Playing With Language: Tall Tales and Codes
Students brainstorm the evolution of communication, explore folktales and their elements, and study and create cryptology (secret codes).
- Grades: 6–8
Students will discover that language evolves and can even be invented. By exploring their own language development from babyhood to middle school, they will see that language is a tool used for a variety of things, and at a variety of skill levels. Then, by studying folktales — including some classic American tall tales — students learn that just as words are tools, stories too can be like tools, used to convey secret messages, moral lessons, and history. Students' new understanding of language as a tool or code is reinforced with an introduction to cryptology, where language is used as a code. This unit incorporates knowledge from various curriculum areas and can be team-taught by social studies, math, and language arts teachers cooperatively.
- Utilize brainstorming techniques
- List ways people communicate
- Read and create a timeline
- Interpret and identify the elements of folktales, with an emphasis on tall tales
- Read for literacy experience
- Write to express personal ideas to an audience
- Present their writing to the class
- Discover and identify cryptology used in everyday life
- Apply knowledge to create and cracking a secret code
- Develop a dictionary of eponyms
Lesson Plans for this Unit
Lesson 2: American Folktales and Tall Tales
Lesson 3: Create Your Own Coded Language
Now that they've learned that language is invented and developed over time, the students get to invent their own language! The unit will culminate with the students creating their own dictionary of eponyms. Each child will introduce one or more of their eponyms into the vocabulary of their family and friends.