft

Hook Your Reader 🟪 Introduce the main character and put a big problem in front of the person.

Add Action 🟪 Have your hero do something unbelievable to deal with the big problem. Then make the person do something even more incredible.

Create a Climax 🟪 Build the action to a high point. Show how your hero overcomes the problem or defeats the foe. If you wish, you can add a surprise ending.

Illustrate Your Story 🟪 Draw a picture of your hero, or illustrate your favorite scene.


Review and Revise 🟪 Does your story answer who? what? where? when? why? and how? Add, cut, rewrite, and rearrange to improve your tall tale.

Editing & Proofreading

Edit Your Tale 🟪 Make sure your punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and grammar are correct.


As you write, think of yourself as a storyteller surrounded by eager listeners. You want to keep them interested.

Davy Crockett and Fish
© Thoughtful Learning 2025

© 2024 Thoughtful Learning. Copying is permitted.