<Standard 1.6 .................................................................................................................................................................................. Standard 1.8>

1.7 After reading or listening to folktales, legends, and stories from America (e.g., Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, Davy Crockett, John Henry, and Annie Oakley) and from around the world (e.g., Anansi, Issun Boshi, the Knee-High Man, Lon Po Po, and Media Pollito), describe the main characters and their qualities.


American Folk Legends


lesson_plan_icon.jpgClick here for various lesson plans on American folktales, legends, and their heroes.

Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed from Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio, Ohio Centennial Edition, 1903.
Johnny Appleseed from Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio, Ohio Centennial Edition, 1903.

  • Was inspired by a real man, Johnny Chapman
  • Born in Leominister, Ma in 177
  • Dreamed of planting as many apple trees as possible to people would never go hungry
  • Headed West in his twenties and planted apple trees everywhere
  • Carried a leather bag full of seeds everywhere he went
  • He was known as "the apple seed man" and later became known as Johnny Appleseed
  • He never wore shoes
  • Became friends with many Native American tribes
  • Got sick with pneumonia and died in 1845, which is said to be the only time he got sick
For more information, click here.
lessonplan.jpgClick here for a lesson plan on Johnny Appleseed.
Multimedia.pngClick here to listen to the Johnny Appleseed song.
Multimedia.pngClick here to watch a video about the legend of Johnny Appleseed.


Paul Bunyan

external image Paul_Bunyon_statue_in_Bangor%2C_Maine.jpg
  • Giant lumberjack
  • Delivered by 5 storks
  • Had a giant blue ox, Babe
  • Created huge landmarks, The Grand Canyon, and Puget Sound
  • Had a huge appetite, used a griddle so large that it covered an entire acre

For more information and various tall tales about Paul Bunyan, click here.
lessonplan.jpgClick here for lesson plans on Paul Bunyan
Multimedia.pngClick here for the story of Paul Bunyan
Multimedia.pngClick here to listen to the Paul Bunyan song.

Davy Crockett

Portrait of Davy Crockett from D.W.C. Baker, A Texas Scrap-Book, 1875.
Portrait of Davy Crockett from D.W.C. Baker, A Texas Scrap-Book, 1875.

  • Born on a mountain in Tennessee in 1786
  • Became friends with the Native Americans
  • Helped keep the peace between the settlers and Native Americans
  • Wore a coonskin cap
  • Legend says that he fought and defeated a bear at age 3
  • Had a rifle called "Old Betsy"
For more information, click here.
lesson_plan_icon.jpgClick here for a lesson plan on Davy Crockett.
Multimedia.pngClick here for the Davy Crockett story.
Multimedia.pngClick here to listen to the Davy Crockett song.

Rotating_globe-small.gifJohn Henry


John Henry Statue in Talcott, West Virginia
John Henry Statue in Talcott, West Virginia

  • Was born a slave but freed after the Civil War
  • Worked as a steel driver building railroads
  • Was the fastest worker on the railroad
  • They planned to drill right through Big Bend Mountain, which was in its path
  • A salesman came with a drill to go through the mountain
  • Had a contest between Henry and the drill to see who could make a bigger hole
  • Henry drilled two 7 foot holes, the drill only did one 9 foot hole
  • However, a blood vessel burst in his head and he died
  • If you go to Big Bend Mountain, you can hear his hammers

For more information, click here
lesson_plan_icon.jpgClick here for a lesson plan on John Henry.
Multimedia.pngClick here for the John Henry story.
Multimedia.pngClick here for the John Henry song. external image 200px-Paperback_book_black_gal.svg.pngClick here for a description of the children's book, John Henry: An American Legend by Ezra Jack Keats (1965).

Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley with a gun given to her by Buffalo Bill, 1922 from the Library of Congress.
Annie Oakley with a gun given to her by Buffalo Bill, 1922 from the Library of Congress.

  • Born in 1860 in Ohio
  • Became a sharpshooter and helped pay off her mother's mortgage with her winnings
  • Became the star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show
  • Could shoot playing cards as they were thrown in the air, could shoot objects while looking in a mirror, and many more tricks
  • She even entertained Queen Victoria and Kaiser Wilhelm II

For more information, see Annie Oakley from PBS American Experience.
Multimedia.pngClick here for a short video biography on Annie Oakley


multicultural.pngWorld Legends

Anansi

  • West African spider-man
  • Had all the wisdom in the world
  • Is a trickster, using his wit to overcome his enemies
  • Son of the Supreme Being, Nyame.
  • Brings rain to quench forest fires
  • Determines where the rivers and oceans are
  • Credited with creating the moon, stars, night, day, and first man
  • Taught people how to harvest
  • Showed people who to create houses
  • Focus of many stories
  • Stories are both entertaining and instructional
For more information on Anansi, click here.
For a sample of Anansi stories, click here.

Multimedia.pngClick here and here for video stories of Anansi
lesson_plan_icon.jpgFor lesson plans, click here, here, and here.

Issun Boshi

Illustration from Issun bôshi, published c. 1725
Illustration from Issun bôshi, published c. 1725

  • Japanese legend
  • Born to an older couple who prayed for a child
  • Was born tiny, he fit on a fingertip
  • Did not grow, the name "Issun" is a measurement for about 3 centimeters
  • He dreamed of going to the city
  • Parents allowed him to go with a needle for a sword, in a rice bowl boat
  • Became the servant for a Lord's daughter
  • Saved her from ogres
  • Was granted a wish to be full sized
  • Married the Lord's daughter and became a warrior
Multimedia.pngClick here to read the full story, in an animated ebook or click here to watch a student's video of the story


lessonplan.jpgClick here for a lesson plan that compares Issun's story to similar stories from around the world.

the Knee-High Man

  • African-American folktale
  • Man as tall as most people's knees
  • Wanted desperately to be full sized
  • Asked various large animals how to be big, and took their advice
  • None of their advice worked
  • Asked an owl for his advice
  • The owl helped him realize he should be happy with his own size
For the full story, click here
lessonplan.jpgClick here for lesson ideas from Activated Story Theater
Multimedia.pngClick here for a youtube video of students reading the story

Lon Po Po

  • Chinese Little Red Riding Hood
  • Mother leaves the house to visit grandmother (Lon Po Po)
  • 3 girls left alone
  • Wolf dresses up like Lon Po Po
  • Children do not believe it's the grandmother
  • They tell her to climb a tree for gingko nuts which will let her live forever
  • The girls go climb the tree and start to pull the wolf up in a basket
  • They then drop the basket and the wolf falls to the ground
  • The wolf's heart broke into many pieces
  • The mother came home to find her girls waiting safely
For the full tale, click here.
Click here to view info on an award winning book by Ed Young on Lon Po Po.
lessonplan.jpgClick here for a lesson plan about Lon Po Po

Medio Pollito

  • Spanish folktale
  • Hatched as half a chicken
  • One leg, one wing, and one eye
  • All the other animals on the farm were very excited and intrigued by him
  • Pollito left his family to go to Mexico City and see the Viceroy
  • Helped river, fire, and wind along the way
  • When he got the palace, he was almost cooked in a soup
  • The water and fire repaid him and saved him
  • The wind swept him up and placed him on a high tower
  • From there, he could see everything but still be safe
  • This is the origin of weather vanes
Click here for the full story.
lessonplan.jpgClick here for a lesson plan about Medioa Pollito