Teacher Resource Guide and Lesson Plan Activities - Walden Theatre

Teacher Resource Guide and Lesson Plan Activities - Walden Theatre

1 Teacher Resource Guide and Lesson Plan Activities Teacher resource guide written by Mera Kathryn Corlett Lesson plan activities created by Mera Cos...

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Teacher Resource Guide and Lesson Plan Activities Teacher resource guide written by Mera Kathryn Corlett Lesson plan activities created by Mera Cossey Corlett This resource guide includes information about the show and ideas for follow-up lessons to use in your classrooms. The activities were designed for 2nd-5th grade classes; however, feel free to adapt them as needed.

Illustrations by Stephanie Gobby, www.stephaniegobby.com

StoryTime Theatre was developed by Blue Apple’s Education Department in 2012 as a way of introducing students to story genre. In the spirit of the Blue Apple founders, the Outreach Department creates a new, original play each year featuring a different genre of story and the culture from which it originated. A folktale from Appalachia was performed in 2012; 2013 focused on myths from four Native American tribes; 2014 examined legends of Daniel Boone. Last year, the team used the fairytale of Rumpelstiltskin to explore the German culture where the Brothers Grimm collected the story. This year, we are tackling tall tales from the American frontier. Please let us know of any projects inspired by this module at P.O. Box 4261, Louisville, KY 40204 or [email protected] We delight in hearing about all class adventures! Watch for this symbol throughout the resource guide for activities that help meet Common Core and other standards in your classroom.

This year’s Story Time Theatre focuses on the genre of tall tales and two particular folk heroes; Paul Bunyan and Annie Christmas. Tall tales are a uniquely American story genre. Unlike other story genres, tall tales’ main goal is to entertain. In her book American Tall Tales, Mary Pope Osborne wrote, “The heroes and heroines of the tales were like the land itself - gigantic, extravagant, restless, and flamboyant.” By using exaggerations in their storytelling, new settlers could laugh at the fierce land they were learning to survive in. The name Paul Bunyan has almost become synonymous with the tall tale genre, but the story of Annie Christmas might be new to many. She is not a tall tale commonly told in this region. Her stories originate from New Orleans and towns along the Mississippi River. While we know that the stories about Paul Bunyan were complete fiction, it is believed that Annie Christmas is based on a real woman who worked on the docks. We encourage you and your class to look into other stories about Paul Bunyan and Annie Christmas!

We hope you have enjoyed this year’s performance of StoryTime Theatre: Skyhigh Tales. We request that you take a few moments to fill out a short survey to help us understand how we can continue to meet your classroom needs. Visit the link below:



Annie Smith began her work with Blue Apple Players in 2000 as a cast member of touring musicals. Throughout her 15 plus years with the company, she has performed lead roles in more than ten musicals, including the 2015 tour of Johnny Appleseed. Annie is also a teaching artist for Outreach Programs. She has brought her prior administrative and marketing experience from Dinsmore & Shohl Attorneys and top hotels in the area to lead special events, marketing, and other administrative areas for Blue Apple. Annie is married to Corey Smith, a sound technician she met through Blue Apple more than 12 years ago.

Tony Pike is an actor based out of Louisville, KY. Working on his third Blue Apple tour, Tony is a former student of Western Kentucky University's Theatre. He is a company member of Savage Rose Classical Theatre in Louisville where he has been seen as Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew, Mr. Martini in the Bald Soprano and Ferdinand in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. He has also been seen at the Cannes International Film festival, Short Film Corner staring in the Rivera/Sennet production of “Writing the Big One”.

Felisha Lovett is a typical college graduate, still seeking to find herself. After graduating, she moved back to her hometown, Louisville, Kentucky, to volunteer at her middle school alma mater, starting her own extra-curricular course in creative writing, aiding preteens in how to express themselves through the written word. Currently, her efforts are in presenting her film work to the world through festivals, but in the meantime, she works part time at Hennes & Mauritz. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her mother and father, reading, and playing videogames. She feels honored to have been asked to return to the stage for this Walden Theatre/Blue Apple Players’ show.

April Singer, a Louisville native, is a 2005 graduate of Hanover College, where she double majored in Theatre and Sociology. She has performed locally with many companies including The Bards Town Theatre, Looking for Lilith, The Alley Theatre and Theatre 502. She previously toured with Kentucky Shakespeare’s Education Department, performing in and around the Commonwealth. She also stars in the locally produced web series, Bagged and Bored. April is thrilled to be doing her first show with Walden Theatre/ Blue Apple Players.

Mera Kathryn Corlett—Playwright/Director Mera Kathryn began her work at Blue Players as a member of the touring company in 2011. Currently, she serves as an Artistic Associate where her focus has primarily been on early childhood and elementary programming. This is the third script she has created for the coming; previous plays were Rumpelstiltskin and On the Trail of Daniel Boon. Mera Kathryn has played an active role in Blue Apple’s touring musical productions, drama residencies, and professional development for teachers. Prior to Blue Apple, she worked for Kentucky Shakespeare as a touring actor, workshop facilitator, and lead teacher for Camp Shakespeare. Upon graduating Cum Laude from Hanover College with degrees in theatre and theology, she received the Henry C. Long Citation for Scholarship and General Excellence, the most distinguished award a female graduate can receive.


A tall tale is a story with roots in the oral storytelling tradition that focuses on a main character who must solve a problem and uses humorous exaggerations. Have students listen to or read other tall tales. Suggestions are Pecos Bill, Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind, John Henry, Sal Fink. You may even want to incorporate folktales from other cultures that include tall tale characteristics such as Big Joe Mufferaw (Canada), Baron Munchausen (Germany), Finn MacCool and his wife Oonagh (Ireland), and Doña Flor (Latin American). Tell your students, “Now it is time for you to create your own tall tale.” Let them know that they are welcome to use the beginning of Lana T. Luper’s story (text below and on page 7) or they can choose to invent a new tall tale hero. Remind students to include the following four elements in tall tales as they write or draw their stories.

The main character has a regular job, but is largerthan-life or super-human in his or her abilities.

The character has a problem or problems that he or she solves in a funny way.

Details in the story are The characters use exaggerated beyond belief. everyday language and are This is called hyperbole. like common people in behavior.

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy: RL.2: Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain through key details in the text; RL9: Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (eg. mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes.

Lana T. Luper describing when she built a 500 pound hot fudge sundae: ”It was early November. Colder than sweater weather, too warm for a parka. Super scoopin’ time, for sure!”

? There are often wild and wondrous occurrences going along with the birth and beginnings of tall tale heroes. Paul Bunyan was supposedly delivered to his parents by five giant storks; his cry was so loud, it scared all the fish out of the water. John Henry as an infant reached for a steel hammer instead of a baby rattle. When he was a newborn, Pecos Bill wrestled with bear cubs. Slue Foot Sue showed up riding on the back of a giant catfish! Ask students, “Are there any special stories you have heard about your birth? Often families pass down stories like that. When babies are born, their weight, length and exact time of arrival. Tall tale characters grow and change dramatically. Have you ever thought about how much you have grown? This exercise in measuring and math will give you a chance to figure it out.” First, your students will need the information about how long each was at birth. It may be recorded on a document or a family member may remember. If the information is not available, help students make their best guesses. (The average for a full-term newborn is 20 inches.)Next, have students find out their present heights by using a yard stick or measuring tape. Then, show them they will just need to do simple math by subtracting their original length from their present height. Feel free to come up with more complex math questions having to do with measurement for more advanced students. For the final step, have students create an equation to exaggerate there actual height to one a size like Paul Bunyan’s. Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practices: MD.A.1: Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes; MD.A.4: Measure to determine how much longer one object is than another, expressing the length difference in terms of a standard length unit.

Recall: Gather Facts What was Mrs. Agnes Actual against being told in schools? Interpret: Find Meaning Why did she feel that way? Analyze: Take Things Apart What hyperboles appear in the stories that Ms. Actual would consider “not the truth”? Synthesize: Bring Things Together What are the main goal of these hyperboles? Evaluate: Make Judgments Why are tall tales important? Should Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy: W 2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; W 8: Recall information from experience or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories; SL4: Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.


In order to keep listeners entranced and to make stories more interesting, good storytellers find various ways of describing characters and happenings in the stories. It is for this reason that idioms are often found in tall tales. Tall tales are filled with devices known as idioms. Idioms are common phrases or terms whose meaning are not literal, but they can be understood by their popular use. Some idioms have been passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes the meanings of idioms are obvious because they are familiar, sometimes they just make sense and sometimes they confuse. Idioms are not only present in English, they are found in most languages and cultures. In fact, when learning a new language, idioms are typically the most perplexing to non-speakers. Use the hand-out sheet provided on pages 5 and have your students see how many idioms they can match. Next, using page 6, have you students list as many idioms as they can think of. They may want to return to this page as a resource when they are developing their new tall tale. Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy: L5: Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings; L5.b: Recognize and explain the meaning of common idioms, adages, and proverbs.

In recent years, researchers in the field of education are noting the importance of leisure education in curriculum. Leisure education includes physical education, recreation and teaching students the importance of developing healthy and well rounded hobbies. In Skyhigh Tales, the importance of leisure activities is accentuated by contests held in Paul Bunyan’s camp, a short vacation for Annie Christmas and the enjoyment brought in storytelling. This section focuses on the importance of students’ developing healthy leisure activities and the benefits of healthy choices. In the play, Skyhigh Tales, Annie Christmas says, “I’ll be! I don’t remember when I last had me a good old time. I think I better put on the dog because this spring chicken needs a night out. ” She is referring to taking time off from her hard work in order to relax and enjoy her self. “Leisure time” is defined as the time one has when he or she is not working, at school or attending to chores. Simply put, it is your free time. Finding fun and healthy ways to spend your free time is important. Mention to students that Paul Bunyan, Hattie and the men in the logging camps enjoyed contests—especially log splitting contests. Annie Christmas enjoyed dancing, playing cards and arm-wrestling. Ask your class what things they enjoy doing in their free time? Provide time for discussion for a group activity. A “Fun Things To Do” chart can be found on page 8. Have your students use it as a checklist for creative and healthy activities. There are empty categories for specifics. The chart can serve as a checklist or students can time activities, writing in how much time was spent doing them. The checklist can be sent home and returned. Discussion can be held about leisure activities. Be certain to discuss how much time is spent on activities such as watching t.v. and playing video games, noting that these are fun activities for now and then, but they ought not take the place of more active and creative activities. Practical Living: Physical Wellness: Enduring Knowledge: Students will understand that: physical activity provides opportunities for social interaction, challenges, and fun; participation in regular physical activity has physical, mental, and social benefits; regular participation in healthrelated, physical activity supports the goals of fitness and a healthier lifestyle throughout life.


Storms are powerful, mysterious and impossible for humans to manage. Problems with the weather often appear in Tall tales. Characters wrangle cyclones with a lasso, battle flood waters, and create rain to end a drought.

Fill the two-liter bottle ¾ of the way to the top with water. Then, add about ½ cup of vegetable oil. Next, add five drops of blue food coloring. Screw the lid on tightly so it is very secure. Then, reinforce the lid with packing tape.

Have your students read or listen to Pecos Bill Rides a Tornado (page 9), Drought Buster (page 10), or Annie Christmas Stems the Tide (page 11 & 12). Lead the class in a discussion why the hyperbole in these stories would be entertaining to a storyteller’s audience.

To make a storm in the bottle, simply shake the bottle. Twirl the bottle around in a circle to create a tornado or cyclone effect. Create storm waves by turning the bottle on its side and invert it back and forth.

After the discussion, explain that the class is going to participate in a scientific investigation. They will be creating a storm in a bottle. For this project, you need:     

a two-liter soda bottle (without a label) water vegetable oil blue food coloring, clear packing tape.

(If there are enough supplies, smaller “storms” can be made by using 1 liter bottles or single serve bottles and adjusting the ingredients so every student may have his/ her own.) Next Generation Science Standards: 2-ESS2-1: Compare solutions designed to slow or prevent wind from changing the shape of the land; 2-ESS2-2: Develop a model to represent the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area.


Idiom Match-Up An idiom is a form of expression that is particular to a certain person or a group of people. These days we use idiom for a specialized vocabulary or an expression that isn’t obvious, like “piece of cake” which means an easy Definition from vocabulary.com task. Can you match these popular idioms to their actual meanings? “A tough cookie” “Hold your horses”

Very angry Teasing /deceiving someone

“I am all ears”

A strong-willed person

“Quick as lightning”

Does not move quickly

“Older than dirt” “Madder than a wet hen” “Ants in your pants” “A humdinger” “Go fly a kite” “Slow as molasses” “Pulling your leg”

Slow down/Be patient Leave me alone Very fast Been around for a long time Fidgeting, moving around Wonderful, marvelous thing Listening closely


My Idioms What idioms do you use? Make a list of idioms you have heard or used. Use them in your next storytelling and writing project.

_________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________

Story Prompt Lana T. Luper describing when she built a 500 pound hot fudge sundae: ”It was early November. Colder than sweater weather, too warm for a parka. Super scoopin’ time, for sure!” Use the boxes below to write or draw the beginning , middle and end of this Tall Tale. Beginning





Activities Read a book


Play outside Create a craft project Invent a game Read to/with someone Listen to music

Make-up a play









Pecos Bill Rides a Tornado A Kansas Tall Tale Retold by S.E. Schlosser


Found on americanfolklore.net

ow everyone in the West knows that Pecos Bill could ride anything. No bronco could throw him, no sir! Fact is, I only heard of Bill getting' throwed once in his whole career as a cowboy. Yep, it was that time he was up Kansas way and decided to ride him a tornado. Now Bill wasn't gonna ride jest* any tornado, no ma'am. He waited for the biggest gol-durned tornado you ever saw. It was turning the sky black and green, and roaring so loud it woke up the farmers away over in China. Well, Bill jest grabbed that there tornado, pushed it to the ground and jumped on its back. The tornado whipped and whirled and sidewinded and generally cussed its bad luck all the way down to Texas. Tied the rivers into knots, flattened all the forests so bad they had to rename one place the Staked Plains. But Bill jest rode along all calm-like, give it an occasional jab with his spurs. Finally, that tornado decided it wasn't getting this cowboy off its back no-how. So it headed west to California and jest rained itself out. Made so much water it washed out the Grand Canyon. That tornado was down to practically nothing when Bill finally fell off. He hit the ground so hard it sank below sea level. Folks call the spot Death Valley. Anyway, that's how rodeo got started. Though most cowboys stick to broncos these days.

THE END *This story is written in the vernacular—the way words are pronounced—and spells some words differently. Rather than spelling “just” correctly, the author has spelled it the way a storyteller would say it.


Drought Buster A Nebraska Tall Tale Retold by S.E. Schlosser


Found on americanfolklore.net

ack in the early days, the Plains folk were often in need of a good drought buster during the hot summer months. The sun would shine and shine, and the clouds would scuttle right quick over the Plains without dropping rain. One year, it got so bad that Febold Feboldson, that legendary Swede who could bust the driest drought in a day, got annoyed. He liked his fishin', right enough, and there was no fishin' to be had in that drought. So he sat down and thought up a way to bust that there drought. Febold Feboldson decided to build huge bonfires around all the lakes in the region. If he kept the fires real hot, the lake water would evaporate and form clouds. Febold set to work at once hauling wood and building bonfires. Soon, there were so many clouds in the sky on account of all the vaporizing water that they bumped into one another and made rain. Once the pump was primed, so to speak, the rains came regularly again. But were the settlers happy? No sir. Now they had no place to swim!



Annie Christmas Stems the Tide Excerpt from Speaking Out: Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children


*Used with special permission from author Jack Zipes*

t was a rainy spring, and Annie Christmas was all alone way up near Minnesota. Her children had all gone and married themselves off, and she was returning to New Orleans on her keelboat with clothes and food for some customers in New Orleans. But she was having a difficult time of it because it was raining cats and dogs up north, and the river was rising and acting up. Everyone up there in Minnesota told her to dock her boat because the rain would not let up and the river would become ferocious. "In seven days time it will rise up like a tidal wave and rush down south and flood all the towns in Louisiana!" "It will wipe New Orleans off the face of the map!" When Annie Christmas heard that her favorite city was threatened, she cried out, "It's my river and my city, and I take responsibility for this here river! I'll ride her down south and stop her shenanigans!" "You can't do that," the people cried. "You wait and see," she replied. So Annie Christmas jumped on top of her keelboat, and she rode that bucking river as though it were a wild horse that needed taming. The Mississippi flung her here and there and everywhere. She almost drowned a hundred times and was knocked off her keelboat five hundred times. But Annie Christmas was a fighter and a survivor, and she finally made it to New Orleans, three days before the floods were going to arrive. New Orleans was quiet and peaceful, and nobody knew the floods were coming. "Get up!" she shouted. "If you don't start packing bags of sand along the shores, you won't have a city anymore!" Scared and frightened, the people of New Orleans jumped out of their beds and began packing the banks of the Mississippi with bags of sand. In the meantime, Annie Christmas called out to her sons and daughters


Annie Christmas Stems the Tide (Cont.) Excerpt from Speaking Out: Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children *Used with special permission from author Jack Zipes*

and said to them, "You've been lazy long enough. Now come with me. We're going to build a damn and redirect this wild river toward Texas." "Why Texas?" one of her sons asked. "That's just one big desert, son," she answered. "And they could use some water. Besides they got too many gamblers and crooks there, and maybe the water will wipe them away." Well, you wouldn't have believed your eyes even if you had been there. Annie Christmas took her six huge daughters and six huge sons, and they went a hundred miles north of New Orleans, and within two days they built a gigantic dam covering the Mississippi. Then Annie Christmas showed them how to dig a riverbed heading toward Texas, and they took their shovels and pikes, and within a day there was a sort of canal leading off to Texas. Just as they finished, they could hear the water rumbling, grumbling, thundering, plundering, roaring, and soaring. "Here she comes!" Annie Christmas yelled, and just as the first tidal wave hit the dam and bounced off the walls, she jumped on top of it and began wrestling it to the ground. The water ran all over her, but she bounced up and grabbed hold of the tip of the wave and held it in a headlock, forcing the water to enter the riverbed and the canal toward Texas. Up and under she went, but Annie Christmas managed to drag the water away from the walls of the dam toward Texas. She waged a huge battle and almost drowned a thousand times, but she always came back up riding the water until it was clear that the Mississippi would not flood New Orleans. Annie Christmas disappeared at the end of the day, but her body was never found. Some say she drowned. Some say she became part of the Mississippi, and that's why it's never threatened New Orleans again. Her six daughters and six sons refused to hold a funeral for her. "She's still alive in our hearts," they declared. And all the people of New Orleans gave their blessing, and to this day they believe that Annie Christmas is still alive.


Special thanks to: Mera Cossey Corlett & Kevin Corlett, Paul Lenzi & Geraldine Anne Snyder, Communities in Schools of Clark County, The Shubert Foundation and countless others who donated plaid clothing to the crowd-sourced backdrop project!

Blair, Eric, and Micah Chambers-Goldberg. Paul Bunyan: A Retelling of the Classic Tall Tale. Minneapolis, MN: Pic-

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N. pag. Print. Osborne, Mary Pope., and Michael McCurdy. "Paul Bunyan." American Tall Tales. New York: Knopf, 1991. N. pag.

Print. Schomp, Virginia. Paul Bunyan and His Big Blue Ox. New York, NY: Cavendish Square, 2014. Print. Untermeyer, Louis, and Everett Gee Jackson. "Paul's Courtship." The Wonderful Adventures of Paul Bunyan. New

York: Heritage, 1945. N. pag. Print. York, M. J. Paul Bunyan. Mankato, MN: Child's World, 2013. Print. Cohn, Amy L., and Molly Bang. "Strong as Annie Christmas” and “Paul Bunyan, the Mightiest Logger of Them All."

From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs. New York: Scholastic, 1993. N. pag. Print. Annie and the Storm, Partner Read-Alouds: Tall Tales. Key Education. Web. . Asbury, Herbert. "Down the River to Dixie." The French Quarter; an Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld.

New York: A.A. Knopf, 1936. N. pag. Web. Franco, Betsy. "Annie Christmas." Tall Tale Math (2013): n. pag. Scholastic Teaching Resources. Web.
esvcs.scholastic.com/images/products/collateral_resources/pdf/34/0545333334_e002.pdf>. Hamilton, Virginia, Leo Dillon, and Diane Dillon. "Annie Christmas." Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy

Tales, and True Tales. New York: Blue Sky, 1995. N. pag. Print. * McCullough, L. E. "Annie Christmas and the Natchez Trace Bandits." Plays of America from American Folklore for

Children. Lyme, NH: Smith and Kraus, 1996. N. pag. Print. Saxon, Lyle, Edward Dreyer, and Robert Tallant. "Riverfront Lore." Gumbo Ya-ya. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1945. N. pag. Print. * Zipes, Jack. "Spreading Tales, Opening Minds - Sample Sessions."Speaking Out: Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children. New York: Routledge, 2004. N. pag. Web *Contains some mature content*

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