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Literature Pockets: Tall Tales (Grades 4-6) Review by Tammy Walker

Jo Ellen Moore and Jill Norris
Stories by Tekla White
IllustratorIllustrated by Don Robison and Jo Larsen
Evan-Moor Educational Publishers
18 Lower Ragsdale Drive
Monterey, CA 93940

What is a literature pocket? I only discovered these fun activities recently myself. Students make personalized books by storing activities in labeled pockets made of construction paper. And best of all, the stories and activities are all included in this reproducible resource book. This curriculum offers nine stories in which to create activities. So, at the end of this book, your student would have made nine separate pockets, loaded with crafts and writings he has created. This is a very fun way to make literature come alive to children and to begin the process of learning to analyze written works.

Your student will read about Pecos Bill, Slue-Foot Sue, Paul Bunyan, Babe and the Blue Ox, John Henry, Davy Crocket, Alfred Bullfrog Stormalong, and Mose the Firefighter. Lastly, he will have an opportunity to create an original tall tale of his own.

An example of the Pecos Bill lesson plan will explain how these pockets work. First, the student will cut and color a pocket label for Pecos Bill. Then the instructor is given details about ways to present the story of Pecos Bill. She is then given questions she might ask to help her students review the story as well as questions for in-depth discussion of themes and ideas. After reading and discussion, the student fills out a page titled "Why Is It a Tall Tale: Pecos Bill." Attributes of a tall tale are given: larger than life character, problem solved in a funny way, and exaggerated details; and the student has plenty of space to express his thoughts. Next, the student uses reproducible pictures, scissors, crayons, glue and construction paper to make a craft showing wolves and a young man howling to the moon. Finally, the student uses the black-line copy provided to make a dictionary from the terms and idioms read in the tall tale.

I am so glad to have discovered this mode of teaching literature. In addition to reading literature to my young children in the afternoons, as they get older I will enjoy having them interact with literature in a more hands-on way. And best of all, all the work has really been done already. I just need to make the copies and enjoy these tales with them!

Product review by Tammy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2008