Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of the story,"The Bundle of Sticks"
- A chime, a rain stick, or another calming sound instrument
- Craft sticks and large rubber band
- Optional: Newsprint, markers and tape
Preparation for Activity
- Read the story a few times. Get ready to use the crafts sticks and rubber band as props during the telling; directions are provided in the story text.
- Consider telling the story rather than reading it. Practice telling it aloud. Try to use a special voice for the old woman, not stereotypical, but reflecting her failing health and her sadness.
- Count the number of children in the group before you begin. You will use that number in telling the story.
- Prepare to tell the children about an experience you had working cooperatively with others, to spark their own sharing of experiences.
- Optional: Post newsprint where you will be able to write on it and children can see it.
Description of Activity
The story you will hear was first told by Aesop who was a Greek slave under the Roman Empire hundreds of years ago. Because he was such a good storyteller, Aesop was freed from hard labor to entertain the rulers. He was a wise man, and probably when he told this story he was thinking not just of how children in a family or a school group sometimes fight, but about adults, too - people in different countries, everyone in the world - and how much better the world would be if we all agreed to work together.
Before you begin, make sure the story text, the craft sticks and the rubber band are nearby. Take a deep calming breath, and tell the story.
Ring the chime (use other sound instrument) to indicate that the story is over.
When the story is concluded, ask children to help you gather broken craft sticks and return them to the story basket. Then resettle the group in a circle and lead a discussion to help children explore and apply the idea that we can do more, and be stronger in many ways, when we act together. This discussion provides, also, a way to model that cooperation means appreciating what each person contributes to a group. You may want to point that out, during the discussion.
If you like, use two pages of newsprint to capture children's ideas about (1) types of activities that are more easily done by a group and (2) actual experiences children have had working together in a group.
Begin by drawing out children's responses to the story. Then you will ask them to brainstorm together things that they have done that were easier with a group of people:
- I wonder why the old woman thought that her children wouldn't be able to keep the farm after she had died. (Prompt children to recall that the children couldn't get along well enough to work together and take care of the farm.)
- I'm wondering what the old woman meant when she said that if her children didn't work together, they could be easily broken like the sticks. (Prompt answers such as, "The children would have to solve their problems all by themselves / lack support / be alone / lack love.")
- Why did she think they would be like the sticks in a bundle if they stuck together? (Prompt for answers about being stronger together and helping one another.)
Next, lead the brainstorming. Ask children to think of activities they have done with other people that were made easier by people doing them together. Some examples might be cleaning their bedrooms; cleaning the house or their school classroom; baking cookies; making up a dance or a song; building something such as a Lego house or a snow person; acting in a play or singing in a chorus; shoveling snow or watering a garden; or completing a project for school.)
Next, invite them to share short personal experiences of times when they worked together with others, or felt supported by others. You may need to lead off with a story about an experience you had working cooperatively with others.