Sunday, June 29, 2014

Story Time: American Folk Tales & States

                                                     American Folk Tales/ Tall Tales

One of my fourth grade classes is studying Folk Tales/ Tall Tales. The class visits the library twice a week. I chose three tall tales to read to the class : Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill and John Henry:

 Paul Bunyan by Steve Kellogg

 Pecos Bill by Steve Kellogg

John Henry by Julius Lester and Jerry Pinkney

I really wanted to show the class a movie or two of tall tales. I remembered Disney's "The Legend of Pecos Bill" from when I was younger, so I looked up the video. I felt it was inappropriate to show to the class. I do think that the John Henry video could work, I might use it later in the week. 
After I read the three stories above I asked the class to help me point out the states that each tall tale covered. I printed out a blank map (Like the one shown above) and the students helped me fill in the states for John Henry (West Virginia), Pecos Bill (Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and California) and Paul Bunyan (California, Oregon and Washington). Here is a map of all of them (I also added Johnny Appleseed, which I want to read to the students, if I have the time).

I then turned the states activity into a competition. We read about the competition with Paul Bunyan and the steam saw and train and then the competition with John Henry and the steam drill. I thought it would be fun for the students to get into two groups and compete against each other to see who could put the states in alphabetical order the fastest. I handed out a map with each state labeled (the whole name, not just the abbreviation). Then I divided the class into two groups (they ended up breaking up into four groups, two was too many students to be heard). I gave them 10 minutes and then had one student from each group stand up and recite their list. The farthest anyone got was the M's (with a few mistakes). I was very impressed!
One student happened to know a state song (that I also knew) called "Fifty Nifty." I did not have her participate with the group. Instead she wrote down all the states she remembered (about 2/3rds of the song) and I looked it over for any mistakes. After the students had their chance to recite the states, I had her sing the song. I took over when she stopped at Ohio and finished the song. This is an awesome way to remember the states. It is not the typically known song from Animaniacs, I learned it in elementary school and I still know all the states in order. Here are the lyrics, you can find several videos of it on youtube:
"Fifty Nifty United States" by Ray Charles
Fifty nifty United States from thirteen original colonies;
Fifty nifty stars in the flag that billows so beautifully in the breeze.
Each individual state contributes a quality that is great.
Each individual state deserves a bow, we salute them now.
Fifty nifty United States from thirteen original colonies,
Shout 'em, scout 'em, Tell all about 'em,
One by one till we've given a day to every state in the U.S.A.
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut;
Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana;
Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan;
Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada;
New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina,
North Dakota, Ohio; Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina,
South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas; Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming!
Fifty nifty United States from thirteen original colonies,
Shout 'em, scout 'em, Tell all about 'em,
One by one till we've given a day to every state in the good old U. S. A.

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