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Activity 1: Truth in Fiction (20 minutes), Session 10: To Tell the Truth

In "Riddle and Mystery," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Leader Resource 1, Fables
  • Paper and pencils
  • Poster paper and color markers
  • Timepiece (minutes)
  • Optional: Paints, paintbrushes, newspaper to cover work surfaces

Preparation for Activity

  • Print Leader Resource 1 and cut into slips as indicated.
  • Arrange meeting space so youth can work in small groups. Decide whether groups will perform their fables or illustrate them, and plan accordingly.

Description of Activity

This activity explores how truth can be found through fiction. Begin with a brief, full group discussion. Ask participants if they have ever discovered a truth from fiction in a book, a movie, a play, a television show, a comic strip or a video game. Remind them that fiction is a made-up story. Invite responses and ask what truth the story revealed to them.

Form groups of three or four at work tables. Give each small group a slip of paper with a fable from Leader Resource 1. Distribute paper, pencils and art supplies. Give the following instruction:

Read your fable, write a moral or truth to sum up the fable, and illustrate the fable with the art supplies [or, plan a performance of your fable for the rest of the group]. You will have eight minutes to work. Then, each group can present their fable, their truth and their art work.

After eight minutes, gather the large group for presentations. Groups should read their fables aloud and share their illustrations (or act out their fables). After each presentation, engage first the small group and then the entire group to suggest what truth the story illustrates. Here are possible morals for each of the fables:

1. The Golden Eggs: Greed destroys wealth. Think before you act. Wanting too much can cost you everything.

2. The Wagon Driver: The gods help those who help themselves. If you help yourself, more help will come.

3. The Fox and the Grapes: It is easy to dislike what you cannot have.

4. The Miser and the Gold: Wealth you do not use has as much value as a hole in the ground.

5. The Fox and the Crow: Never trust a flatterer.

6. The Shepherd Boy: Known liars are not believed, even when they tell the truth.

Tell the group that these fables are attributed to Aesop, an ancient Greek storyteller. Aesop's Fables belong to a larger category of stories called wisdom tales. Wisdom tales are a part of the human oral tradition. Before we had books, people passed their wisdom to the next generations by telling stories like these. Sometimes we tell wisdom tales in religious education and in worship services—see if the youth can think of any. Discuss the relationship between wisdom tales and the truth, with these questions:

  • Are the fables "true?" Did the activities described in them really happen?
  • Even if the activities did not happen, do the fables illustrate a "truth?" Do you disagree with any of the "truths" in these fables? Which ones/why?
  • What does truth mean?
  • Can something be true in one situation, but not in another? Can you think of an example?
  • Who gets to decide whether something is true?
  • Does public opinion make a difference about what is true?
  • Can your truth be different from my truth?

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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