Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
Preparation for Activity
- Review and print out the story, "It Could Be Worse."
- Practice telling the story so you can present it effectively and engage children in their roles.
- Optional: Print the coloring sheet and copy for all participants. Place coloring sheets and crayons where children can use them when invited but will not be distracted beforehand.
Description of Activity
The Polish Jewish folktale children will hear in this activity rests on the silly image of farm animals living with humans in human family homes. Children practice identifying farm animals and their sounds, and gain a different perspective on how we humans make sure domesticated animals have appropriate homes.
In this fun and participatory story, a farmer lives in a house with his wife, their children, and the grandparents. The house isn't big enough for all of them. So he asks the rabbi for advice. The rabbi tells him to bring animals into his home too. First chickens, then goats, then cows, or whatever you like. The situation goes from bad to worse. After the rabbi suggests he take all of the animals out of the house, the farmer finds his home very peaceful.
Classifying animals into types such as zoo animals, farm animals, and wild animals is important for children. A wild animal lives differently than a farm animal. A captive wild animal, such as a zoo animal, lives differently than an animal in its natural habitat. Each has a different kind of relationship with humans.
Children love to play roles and to act out animal sounds. Before you present the story, assign roles to all the children as directed in the story, "It Could Be Worse." Allow the children who will be goats, chickens, or cows to discuss the type of home the animal lives in and the sound the animal makes.
Read the story through once. Then, tell the children you will read it again, but this time they will act in their roles. Point out the areas of the meeting space that you want to become the barn, the family home, and the rabbi's home. Tell the children who are pretending to be animals that when the farmer lets them into the house, they can make their animal homes inside the family home and make the noises they think the animal would really make.
After the second reading, ask the children who pretended to be the humans in the story how it felt to hear the animal noises in a human home. How was it to imagine sharing a bed with chickens, or a goat? Point out that farm animals have homes that humans build such as a pig sty or a dairy cow barn.
Including All Participants
Offer children the opportunity to color the illustration provided for “It Could Be Worse” to engage different learning styles and to help children focus on or relate to the story. A coloring activity can be a "preview" of a story. It can work as a quiet activity to help children physically settle. You might use it afterward to help the group recall and respond to the story.