Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Handout 2, The Road Not Taken
- Pencils/pens for all participants
- Newsprint, markers and tape
Preparation for Activity
- Review the questions about the poem and choose those you think will resonate with your group. The questions are meant to elicit interpretations of the poem and help children relate it to their lives. It is more important to use the poem well than to use all the questions.
- Plan to read the poem aloud. Or ask a participant or adult volunteer in advance if they will read it; if possible, give them a copy of the poem in advance.
- If the group typically includes more than eight children, consider forming smaller groups of three to five-as many groups as you have adult facilitators. Copy Handout 2 and the Description of Activity for each adult who may facilitate a group.
- Consider carefully what the poem means to you in relation to the purpose of this session. Articulate this in a one- or two-word sentence you can share with the group during the discussion.
Description of Activity
If the group is large, form small groups. Give each adult facilitator a copy of the poem (Handout 2) and a copy of the prompt questions (below).
Settle the group(s) for discussion. Distribute the poem and pencils/pens. Invite the children to read the poem silently and jot down any thoughts about it. Then, read it aloud or have pre-arranged volunteers read it.
Explain that now the children will practice listening and discussing skills to understand the poem from the multiple perspectives in the room (or small group). Ask participants to pay particular attention to the poem and their own reaction to it-not what others say about it.
Invite children to briefly retell the poem in their own words. What children recall and relay tells you what they found most meaningful or memorable. After they have shared, suggest a method discussion, a line-by-line exploration of the poem, reflecting on what each line means to individuals in the group. Use the discussion questions to explore the poem and children's responses to it. Getting through all the questions is less important than drawing out children's individual responses to the poem as a whole; if you are running out of time for the line-by-line study, skip to the final three questions to give the discussion a meaningful conclusion.
If the group has energy around a particular line, begin there. Or, start at the beginning and re-read aloud the first line:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
- Why do you think the color yellow (gold) is used? What might Frost be trying to suggest here? Have you ever been in a yellow wood?
- What yellow road is well known? (the Yellow Brick Road in Oz) Where did that yellow road lead?
And looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth.
- Why did the traveler look down the road to where it bent? Do you ever think about the future? What do see for yourself there?
And sorry I could not travel both
- Is it difficult to choose between two unknowns? Is it easier to choose or to be told what to do? Where have you had to do choose?
And having perhaps the better claim, because it was grassy and wanted wear
- What might this line mean? Do you ever make choices that are different from others but are better for you? How might this apply, if it does, to attending a Unitarian Universalist congregation?
Though as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same
- What does this line tell us? When do you make big choices, do you do so alone or do you seek advice? Who do you ask?
- How does knowing that others have had to make the same choice make a difference to you?
And both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden back
- What does this line tell us? (It implies that both roads were less traveled.)
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
- What does this mean to you? Have you ever made any choices that are less traveled?
Now step back and talk more generally:
- What about making choices is missing in this poem?
- Do you ever have people giving you advice about which road to choose? How does this help you decide?
- Do sometimes people not make a choice? What happens then?
Invite the group to consider the poem's first and last lines as one sentence:
Two roads diverged in a wood... and that has made all the difference.
- What does this line mean now to you? (You might offer something like "I think it means that making choices is what makes the difference in a life.")
- How is choice related to being a human being?
- How is choice related to be a Unitarian Universalist?
Affirm all responses and thank the children for taking the time to think about this poem.