December 16, 2004

Stone Soup Lesson Plan

Today we hosted a "stone soup" party at our house for our hs group. We had a great time. We began the lesson with everyone on my couches and to my amazement 9 children sat in complete silence while I read "Stone Soup" by Marcia Brown.

For those unfamiliar with the tale, three soldiers go to a town looking for food and lodging and the town hides their food and lies to them, claiming to have none. Then the soldiers decide to make stone soup with water and three stones, they start stirring it up and mention different ingredients that would make it better. One by one people bring one ingredient at a time until they make a complete meal and share it. So each child brought an ingredient to share. We did not follow the exact recipe of the book as we have vegetarians (our family) and a dairy allergy. So we modified it as needed.

After reading and talking about the story, we washed hands and then we sat them all at the table. I called the ingredients out one by one and the person who brought it would come forward and add it to the pot (complete process: washing, peeling, cutting, adding to pot). Meanwhile the other kids were sitting at the table working on a book I made them with blank sheets and they had markers. On each page of the book they wrote an ingredient name and drew a picture of it and noted any observations they had. I made traceable letter printouts for the youngest in our group. We had our easel upstairs and the older kids took turns writing the ingredient name on the board so everyone could see how to write and spell it for their books. The children passed around each ingredient as it was prepared so they could see what it looked, felt, smelled and tasted like before it was added to the soup. Periodically we would show them the soup pot so they could see how it progressed. This system seemed to work well and we often had several ingredients going at one time. The older kids and moms helped with cleanup and then we waited.

While it cooked we sat the kids on the couches again and one mother had brought musical instruments for the kids. While I finished the dishes and got things ready for the meal the other moms lead the kids in learning several Christmas carols we are going to sing next week at a nursing home we are visiting for the holidays. The kids practiced Jingle Bells, Rudolph, We Wish You a Merry Christmas and played various instruments. Then it was free playtime until the meal.

We shared our stone soup (noone got the stone) and each child had to atleast smell and taste it even if they did not eat it. We also had rolls, a variety of fruit and apple juice. The kids finished and went off to play. The moms had our turn eating our meal and chatting while the kids played downstairs. We started at 10:30 and ended around 2:30. We headed downstairs to see the messes the kids had created after an hour of unattended play and to our sheer amazement they had cleaned up their mess, pretty well actually! We had seen it throughout the course of the day and it was very messy - I have quite a few toys down there and they are usually dumped all over the floor and they were but this time they were all picked up and put away.

I was so proud of the kids today. I mean we have a good group of kids but they really were outstanding today, well behaved, they listened attentively, cooperated, did jobs like dishes and sweeping without complaining, took turns, and even cleaned up well without being asked to! The age range was 3-12 with a median of 6. It was a great day and a lot of fun. I would recommend this activity to any group of people or even just to do with your own family.


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