Mountain Humor in Folktales and Other Media
Intro Lesson 1 Lesson 2 Lesson 3 Lesson 4
1. Group work: research and choose an Appalachian folktale to perform. After the performance, audience can 1) interview the actors as they remain in character, or 2) question the actors about the characteristics of folktales, Appalachian values, humor, etc. in the production.
2. Individual work: collect jokes and cartoons relating to Appalachia, displaying them in an attractive format (book or otherwise). Explain, in a paragraph, where you located each joke or cartoon, whether the jokes or cartoons are written or drawn by insiders or outsiders, whether they are stereotypical or not, and why.
3. Individual work: retell, in picture book format, a folktale you have collected from one or several written sources, or an oral folktale from someone in your family or community.
4. Individual or group work: collect oral folktales from your family and community, compiling them in a book format (or beginning a web site). Include the date the tale was collected, the name of the storytellers, and any history the storytellers have to share about the tale (where they heard the tale, who told it, etc.), and the location (physical address) of the storytellers. In the interest of accuracy, it would be good to tape record the tale. You can then transcribe the tale exactly as it was told.
5. Individual or group work:
Make paper dolls of the story characters and use them to tell the story out loud.
Make cardboard cutouts of the characters in a folktale. Glue them to sticks or rulers and use them as rod puppets.
Make simple sock puppets of the characters.
Note: You could perform your stories for younger students.
6. Group work: split the class into groups, with each group representing a different point of view of a selected folktale. How would the story be told from the perspective of each of the different characters? How are the versions alike? How are they different?
7. Individual work: find different versions of the same folktale from different countries (e.g. European, African, other versions found throughout the Appalachian area). Compare the versions; look at the similarities and differences. Talk about how different cultures share folktales, how stories are timeless. (For examples, see AppLit's Annotated Index of Appalachian Folktales or Heidi Anne Heiner's Sur La Lune Fairy Tale Pages or D. L. Ashliman's Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts).
8. Individual work: try your hand at an even older written form. Choose a folktale and draw a picture in which each episode happens in sequence.
9. Group work: paint a class mural of scenes from as many different Appalachian folktales as you can locate.
10. Group work: sign up in groups for studying other film adaptations of folktales. Prepare introductory material and discussion questions. Present the film and lead the discussion.
11. Individual work: write, score, and perform (using an instrument of your choice) an original mood piece in response to your favorite film.
12. Individual work: take photographs and mount them in a collage that expresses your feelings about a particular folktale adaptation. Unify the collage with an original poem.
See also AppLit Study Guides: Activities for Teaching Appalachian Folktales and Dramatizations by the Jack Tale Players by Tina L. Hanlon and R. Rex Stephenson