Looking for some educational activities that will keep your children warm this winter? How about reading the story “Stone Soup” as a family? This story is about a couple of hungry travelers who stumble upon a village. They expect the village to offer them some food, but each villager turns them down on their quest to find a meal. The travelers soon realize that the villages do not have any food to share and, therefore, they need to come up with a way to help everyone. The travelers start to make a soup with a huge cauldron and a few stones. Soon enough, each villager joins the travelers by adding an ingredient to the pot until a delicious soup is made! This story is great for discussing sharing and working together to solve a problem. There are many versions of this story; however, my favorite is by Heather Forest because it is the most up to date version.
I remember when I was in first grade, we read “Stone Soup” as a class. Our homework assignment for that night was for each of us to bring in an ingredient from home to place in our classrooms version of the soup that we would be making the next day. I don’t exactly remember how the soup tasted, however, I do remember all the fun we had making it!
I participated in this activity, again, as a college student at SUNY Plattsburgh, while finishing my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education. Again, my class of 15 twenty-something’s had as much fun making this soup as a class of six year olds! I do remember that, before we ate our soup, we each needed to share something that we were thankful for in the world and something we wished we could change. This brought a little more meaning to the meal we had just created.
Here are a few learning activities for this story that will engage children ranging from ages 3-10! You might even enjoy them yourself. Take a look:
1. For kids of all ages: there is a recipe for stone soup in the back of this book! This would be a fun way to get the kids in the kitchen to help make a meal for the entire family. You can even sing a special “Stone Soup Cooking Song” while you work. The lyrics for this song can be found here: http://www.songsforteaching.com/stephanieburton/stonesoup.htm. While you are cooking, you can discuss the benefits of each ingredient you put in the soup such as meats and vegetables. Your kids would be having a nutrition lesson without even realizing it!
2. For younger kids: they can make a puppet show of the story. Each child could make a paper bag puppet of his/her favorite character and props that they would need (such as the cauldron, ingredients for soup, and a stick to stir the soup.) This would be a great activity for kids to enjoy on a play date! This activity fits the first grade standard for reading literature that states, “Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.” Remember, your child doesn’t need to be in first grade to do this activity, though!
3. For kids ranging from 5-8: they can draw out pictures of the main events in the story and then sequence these events, in order, to make their own mini-version of the story. This activity fits the second grade standard for reading literature that states, “Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.”
4. For older kids: there is a reader’s theater script that you can find at the following website: http://www.marcias-lesson-links.com/Stone%20Soup%20A%20Readers%20Theater.pdf. You will need two children for this script or you can get involved and act it out with your son or daughter! Design costumes, props, and use vivid body language to act out the story. Older kids love to act out anything dramatic . This activity fits the fifth grade standard for reading literature that states, “Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem),” since the child would be acting the story out and therefore interpreting it differently.
5. For kids of all ages: you can discuss how kids can help make a difference in the world just like the travelers made a difference in the village. You can help your child research ways kids can help make changes in the world and your child can set a goal about how they will personally accomplish this. This could be something as small as donating a portion of their allowance each week to a charity of their choice such as “The Make A Wish Foundation,” or going through their closets for old clothes and shoes that don’t fit them anymore to donate to a family in need in your town, to making loftier goals such as running a food drive in your town and/or school district for families in need either locally or globally. For older kids, they can do research on their own and re-write the story, “Stone Soup,” with their cause as the plot and themselves as the main character. This will help them see that their goal to help someone is achievable!
Remember, when you engage your child in reading activities, not only are you encouraging your child to be lifelong readers by taking a break from watching television or playing video games, your also influencing your child that you can have fun with learning at any age!
Did you read, “Stone Soup,” as a child? If so, what activities to you do to accompany the book? If not, take a look at the book and see if you can come up with your own activity that your child would enjoy!