A Dozen Fish Stories: Using Hyperbole for Tall Tales

In a previous post, Ben asked us to consider how we use figurative language techniques in the classrooms. As luck would have it, I am right in the midst of a unit around figurative language with my sixth graders. I often begin with hyperbole, as my students are naturally prone to some exaggeration in their stories anyway.

We begin by talking about American Tall Tales and the way they use hyperbole to entice the reader and excite the narrative. I remind them that many tall tales were first based on real people. I talk about this equation:

Hyperbole + Legend= Tall Tale

We then listen to the story of Davey Crocket and I conduct a listening quiz. They love this story of this bizarre man who was born when a comet hit the top of a mountain, wrestled with the biggest panther of the forest and tamed it, took on Mike Fink in an animal-sound duel on the Mississippi River, and then headed off to the Alamo (where, unfortunately, he met his end that began his journey into American folklore).

Using this concept, I have my students write short tall stories about some real life event that happened to them. I provide an example of a tall tale story in which my entire classroom of students turns into penguins one day. They get a chuckle out of that one and are eager to write.

This year, we blogged our tall tale stories at The Electronic Pencil and then I collected some of the better stories and used Google Page Creator (a free website tool from the Google Suite) to make a website of tall tales.

Here are a couple of student tall tales:

One day when I came home from school, I went up to my room. I slipped of my shoes and through them on them on the floor. What a mess I thought. There where clothes all over the place, scattered on the ground. Every possible surface was covered with junk. My closet was filled with a confusion of stuff I shoved in there when I ‘tidied’ my room. Oh well I’ll clean it tomorrow. That’s what I always say, I know. I left my room to go downstairs to grab a snack.
When I got back I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were pigs, yes pigs, in my room. I’ve heard the expression your room is a pigsty, but I mean come on my room isn’t really that messy ok it is. What am I going to do with these pigs , I thought. If mom sees them she’ll absolutely freak. All of a sudden I got an idea. If I clean my room maybe the pigs will go away. So I clean my room and sure enough the pigs went away, to where I don’t know but as long as there out of my room I’m happy. I plopped down on my bed and let out a sigh of relief. It’s nice to have a clean room and trust me my room will never be that messy again.

– Margaret

It was a normal day for me and my friends. Just another school day. We had all our morning classes and we were heading to lunch. It was hotdogs for lunch. I wasn’t buying and everyone else was. I sat down and waited for my friends. When they came we started eating. It was disgusting. They were eating like animals. I looked away in disgust. But when I looked back they were growing! They had turned into monsters! I knew what was happening. It had happened before. They were turning into giant ompa – lompas! I knew what and where the antidote was. Chocolate. I ran out of the cafeteria and down the hall towards Mrs. Rice’s room where I knew she kept her secret stash of chocolate. When I got into her room Greg, who had been turned into a giant ompa-lompa was chasing me. I went into the mini-fridge and grabbed a Hershey’s chocolate bar out of the humongous pile. Then, I threw it into Greg’s mouth and he tuned back to normal. With a sigh of relief I asked him to help me with everyone else and he did. The everything was back to normal.

– Mike

One day my family and I went to New York City for a little vacation. We were driving on a traffic jammed road when it started to rain big fat elephants and tigers! One elephant landed on the roof of my car and then meowed like a helpless cat stuck in a fifty-foot tall tree in the middle of nowhere. Then a tiger fell on another car and said “I think this is a groovy pad! Time for the disco!” Then he started to do the disco to the song who let the Dogs out, which if I may say so has one of the worst rhythms that I have ever heard in my life. My family and I got out of our car and heard a noise. All of a sudden a tornado the size of a paperclip swept me off my feet. When I landed in the middle of China! I was scared but I was also happy because I was a little hungry and I love Chinese food. Then there was a TV stand nearby. I put on some cartoons and enjoyed my California rolls happily. All of a sudden a noise as loud as a plane crashing in the middle of the busiest place in the world made me jump so high that I landed back in New York City. When I got there I was pretty bored so I did the disco with the crazy Tiger.

– Noelle

Happy reading.


One response on “A Dozen Fish Stories: Using Hyperbole for Tall Tales

  1. jasmine

    this really helped me understand the concept of using hyperboles. i make up my own hyperboles but these were better stories than what i can do! thank you soooo much for helping me learn what a hyperbole is! one again thank you!

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