When one of my daughters had just learned to ride her bike, she quickly got really confident to try things like go up a curb, peddle fast and make sharp turns. On one particular day she was riding through a thin patch of gravel that had spilled from a truck onto the street.
There Might Be Snow Cones
As she rode close to me on the sidewalk, I warned her that going fast through the gravel could easily cause her tires to lose traction and cause her to crash. She nodded and went back to riding her bike. A few minutes later I saw her go through the patch of gravel again and it was too fast. Her back tire slid which threw off her balance and down she went.
She wasn’t hurt badly–just some scrapes on her hand and a little road rash on her forearm. I went to help her up and take the bike back onto the sidewalk. She was crying and said she was going to get a bandage. On her way back into the house, coincidentally my wife was making snow cones for all the kids and asked my crying daughter if she wanted one.
Of course she did. And quickly she stopped crying and started laughing with her siblings as they ate their snow cones. After a few minutes passed, I asked my daughter what she thought the moral of the bike and the gravel story was. I was expecting her to say “listen to your dad when he warns you of danger.” At least, that’s how I saw the moral from my perspective. Her reponse was, “if you get hurt, go see mom because she might have snow cones or cookies to help you feel better.”
This little experience was a good reminder to me that each of us can take different things from an experience or story. We may see the same things or read the same words but interpret them in very different ways. Our activity in this post is about how we consider the moral of a story and how that might differ from explaining what a story was about.
The Woman And The Lamp
The following is a variation of an old story with an unknown origin. Read it with your kids but be warned that this is only part of the story. The end will come later.
In a New England town there was an old blind woman. This woman would walk through the streets each night carrying a lamp with her. One night while she was out in the street, a group of travelers saw her. They quickly realized that she was blind by the way she walked.
The travelers couldn’t understand why a blind person would be walking the street carrying a lamp. They began to make fun of her for being blind yet trying to light the way which clearly would not help her. One of the travelers asked her, “why would a blind woman need a lamp?”
Create Your Own Moral
Remember, a moral could have a positive outcome or could be a cautionary tale about what happens if they do something they shouldn’t. Have them write the moral down in a sentence or two.
Write The Ending
How Did The Old Woman Respond?
Now that they have written their own ending, let’s see how the story ends.
The blind woman said to the traveler, “It is true that I am blind and cannot see anything the lamp illuminates but I carry it for people like you–for people who can see. If I walk at night without the lamp, others may not see me and knock me over. Or I might scare them in the dark. I can also help those who are lost find their way.” The travelers who had made fun of the old woman felt regret and apologized to her.
I’ve started asking a few questions to my kids after I read in the evenings with my kids. This works well even the younger ones — Frog and Toad gets some good answers out of them. 1) What is the story about? 2) What is the moral or what does the story want us to learn? and 3) Can you find any other meaning from it? It’s fun to hear their perspectives and you might be surprised with what they have to say. Just because you think the moral is “always listen to your dad” maybe the deeper meaning is that “mom is gonna be there to cheer you up when life gets hard.”