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Stone Soup Reading Activities

Reading Activities, Stone Soup

In the great children’s book, Stone Soup by Marcia Brown, three weary travelers arrive in a hostile and unfriendly village and win the villagers over by a wily “trick”. It’s a retelling of a popular old folktale that has several versions. This book never fails to engage a group when I present it in storytelling circles. It’s simple, but humorous and at it’s core, it shares a basic human truth. It takes a village or community working together to achieve good things.

We often do several reading extensions with this book in my creative dramatic classes and storytelling circles. First of all, we simply recreate the story by “acting it out”. A student or two take the role of the traveler or travelers. I let my students choose who the traveler is and let them know that stories can take many forms, depending upon the teller and the characters and what they choose to do in the story. After we’ve established who the traveler is, I then have each child choose a villager role. We talk about the different people that might live in a village, like the baker, or farmer. However, children have amazing imaginations and some of their villagers have included fireman, rock star, and princess.

Then we spend some time visualizing or even actually drawing or creating a house for each villager. Large sheets of drawing paper or poster boards can be used to allow each student to draw a home that fits their character. E.g. the Princess would have a castle, the farmer would have a barn with animals. We then tape up the village houses on a wall that becomes our village, with each student standing “in” their house as the weary traveler or travelers enter the town, looking for something to eat.

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As they bring out their magic stone to create that soup, we have each villager choose something they would bring to put in the soup. Some of their choices are typical like carrots or chicken, and some of them are quite atypical like popcorn or candy. Again, I let them create their own soup. We usually have some laughter about some of the choices as we think about what popcorn soup would taste like mixed with spinach and carrots.

At the end, as all the imaginary ingredients are put in the pot, we have an imaginary feast with lots of dancing and laughter as we “eat up” our soup. An additional extension to this learning activity is to actually make some stone soup by finding a stone and washing, scrubbing it thoroughly and then having everyone bring to group or class an ingredient to put in the soup, like carrots, or peas. We usually have them stick to vegetables and I provide the meat and broth base. We make our soup in a big crockpot and let it simmer during our acting out play and then have real soup at the end.

These two activities can be easily adapted to a homeschooling environment by either doing them with family or inviting a few homeschool friends over to share in a Stone Soup Feast.

Reading activities enrich the power of the story and engage the student in wanting to read and have more reading adventures. Lots of books can be adapted in much the same way. Use your creative thinking to choose one to create your own reading adventure. Additional examples include The Three Bears, Little Red Hen and The Three Pigs. In each, we always conclude with a fun food activity that lets us Party and Celebrate our reading.

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Additional Stone Soup resource: While looking for a link to post for the Stone Soup book by Marcia Brown I found this very interesting website with lots of Stone Soup Activities. Thought it might be fun to share! There are lots of activities with Stone Soup online.

Stone Soup
, by Marcia Brown