Get ready to discuss, share, play, create, and read your way to developing and empowering a strong character.
You and your friends love where you live. Then some news arrives and no one understands what it means. Soon everyone is spreading the news and still no one really knows the truth.
Story Focus, Virtues, and Life Lessons
A group of friends begins talking about a topic without knowing all the facts. Soon the gossip spreads fear among the group.
Wisdom and Truth
Shelley, the spider, only shared what she knew was true.
“Haley, I have news but I am not sure it’s good.” answered Shelley. The news spread like wildfire. All the animals talked at once. (Gossip)
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:
- Begin the story in a slow, soft voice and shiver your body to portray being cold.
- Sound like a man to portray all Farmer John’s lines.
- Change your tone of voice when reading Shelley, the spider’s lines.
- Change your tone of voice when reading Haley, the horse’s lines.
- Sound worried and concerned when Shelley talks about the meeting she overheard.
- When reading the animals’ reaction to the news that Shelly has told them, change your voice to make the appropriate animal sounds.
- Stomp your feet when reading Haley, the horse’s reaction to the news.
- Sound excited and upset while reading the animals’ reaction to the news.
- Raise your voice higher and higher each time you read an animal’s lines.
- Bark before reading Belle’s command, “Be quiet!”
- Again change your tones of voice for the dialogue between Farmer John and Joe at the end of the story.
Interject these questions to involve your learner:
- What happened when the wind blew through the trees?
- Why did Farmer John get his coat?
- Where was Joe when he drew a picture?
- Who reported the news from the meeting to the animals?
- When did the animals begin to gossip?
Use the answers to these questions to recall points in the story.
- What did Shelley think about Farmer John meeting with Joe, the handyman?
She thought, “Maybe there is something in the barn that needs to be fixed.”
- When did the animals begin talking about the visitor?
The animals didn’t think too much about their visitor until Shelley came with news.
- What did Shelley report to the animals?
Shelley continued, “After that, he had a meeting with Farmer John. I heard them talking about the size of the barn. Joe told Farmer John there were too many animals.”
- Why did Kelly say to Belle, “Boy, am I glad we live in the house.”
The gossip had spread and the animals feared for the worst when they heard “too many animals in the barn.”
- What would you have thought if you had been one of the animals?
- Note: Close with a discussion on the difference in reporting facts and spreading gossip.
Behavior/Social Development (All Ages):
- It is wise to take time to reflect on possible consequences and outcomes of a decision. Discuss the importance of stopping to think first before making final decisions.
- Discuss how some things we hear are really not true — they are “make believe.” Give examples of make-believe, such as cartoons, science fiction stories, fables, and legends. Extend the discussion by examining some of the television shows you and your learner watch.
- Discuss with your learner the importance of actively thinking about what they see and hear. The media provides great opportunities to learn the skill of reflection. Choose a familiar television show and ask simple questions about the characters, situations, and outcomes. By answering the questions, your learner is actively thinking and reflecting.
- Discuss how important it is for your learner to always tell the truth so that other people will trust them.
- Discuss what a “gossip” is and how it feels if you’re the subject of the gossip.
Language Development (Younger Learners):
- Antonyms: cold – warm, in – out, sleep – wake, yes – no, opened – closed
- Identify word patterns: Long O Sounds “ – oat”
Bolded words, among the following, are those used in Barn Gossip — oat, boat, coat, goat, moat, bloat, float, gloat
- Color: yellow
- Different spelling and meanings: hear and here; know and no; to and too; their and there
- Identify and explain words that may not be familiar to your learner, such as “attic,” “eager,” and “hooves.”
- Ask your learner what is a “lie.”
Language Development (Older Learners):
- Discuss the difference between a lie and a fib. Give examples and have your learner identify it as a lie or a fib. Ask your learner when it is okay to tell a fib. Is it ever okay to tell a lie?
- Discuss various situations where it is highly important to tell the truth. Examples – when someone may be in danger or when confronting the legal system, law enforcement, doctor, etc.
- Remind your learner that the truth always comes out in the end and that lying only makes the situation far worse than it may be. Share personal examples.
- Discuss the importance of keeping promises. Ask your learner if someone is lying if they do not follow through with what they promised? Extend the discussion by talking about how it feels when a promise has been broken. Help develop and encourage empathy in your learner.
- Discuss the meaning of “gossip” and cite examples. Brainstorm the different places where you would see and hear gossiping? (Magazines, among friends, social media outlets, etc.)
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):
- Make truth and lie signs out of paper plates and Popsicle sticks. Decorate the signs with a smiley face for truth and a sad face for the lie. Play the game Truth or Lie. Make simple statements and have your learner choose whether it is the truth or it is a lie.
- Color a picture of Pinocchio and tell (or read) the story to your learner.
- Make sock puppets and put on puppet shows where a puppet keeps his promise and another where the puppet does not follow through with his promise.
Arts & Crafts Activities (Older Learners):
- Make a fantasy collage with pictures of adventures they would consider doing. Ask your learner if they would really do it and how they would make it a reality.
- Create a personal mantra sign for telling the truth.
Involvement Tip (All Ages):
Be mindful not to gossip about others when conversing with other adults. Show your learner how to ask the right questions when clarifying facts about a situation. Remind your learner that hearing information from others may be their perception of what is accurate.
The horse saw the spider enter the barn and said, “Shelley, what good news do you have for us today?”
Continue with learning experiences to extend your stay.
Follow-up Activities (All Ages):
Discuss your learner’s feelings when:
- They had a promise made to them and the promise was broken.
- They have been lied to.
- They have told a lie and when they have been truthful.
- They heard gossip that was about them.
Real-Life Activities (All Ages):
- Engage your learner in conversation about real, live people who suffered negative consequences because they made rash decisions without thinking them through.
- Engage your learner in discussions regarding their money decisions to help them actively think and reflect on making wise purchases.
- Discuss using good judgment in their choice of friends to help teach your learner the ways of wisdom. People will judge a person by the type of individuals they hang out with.
The news spread like wildfire. All the animals talked at once.