The Story of Paul Bunyan by Barbara Emberley and illustrated by Ed Emberley (AMMO Books, 2015)
Flavorful prose and bold woodcuts tell of folklore legend, Paul Bunyan—a gentle giant who could “squeeze water out of a boulder, and drive stumps into the ground with his bare fists.” Barbara and Ed Emberley bring this character to life with humorous illustrations and a storyteller’s tone that makes you feel like you’re sitting around a campfire listening. Tall tales about the creation of the Mississippi River, the clearing of Iowa and Kansas for corn and wheat, and Paul’s discovery of Babe the Blue Ox incorporate US geography and elements of early American life.
1. Landmark Tall Tales (pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade)
- Colored pencils or markers
For expansion with online searching demo, access to web with suitable monitor or projector and screen
After reading The Story of Paul Bunyan, talk with kids about other American natural landmarks, such as the Grand Canyon, the Florida Everglades, the Mojave Desert, the Great Lakes, and the volcano Mt. St. Helens. Be sure to encourage discussion around one that is relatively local or about which several of the kids have some experience visiting. You can also use the National Park Service’s National Natural Landmarks Sites list, either before sharing the activity with the group or, with older children, as a demonstration of web searching for such discoveries.
After the discussion, invite kids to create their own tall tales about how different American natural landmarks were formed. They can illustrate important scene from their tales using colored pencils or markers. They can also express their tales as comics, using speech and thought bubbles and showing the action scenes in panels.
Dramatic extension option
As an extension, kids can act out their tall tales and videotape them!
For more about ways to use this book as the basis for group activities, as well as to see other book-based activities we have, visit the index to them here.