Get ready to discuss, share, play, create, and read your way to developing and empowering a strong character.
The seasons are beginning to change on Breakers Island. The squirrels know they need to begin collecting acorns now, before the colder weather arrives.
Story Focus, Virtues, and Life Lessons
- The value of work.
- Truth, Honesty
Life Lessons — Examples in Acorn Magic:
- Honesty/Work Ethics: The value of work (reality) versus wishing (magic).
Ryan said, “Earl, they are not magic acorns. Sammy took these acorns from me.”
- Truth versus Deception/Trick. True friendship versus playing a mean trick/stealing.
Ryan said, “Earl, you are my friend. Sammy played a mean trick on us. Help me carry these acorns back to my nest. Tomorrow I will help you look for acorns.”
Interactive Discussion and Activities
Reading Story Techniques
First, pre-read the story before reading it aloud with your learner. Use expressive language, gestures, motions, and sounds to make the story come alive:
- Make Sammy sound playful and carefree.
- Change your tone of voice for each character. Ryan should sound mature and focused, Earl should sound wishy-washy, and Sammy would be mischievous and sneaky.
- Show facial expressions when reading. Ryan is sad and confused; Earl is happy, excited and surprised; and Sammy smiles and laughs during his tricks.
- Make Yellow Bird sound concerned and wise.
- Change your tone of voice to excited and mad when Ryan confronts Earl with the truth about the magic acorns.
- Use appropriate facial expressions to emphasize the character’s mood: smile and laugh with Sammy pulling his tricks, mad and annoyed for Ryan when he catches Sammy, sad and disappointed when Earl realizes the truth, and wasting his day wishing.
- When reading the end of the story, soften your voice to show forgiveness
and friendship in the dialogue between Ryan and Earl. Show surprise and
rejection with Sammy.
Interject these questions to involve the learner:
- Where were the squirrels hunting?
- Who wanted to play instead of looking for acorns?
- What did Earl say when he wished for acorns?
- Why did Yellow Bird visit Ryan?
- When did Ryan see Earl wishing for acorns?
Use the answers to these questions to recall points in the story.
- Why did Yellow Bird fly down for a better look?
Sammy, a small gray squirrel, was running back and forth. Yellow Bird sat high in her nest and wondered, “What is he doing? What is he up to?”
- Why was Earl so happy that he danced?
Earl opened his eyes. He saw that a new acorn had been added to his pile. He was so happy he danced and said, “I don’t have to look for acorns. All I have to do is wish for them!”
- What did Sammy think as he was moving the acorns from Ryan to Earl?
Sammy thought, “This is so funny. Earl and Ryan don’t know I am moving the acorns.”
- Why did Ryan and Earl think it was a mean trick?
Earl and Ryan were not laughing. Earl hung his head and said, “I wished away the whole day. Now I have no acorns. Ryan, I would never take your acorns.”
- Note: Close with a discussion related to the importance of animals storing food to survive during the winter months.
Behavior/Social Development (All Ages):
- Teach your learner: honesty is the best policy.
- Teach the meaning of honesty – telling what really happened, telling the truth.
- Praise your learner when they tell the truth.
- Discuss possible consequences of not being honest in various scenarios.
- Define and discuss “Perseverance.” Share personal examples.
Acknowledge learner’s actions and behaviors that display perseverance.
- Inspire “the mindset” where success comes from hard work and practice. Give examples of famous heroes, performers, or prodigies who have demonstrated this mindset. Together read their stories and discuss their efforts.
Language Development (Younger Learners):
- Antonyms: up – down, open – closed
- Identify and discuss the meaning of magic.
- Identify and discuss wishes.
- Identify word patterns: Sounds “– all”
Bolded words, among the following, were used in Acorn Magic — all, ball, call, fall, gall, hall, mall, small, stall, tall, wall
- Discuss and demonstrate “honesty” (telling what really happened). Model several actions, telling your learner what you did after each one. Example: Pick up 2 Lego blocks and say, “I picked up two Lego blocks.” Demonstrate several truthful actions. Then switch out and repeat activity, by verbalizing what you did incorrectly. Pick up a book and say, “I picked up a doll.” Ask your learner if you said what really happened (did you tell the truth?). Your learner should respond with what you really did.
Language Development (Older Learners):
- Identify words that relate to honesty and truthfulness and make a list. Examples for honesty and truthfulness – integrity, honor, loyalty, right and principle.
- Brainstorm words and phrases that people may say when they give up. Examples are “quit,” “resign,” “bail,” “relinquish,” “drop it like a hot potato,” “I’m done with this,” etc.
- Ask your learner to think of things that could be said to encourage someone not to give up. Write down the list of phrases. Examples are: “I can do it!” “I’ll try again.” “I won’t quit.” “Hang in there!” “It’s harder in the beginning.” “Almost! Try again.” “You’ll get it. Keep at it!” “The more you practice, the easier it will be.” “The harder you try, the easier it gets,” etc.
- Ask your learner — On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you judge yourself as far as being a hard worker? Why?
Yellow bird watched Sammy move the acorns.
Discover the values covered in this story through guided activities and fun projects that ensure learner involvement.
Arts and Crafts ideas for Creatively Understanding the Virtues
Arts & Crafts Activities (Younger Learners):
Create a “Stick-to-It” award.
- Use a ruler to acknowledge (measure) stick-to-it-ness.
- Print “Stick to It Award” across the ruler with a marking pen.
- Choose a project or activity that requires time to complete.
- Mark a line on the amount of time they persevered in working on their activity. Each full inch can represent an hour.
- Measure their perseverance at completing the project/activity.
Arts & Crafts Activities (Older Learners):
Make a collage with the “Don’t Give Up” words and phrases previously discussed in Magical Moments’ language development activity.
Game Activity (Younger and Older Learners):
Consequence Game – Using the format of the game “Pictionary,” create cards that show instances where your learner will need to make a decision about whether to tell the truth or the need to lie.
- Younger Learners
Write/draw on cards scenarios like – a broken plate, crayon markings on the wall, spilled milk on the floor, etc. Once the picture has been identified, have a short discussion about the image. Ask questions like: What do think might have happened to the plate? How do you think the crayon markings got on the wall? How did the milk get on the floor? These questions will have your learner reflect on honesty and how to own up to the incident, should they have been the one that did it.
- Older Learners
Write/draw on cards scenarios like – a dent in the car, questionable movies ordered on cable, questionable charges from QVC, etc. Once the picture has been identified have a short discussion about the image. Ask questions like: How did the dent get on the car? Who ordered that movie? Who ordered from QVC? These questions will have your learner reflect on honesty and how to own up to the incident, should they have been the one that did it.
- Involvement Tips (All Ages):
Expose learners to stories about heroes who learned the value of work. Use real-life examples of people who have reached the top of their field because of hours of practice. Identify your learner’s passion, (music, sports, dance, art, writing, etc.) and use an example of one of your learner’s heroes who emulates the mindset of success coming from hard work and practice.
Continue with learning experiences to extend your stay.
Follow-up Activities (Younger Learners):
- Discuss/share feelings from the “Consequence Game”. Ask your learner how they would feel if they were guilty of the incident that happened and then lied about it.
- Extend the activity using other examples that would give your learner the opportunity to be honest and confess to an incident.
Follow-up Activities (Older Learners):
- Discuss/share feelings from the “Consequence Game.” Describe the images and ask questions like, “How do you think the dent in the car happened?” and “What should the person who dented the car do about it?” This lets the learner reflect on honesty.
- Extend the discussion to possible consequences for certain actions. For instance, if the dent in the car happened by accident when it was in a parking spot and the truth had been told, then there is no consequence. If a lie had been told about creating the dent when parking, even though it was an accident, there would have to be a consequence.
Real-Life Activities (All Ages):
Talk about incidents that have happened (to them or friends) in their world and ask your learner to give possible consequences that would result if 1) a lie was told about it, and 2) if the truth was told.
Those poor squirrels don’t know that Sammy is playing a trick on them.