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Snopes: Discovering the Truth Behind Urban Legends


Activity Website:
Tech Product/Equipment:
Computer and projector, Mobile devices for students

Activity Description

Snopes website screenshot
Source: (License: CC0/Public Domain)

While learning about urban legends, students practice reading skills, summarizing and paragraphing in speaking and writing, and hone their abilities to view media critically. Students use Snopes, a site dedicated to fact-checking news stories, past events and urban legends, to read and take notes on an urban legends. 


  1. Make sure the Web site is not blocked at your school.
  2. Browse through the Web site to become familiar with its organization and to anticipate student questions and difficulties.
  3. Download and modify the assignment document (Example Document), as desired. Make photocopies or e-mail it to your students.
  4. Plan an warm-up activity to introduce urban legends, a summarizing/paraphrasing practice activity, and, if you plan to have students make an oral presentation on an urban legend (see assignment document), a sample presentation as a model.
  5. For a summarizing/paragraphing activity, choose an urban legend from Snopes. Read it together as a class or have students read it multiple times. Then, without looking at the article, as a class (or have students do this individually) write a summary of the urban legend, stressing the importance of using one's own words and being concise.


  1. Begin with a discussion about "What is an urban legend?"
  2. Model how to use the site by projecting it. Then distribute the note-taking handout. If you e-mailed it to your students, have them open it on their computers.
  3. Students open their Web browsers to the Snopes Web site (Example Web Site, above). Discuss the fact-checking purpose of the site. Then move to the Legends link  to look at urban legends.
  4. Instruct and guide students to search for an urban legend, read,  and take notes.
  5. After student have completed the summarizing activity, you may choose to have students work with one or more classmates to plan a class presentation following the organization on the second part of the Snopes Legend Assignment document. Direct student to use props (pictures, objects) to help the audience understand. Demonstrate with a model presentation.
  6. As a final optional follow-up, students could be assigned to write their own urban legends.

Teacher Tips

More Ways

Program Areas

  • ABE: Adult Basic Education
  • ASE: High School Diploma
  • ESL: English as a Second Language


  • Intermediate
  • High
  • Intermediate Low
  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced

Lesson Plan


Ask the following questions:

  • What is happening in the news lately? 
  • How do you know it is true?
  • What can you do to investigate if something in the news is true?

Turn to your neighbor and think of a story you have heard recently. Is it true? How do you know?


Introduce the site, Snopes, (rhymes with "soaps."), fact-checking website. Explore with the students different current stories they might be interested in 'checking the facts.' Select several stories to read about at Snopes.

Open the discussion. Have students talk in small groups about a story, what they thought originally and what they found out from Snopes.


Discuss urban legends. What does it mean? How do they happen? How do we know if they are true? Can we use Snopes to investigate urban legends?

Turn to your neighbor. What are some urban legends you have heard? Share with the class

Engagement Enhancement

Students break into pairs or small groups. Each group selects a different urban legend to read about. Take notes.

After reading about it, share with each other your findings. Had you heard the legend before? Was the story true? How did the get legend get started? 

Share what you learned with the class. 

Engagement Enhancement

Hand out the assignment: "Legend' Assignment

Go over the steps:

  1. Individual students use the site to pick an urban legend they want to read about. 
  2. Take notes.
  3. Share your legend with a classmate. 
  4. Together decide which story you want to present to the class.
  5. Together prepare a presentation. You can create a slide presentation or bring a poster prop, picture, object to share with the class.
  6. The presentation can follow this organization format:
    1. Introduce yourself and your classmate; state your purpose (Today we would like to tell you about)
    2. Explain the legend in a few sentences using your own words, show the pictures, slides, object etc.
    3. Ask the audience if they have heard of this legend before.
    4. Ask the audience if they think the legend is true or false. (record the number on the board or paper)
    5. Give the answer from Snopes. (This legend is true, false, both, partially true, undetermined...)
    6. Provide an explanation.
    7. Thank the audience and take questions.
Engagement Enhancement

After the presentations have students discuss what they learned, about the legends and about presenting in public. What makes it difficult? What can be done to improve?

If you have discussed presentations before, you can have students evaluate in a peer review.

Engagement Enhancement Extension

How can you use this site, Snopes? Can you use this in your daily life? How? 

Go to the site, Legends from a small country, Hoaxes and legends: the rules

Is there value in what you read? How can you use it? Follow-up activity: check the other sites you can use to investigate if something is true or not (number 9)



  • English Language Arts
    • Journalism
  • Language Arts - Reading
    • Analysis
    • Comprehension
    • Inference and Interpretation
  • Language Arts - Writing
    • Organization of Ideas
  • Reading
    • Critical Thinking/Decision Making
  • Social Studies
    • American Government
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Social Studies Electives
    • U.S. History
    • World History
  • Writing
    • Paragraph Skills


  • Reading
    • CCR Anchor 1 - Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
    • CCR Anchor 3 - Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
    • CCR Anchor 6 - Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
    • CCR Anchor 7 - Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
    • CCR Anchor 8 - Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
  • Writing
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • Speaking and Listening
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • CCR Anchor 5 - Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.


reading, speaking, writing, digital, digital literacy, hoax, hoaxes, legend, legends, literacy, media, news, oral, paraphrase, paraphrasing, presentation, scam, scams, snopes, summarizing, summary, summary writing, thinking, urban, urban legends, advanced, critical, critical thinking, current


"The User may download, copy and/or share some content available through Snopes for its sole personal and non-commercial use and provide that the copyright attributions and all the other attributions requested by the Owner are correctly implemented."
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.