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Faithlife

The Ant and the Grasshopper

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The Ant and the Grasshopper

The Ant and the Grasshopper
Retold by Michelle Whitworth
Retold by Michelle Whitworth
Narrator: In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to his heart's content. An ant passed by, puffing and panting, loaded down with an ear of corn.
Grasshopper: Hello there, would you like to sit and chat? It’s a beautiful day.
Narrator: In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to his heart's content. An ant passed by, puffing and panting, loaded down with an ear of corn.
Ant: Sorry, I can’t stop. I’m taking this corn to our nest. I’m helping to gather food for the winter.
Grasshopper: Hello there, would you like to sit and chat? It’s a beautiful day.
Grasshopper: Why bother? We’ve got plenty of food at the moment and winter is months away.
Ant: Sorry, I can’t stop. I’m taking this corn to our nest. I’m helping to gather food for the winter.
Ant: I need to collect the corn while it’s dry. I recommend you to do the same. Bye.
Grasshopper: Why bother? We’ve got plenty of food at the moment and winter is months away.
Ant: I need to collect the corn while it’s dry. I recommend you to do the same. Bye.
Narrator: And the ant went on her way, continuing to toil. Meanwhile, the grasshopper carried on enjoying himself in the summer sunshine. But when the winter came, there was nothing to eat. The grasshopper became very hungry. He remembered how much food the ants had collected, so he decided to appeal to them for help. He went up to the nest and spoke to the ant he’d met a few months before.
Narrator: And the ant went on her way, continuing to toil. Meanwhile, the grasshopper carried on enjoying himself in the summer sunshine. But when the winter came, there was nothing to eat. The grasshopper became very hungry. He remembered how much food the ants had collected, so he decided to appeal to them for help. He went up to the nest and spoke to the ant he’d met a few months before.
Grasshopper: Dearest ant, could you please let me have some of your corn. I haven’t eaten for days and I’m starving.
Grasshopper: Dearest ant, could you please let me have some of your corn. I haven’t eaten for days and I’m starving.
Ant: Why haven’t you got any food of your own? Surely you haven’t used up all your stores already.
Grasshopper: Well, actually, I didn’t quite get round to getting any stores. I’m afraid I was concentrating on my music. That’s what we grasshoppers do best.
Ant: Why haven’t you got any food of your own? Surely you haven’t used up all your stores already.
Grasshopper: Well, actually, I didn’t quite get round to getting any stores. I’m afraid I was concentrating on my music. That’s what we grasshoppers do best.

Ending one

Ant: Wasn’t it you I warned to think ahead? If you were foolish enough to sing all summer, you can dance through the winter. Now, buzz off! We’re not going to waste our precious supplies on a layabout like you.
Grasshopper: But I’ll die without food.
Second Ant: Tough luck. That’s not our problem.
Narrator: And sure enough, the grasshopper ended up starving to death.

Ending two

Ant: Wasn’t it you I warned to think ahead? If you were foolish enough to sing all summer, you can dance through the winter. Now, buzz off! We’re not going to waste our precious supplies on a layabout like you.
Grasshopper: But I’ll die without food.
Second Ant: Tough luck. That’s not our problem.
Grasshopper: Right. It seems that you leave me no choice.
Narrator: The grasshopper was much bigger than the ants so he had no difficulty breaking into the nest. He dragged away nearly all the ears of corn that the ants had spent all summer collecting. He even ate quite a few of the ants. They were full of protein – and not too bad once you got used to the rather prickly taste. So, the grasshopper managed to survive the winter after all. Unfortunately, the ants were not so lucky.

Ending three

Ant: Mmmm … you’ve really only yourself to blame. I did warn you to think ahead.
Grasshopper: Yes, I know that now. Please help me – I’ll die without food.
Ant: Well, I don’t know whether we’ve got enough to feed you as well as ourselves. I’ll have to go and ask the queen what she thinks. Wait here.
Narrator: The ant went off to see the Queen and ask her advice.
Queen Ant: Bring the grasshopper here to me.
Ant: Yes, Your Majesty.
Narrator: The ant took the grasshopper to the Queen.
Queen Ant: You realise that everyone in this nest has worked hard to save up food and that we have little to spare beyond what we need for ourselves and our children?
Grasshopper: Yes, Your Majesty.
Queen Ant: So, if we’re going to feed you, what can you do in return? You can’t have something for nothing. Can you cook or mend things?
Grasshopper: I’m sorry, I’m not a very practical sort of insect. But I’m very good at singing and dancing.
Narrator: Thus it was agreed that the grasshopper, who was an excellent musician, would be allowed to sing for his supper. Every meal time, for the rest of the winter, he played his fiddle, while the ants, who were only used to hard work, were able to dance and enjoy themselves to their hearts’ content.

Ending four

Ant: You’ve really only yourself to blame. I did warn you.
Grasshopper: Yes, I know that now. Please help me – I’ll die without food.
Ant: As it happens, you’re in luck. A new scheme has just been set up to assist insects like you. Just go up that hill over there.
Narrator: The grasshopper went off up the hill and came to a small office with the words Grasshopper Rescue Organisation over it in bold letters. He went into the office.
Clerk: Hello, can I help you.
Grasshopper: I’m starving and I’ve been told that you can help me.
Clerk: Correct. Just sign here.
Narrator: The grasshopper did as instructed.
Clerk: Now take this paper, which we call a GIRO voucher (for Grasshopper Rescue Organisation) over to that warehouse. You can exchange it for enough food to last you a week. If you need to, come back and get another GIRO next week. But you’ll have to prove to us that you’ve been trying to look for your own food in the meantime.
Grasshopper: Where am I going to find food? I haven’t seen any since autumn. I mean - where’s all this food come from?
Clerk: The Insect Parliament is in charge of the help scheme. All the ants’ nests have to donate some of the supplies they’ve collected to help insects that haven’t got their own.
Narrator: The grasshopper exchanged his voucher for a week’s supplies. And so it was that the grasshopper had enough food to survive the winter.

The Ant and the Grasshopper Notes

It was suggested on P4C.com that this Aesop’s fable might lend itself to different endings. I have written four endings, of which Ending one is the original.

Using drama or readers' theatre

The dialogues can be read around the class, performed as reader’s theatre or performed as a drama. With young children, you can always read the parts yourself. Using drama, especially with younger children, I have found it useful to separate the acting from the reading which allows:
• the readers to concentrate on the words and the actors on the actions
the readers to concentrate on the words and the actors on the actions
• more parts to be available (acting is always very popular)
more parts to be available (acting is always very popular)

Setting the scene

Decide which endings you want to use. Endings one, two and thee go well together. One, two and four might be more suitable for an older group.
Say that you have brought a traditional tale that was originally written with a moral. Explain what a moral is.
Say that you have given the story several endings and removed the moral. You want your class to decide, for themselves, the moral for each ending. You might need to explain that they don’t necessarily need to agree with the moral, in fact they might totally disagree with it or even think it is ‘immoral’ (this is especially important for ending two).

A suggested way of exploring the story

1. Read/perform the main body of the story.
Read/perform the main body of the story.
2. Read/perform your first chosen endings. One and two go well together.
Read/perform your first chosen endings. One and two go well together.
3. Ask the class to decide what they think is the moral of each ending – they can do this individually, in pairs, or in small groups as you see fit.
Ask the class to decide what they think is the moral of each ending – they can do this individually, in pairs, or in small groups as you see fit.
4. List all the suggested morals on the board. See if you can group them into themes.
List all the suggested morals on the board. See if you can group them into themes.
5. Ask people to decide whether they would agree or disagree with each set of morals and note the numbers agreeing and disagreeing alongside each (group of) moral(s).
Ask people to decide whether they would agree or disagree with each set of morals and note the numbers agreeing and disagreeing alongside each (group of) moral(s).
6. At this point you could proceed in a variety of ways:
At this point you could proceed in a variety of ways:
a) You could air some of the thinking behind the agreements and disagreements and then proceed as usual into the question formulation, selection and building.
You could air some of the thinking behind the agreements and disagreements and then proceed as usual into the question formulation, selection and building.
b) You could first take a vote on which theme the class wants to explore and then proceed to questioning, selection and building.
You could first take a vote on which theme the class wants to explore and then proceed to questioning, selection and building.
c) Or you could select a moral that seems contentious because it has attracted more agreements and disagreements. Ask people to sit on one side of the class if they agree and the other if they disagree with the moral. You can then run a discussion, perhaps (to start with) alternating between the two sides. You can allow people to change sides as long as they articulate why they have changed their mind. When arguments have been aired, you could even ask people to switch sides and see if they can articulate the opposite points of view.
Or you could select a moral that seems contentious because it has attracted more agreements and disagreements. Ask people to sit on one side of the class if they agree and
7. Steps 2-6 can be repeated for other endings.
Alternatively, you could take another contentious moral and explore that as explained in 6c.

Strengths of this approach

1. It can help a class that is having difficulty constructing philosophical questions. Morals offered often only require slight changes of wording in order to become philosophical questions.
It can help a class that is having difficulty constructing philosophical questions. Morals offered often only require slight changes of wording in order to become philosophical questions.
2. You highlight in advance which morals/questions invoke the widest range of opinion and which might, therefore, be fruitful for further discussion. You also have the opportunity for modelling the giving of reasons for opposing points of view.
You highlight in advance which morals/questions invoke the widest range of opinion and which might, therefore, be fruitful for further discussion. You also have the opportunity for modelling the giving of reasons for opposing points of view.
3. An active approach as explained in 6c can often bring a lot more people into the discussion, especially with children who find it difficult to sit in a circle and talk for long. For instance, I found it worked extremely well with a year 7 SEN group which includes some youngsters who don’t even want to be in school. More of them engaged in discussion and reasoning than previously and some were prepared to change their mind as a result of hearing other arguments.

Some examples of morals that have provided vigorous debate

• It’s OK to pinch things if people won’t share
It’s OK to pinch things if people won’t share
• Don’t say no to someone bigger than you
Don’t say no to someone bigger than you
• You get what you deserve (the ants had it coming to them because they didn’t have a good work/life balance!)
You get what you deserve (the ants had it coming to them because they didn’t have a good work/life balance!)
• You should have to work for your food to survive the winter.
You should have to work for your food to survive the winter.

My Analysis

An active approach as explained in 6c can often bring a lot more people into the discussion, especially with children who find it difficult to sit in a circle and talk for long. For instance, I found it worked extremely well with a year 7 SEN group which includes some youngsters who don’t even want to be in school. More of them engaged in discussion and reasoning than previously and some were prepared to change their mind as a result of hearing other arguments.
Responsibility
The grasshopper’s responsibility to take care of himself.
The responsibility of the ants towards the grasshopper. (Do they have any? Moral or legal or both?)
The grasshopper’s responsibility when he wastes his time vs when he can’t work through no fault of his own.
Who can best adjudicate issues like the one above: the federal gov’t or a more local one?
What rights do you have to the product of your own labor?
Sometimes the right answer to such questions won’t be obvious, but by laying out the options we might be able to start moving in the right direction even if we still aren’t sure of the final answer.
A certain activity may be considered nice and good. But illustrate for the children why it is that we don’t want a government that does everything that is nice and good to do. Illustrate why this would actually be a bad thing.

Activity

Have the children make paper-airplanes. If they make five then they get an ‘A’, four a ‘B’ etc. Have one student that doesn’t participate and instead goofs off. After they finish, tell one student who has made five airplanes that you will take two of his planes and give it to the student who goofed off, that way no one will get an ‘F’. Ask him if that is fair. What if you only take 1 plane from him and another plane from a different student. Would it be fair now (if so, why)?
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