There are essentially seven stages to a traditional legend or a modern story in legend form. 

Each of the boxes below shows a step. Within the boxes are the outlines of two legends. The words in blue are the skeleton of a traditional Polish Tale – those in red are from a ‘made-up’ legend that was set on Dartmoor. 

You can hear the full text of these tales on CD or cassette available through Listen Out Loud Audio Publishers – or you could just have a go at telling them yourself! 

When you have done this, collect a few traditional or local legends and see if they fit into the frame. It’s just like a recipe for cooking up a story! 

Maybe you could now try to come up with a story that follows the structure of a legend for yourself. Don’t bother writing it out in full – just a few notes, key words or even pictures (storyboard) to guide you as you TELL your story. Maybe later you might want to write it out.  

Type your notes up on-line (click here!) - we can put your legend together for you or you can type up the final version, e-mail it to and we will publish it for you!


Teacher Notes:

Basic Lesson Plan

  • Introduce topic and what the planned activities are
  • Draw up a grid like the one below on the board with the seven boxes and their titles
  • Use one of the examples here to model the seven steps
  • Go interactive - as whole group - put together a legend from steps 1 - 7 (even use a plot from a film as suggested below to show how it works!) filling in grid as you go
  • Either in small groups or individuals set task of building a legend using grids either pre-prepared by you or drawn up by the students. (Click here for William's example which leads you through the process)

Tip:  In some cases it may be necessary to provide useful vocabulary or even brainstorm some ideas before they start!


These are examples of legend style stories that David has collected in workshops he has led in schools. They were gathered from some Year 8 students – but the workshop has been used successfully at all ages. It particularly fulfils the requirement of The National Literacy Strategy – Year 3, term 2



Step 1 – The Setting: 

Describe a happy, healthy village beneath a hill. 

Set your tale in a village divided by a river – houses on one side, crops and orchards on the other.

Step 2 – The Problem is..... 

A dragon moves into a cave in the hill and begins to eat all the crops and livestock. 

A wandering Ogre moves in under the bridge – and eats all who try to cross! 

Step 3 – The failure to solve the problem 

The villagers try to drive the dragon away – but his fiery breath drives them off and burns the village. 

The knights of the village send their best knight to warn off the Ogre. With a cry of ‘I hate tinned food’ the Ogre opens up the armour with a tin opener and eats the poor man inside

Step 4 – Then a hero comes along.... 

The  wise man is called in to help solve the problem. 

The oldest, rustiest knight is recalled from exile and is told to save the village. 

Step 5 – And he has a plan. 

The wise man has secretly been working on a liquid to put out fires. 

The Rusty Knight – full of valour – decides that the best approach is a head on challenge! 

Step 6 – And the Solution is found! 

The wise man sneaks a barrel of his fire stopping fluid up to the dragon’s cave. In the morning the dragon comes out and drinks it to save himself flying down to the river. The fire in his belly is put out and the wise man drives off the dragon. He takes the Dragon hoard and uses the treasure to rebuild the village. 

The Rusty Knight tells the Ogre to leave or die – then tries to pull out his sword which is rusted in its scabbard. The Ogre laughs so much, he slips in his beloved green slime, knocks his head on a rock and drowns in the river

Step 7 – The Happy Ending  

The wise man takes the Dragon hoard and uses the treasure to rebuild the village. 

The Rusty Knight is polished up and made the new leader of the village knights.

I wonder if older students have noticed how this story shape is the same as many Hollywood blockbusting movies. See if you can fit the plot of Die Hard into this frame. It does work!

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