10th Grade Short Story Project: Tall Tales

Time for a terrific 10th grade short story project: Tall Tales!

Terrific 10th Grade Short Story Writing: Tall Tales

Terrific 10th Grade Short Story Project: Tall Tales

It is one of the best 10th grade short story projects: Tall Tales!

Tall Tales are true American culture. Tall Tale heroes go back as far as Native American folk tales but reached their peak with the home-spun stories of Paul Bunyan the Lumberjack, Pecos Bill the Cowboy, Calamity Jane the Cowgirl, and John Henry the Railroad Man.

There are 3 reasons a Tall Tale short story project is terrific for 10th grade: 

  • Helps shake shy sophomores loose from inhibited creativity. (They need to think creatively to get good essay and research paper grades in college.)
  • Helps teach technique in a friendly manner. (No intimidation while learning characterization, plot lines, and conversation writing.)
  • It’s FUN! (There’s WAY too much serious education going on in 10th grade. A little levity will make everything better.)

So to give you a taste of terrific 10th grade Tall Tale writing, here is Sister Sabrina’s Tall Tale about homeschooling:

tall tale



Homeschool Hilly was a legend in these parts.

10th Grade Short Story Project: Tall Tales

She lived with her hubby and her brood of young’uns in the roughest, toughest suburb you ever did see.

Hilly stood five-feet-five-inches tall and had hair that never seemed to stay the way she’d brushed it.  Her hazel eyes could see through the mess around her and identify the task to be tackled, and she never backed down from a challenge.  Some say her eyes could see behind her without Hilly even turning her head, especially if the kids were fighting in the back seat of the minivan.

The day started like any other.  Homeschool Hilly saw her hubby off to work and headed to the kitchen for a morning cup o’ joe.  When she pressed the “Brew” button on the coffeemaker, nothing happened.  No lights came on, no water bubbled, no coffee aroma filled the air.  Hilly knew there was trouble afoot.

She called the young’uns to her side.

“Young’uns,” she said, tucking a stray piece of hair behind her ear, “we got us a problem.  It’s gonna take every last one of us to tackle this problem, but I know we can do it because we are homeschoolers, and what do homeschoolers do when there’s a problem?”

Little Susie spoke up first.  “Homeschoolers solve it, Mama!”

Homeschool Hilly smiled at her darlin’.

“That’s right, Little Susie.  Now here’s your first assignment for the day.  I want every one of you young’uns to go through the house and try to turn on the appliances.  Little Susie, you see if the dishwasher still works.  Frankie Jr., you try the washing machine; you’re tall enough to reach the dial.  Stinky Joe, you check the microwave; just press the ‘Popcorn’ button like usual and see if it turns on.  Let’s get to work!”

Off scurried the young’uns to try the appliances in the house, and sure enough…..not a one was in working order.

“Mama! Mama!” cried Stinky Joe, “what will do if the ‘Popcorn’ button won’t ever work again?”

Homeschool Hilly scooped him up in a bear hug.

“Don’t you cry, Stinky Joe.  We can lick this problem!”

Hilly did some quick investigation and found the source of the trouble; during the night, mice had chewed through all the electrical cords to the appliances in the house, leaving the family in quite a pickle.  There was no time to waste!

Out in the driveway, the family’s trusty minivan, Egbert, was waiting for them.

10th Grade Short Story Project: Tall Tales

10th Grade Short Story Project Tall Tales: Rising Action

“Come on, young’uns….climb into Egbert, and bring a notebook and a pencil with you!” shouted Hilly, leading the way.  “Buckle up, now!  We’re gonna ride like the wind!”

Homeschool Hilly drove Egbert to the library, stopping first at the convenience store for a cup o’ joe.  In the library parking lot, Hilly sipped her coffee and prayed with the young’uns.

“Dear Father, we know that You have our homestead safe in Your hands. Thank You for taking such good care of us!”

In the door they went, and she set the young’uns to work with a stack of books explaining how electricity works.  As they studied the diagrams and explanations, she got on the library internet computer and contacted her local homeschool support group.

She fired off a cry for help:  “Young’uns and I in desperate need of electrician and exterminator.  Appliance cords all chewed through, and mice in charge of the homestead.  We are hiding out at the library, and need reinforcements!  Text messages to my cell at 555-555-5555 are mighty appreciated!  (As we are hiding at the library, I reckon my phone best stay on silent.)”

As Hilly waited for the text messages to arrive, she had the young’uns pull out their notebooks and draw diagrams of a closed circuit and an open circuit.  They drew a portrait of Benjamin Franklin flying a kite and Thomas Edison with a light bulb in his hand.  They found other books that described the jaw structure and tooth shape of mice that made them such efficient chewers.  Stinky Joe expressed a desire to become an electrical engineer someday, and Little Susie went to the bathroom three times.

10th Grade Short Story Project: Tall Tales

10th Grade Short Story Project Tall Tales Conclusion:

In less than an hour the text messages had arrived.

“Hilly, my friend is an electrician.  He’s on his way to your homestead.  Hang tight!  Praying for you and the young’uns!”

“No worries, Hilly.  My cousin is an exterminator and he specializes in critters like the ones that done-in your appliance cords.  He’ll be at your place in an hour.”

With their heads full of knowledge, Little Susie, Frankie Jr. and Stinky Joe climbed back into Egbert for the journey home.

“Mama,” said Frankie Jr., “I’m glad the electrician and the exterminator are going to save our homestead, but right now I’m hungry!”

“That’s okay, Frankie Jr.,” said Hilly.  “Remember that we are homeschoolers.  And what do homeschoolers do when there’s a problem?”

“They solve it!” hollered all three young’uns in chorus.

Homeschool Hilly opened the box of granola bars she kept in Egbert for just such an emergency as this, and the young’uns munched in peace on the drive home.

That night when hubby arrived home from work, he found the homestead safe and sound, and all the young’uns gathered ’round the supper table.

“What did y’all do with yourselves today?” he asked.  Homeschool Hilly smiled as she tucked that wayward piece of hair behind her ear.

Stinky Joe answered first,

“We solved problems with Mama, ’cause that’s what homeschoolers do!”

Download your copy of Intermediate Guide to High School Short Story Writing: Tall Tales!

tall tale

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Terrific 10th Grade Short Story Project: Tall Tales

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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