Sunday, July 12, 2009

the crow and the pitcher

bringing aesop's fables to life

With Ina Jaehnig's class on Fairytales, Fables, and Legends, we discussed the pedagogy of stories in the lower grades (Kindergarten to 2nd grade). The second grade curriculum includes fables such as Aesop's short stories of morality. In the Waldorf classroom, the fables are told without the moral of the story being orally revealed. Developmentally, the second grader discovers for him or herself through the stories the lessons that the fables teach. The life lessons are revealed slowly in their own souls, on their own time, allowing for the blossoming of the Self.

Our assignment was to choose a fable and tell it, as if it was a classroom of young children. I chose The Crow and the Pitcher. The fable is short and simple: It's a hot day, and the crow was very thirsty. He saw a pitcher, but there was only a little bit of water and he could not reach it at the bottom of the jug. He had an idea. He dropped pebbles into it, which made the water rise, and he was then able to quench his thirst. The moral is: little by little, try and try, you succeed. A good life lesson.

It is in how the story is told that the fable comes to life. For the assignment, I gave each of my classmates, and our instructor, a pebble. I then took a black silk handkerchief and with a bit of folding, and a single knot, I transformed it into a crow. As I told the story, I asked each of my classmates to drop his or her pebble into the cup, each time making a clink as it hit the bottom of the cup. Then my puppet crow slurped up pretend water in the end.

materials: pebbles, a cup, a handkerchief

a crow fashioned from a black handkerchief

the crow peering into the water jug

With a song I had written for the assignment, I involved the class some more by having them sing a portion of the song with a major C scale (do, re, mi...), saying "plop, plop, plop" with each note. The song goes like this, alternating the C chord and G chord (I'll have to figure out how to post audio files):

A crow he saw
A water jug
But the water
Was too low

He could not reach
The water mark
So his thirst
Began to grow

He did not fret
For wise was he
An idea
He did know

Dropping stones
One by one
And the water
Did it flow

Plop, plop, plop, plop,
Plop, plop, plop, plop!

The water
Did it flow!

As the teacher, you can certainly build a week's worth of curriculum around the fable. Tell the story, do some math counting pebbles, go on a nature walk looking for birds and finding pebbles, learn how to sing a major scale, do a short play, write words, make rhyming words with crow.

It is the Waldorf way: integrated arts, music, and nature, with the child's spirit at the core of what you do.


Tan Family said...

I love the way that you used items from home to do this. We'll have to do this with the kids at home. :)

Jen said...

Rick - this is FANTASTIC! The girls love storyteller Jim Weiss and at the 2008 CHN Expo, he told this fable from Aesop. They LOVED it and often retell it in their play. I will have to do this with the girls - they will go nuts :). Now I need a black silk scarf...hmmmmm...have to contact the Syrendell sprites about that one :) Anyway, thanks for the inspiration. I am going to link you to my blog right now and will be following you along. You're already a fantastic teacher and the Waldorf community is lucky to have you! Blessings and light!