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Lesson Plan

American Folklore: A Jigsaw Character Study

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American Folklore: A Jigsaw Character Study

Grades 3 – 6
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 50-minute Sessions
Lesson Author

Renee Goularte

Renee Goularte

Magalia, California


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives






  • A set of folk tales reflecting diversity in gender and culture, enough stories and copies so that students can work in groups of four, with each group reading a different story
  • Large sheet of butcher paper for a character study matrix
  • 8 1/2 x 11 white paper
  • Writing and drawing materials


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Compare & Contrast Map

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Compare & Contrast Map

The Compare & Contrast Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to organize and outline their ideas for different kinds of comparison essays.


Venn Diagram

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Venn Diagram

This interactive tool allows students to create Venn diagrams that contain two or three overlapping circles, enabling them to organize their information logically.


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  • American Folklore

    This folklore site contains retellings of American folktales, Native American myths and legends, tall tales, weather folklore and ghost stories from each and every one of the 50 United States. You can read about all sorts of famous characters like Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Daniel Boone, and many more.

  • American Tall Tales

    This site includes Tall Tales of many American heroes, as well as comprehension and vocab quizzes on these tales.

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  1. Gather a set of tall tales and/or folk tales that reflect diversity in gender and culture, using the American Tall Tales Annotated Book List or by downloading and printing stories from websites such as the following: The selection of stories and characters can and should be chosen to enhance and supplement additional student reading. You will need enough copies of each selected story for each person in each group. Each group will read a different story.
  2. Prepare the Character Study Matrix: Divide the butcher paper into a matrix with seven horizontal cells and enough vertical cells to include the same number of stories being read, i.e., the number of groups (see Character Study Matrix Sample). Label the columns across the top as follows:
    • Title (Left-hand vertical cells, under Story Title, should be labeled with the titles of each story being read.  Note: If possible, make the character study matrix large enough so that each cell is the size of a regular sheet of copy paper.)
    • Main Character’s Name
    • Appearance and Abilities
    • Setting - Time and Location
    • Relationships with Others
    • Problem/Solution/Accomplishments
    • Resolution
  3. If necessary, cut unlined white paper to fit cells on the character study matrix, enough sheets to equal the number of cells.
  4. Create heterogeneous, collaborative student groups with five members in each group.
  5. Make copies of the Jigsaw Group Discussion Worksheet and Jigsaw Group Self-Assessment Sheet, one copy for each group.
  6. Bookmark the following interactives:

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