Get ready to discuss, share, play, create, and read your way to developing and empowering a strong character.
Imagine two brothers who are great friends but are not alike. One loves adventure and is always getting in trouble. The other is very careful and does not like to take risks. What is a mother to do with such different sons?
Story Focus, Virtues, and Life Lessons
Compromise and Safety
Prudence — careful good judgment that allows someone to avoid danger or risks.
“When the young cougars left the den that night, Glen was in charge. They played safely in the woods, in the meadow, and by the river. Glen proved he was a good leader.”
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:
- Start the story with a calm and confident tone.
- Change your voice to sound like a concerned mother when reading the mother cougar’s thoughts.
- Use different voices when reading dialogues between Ben and Glen.
- When reading Ben’s lines, you need to sound adventurous, mischievous,
and excited to do wild things. Ben is the reckless cougar brother. When reading Glen’s lines, you need to sound extremely cautious and concerned with safety. Glen is cautious of overly adventurous and possibly dangerous activities.
- Sound whiny and frustrated when Ben is complaining about Glen to his mother.
- Change your voice to sound wise with the mother cougar’s responses to Ben.
- When Ben finally asks Glen what he wants to do, sound humble and sincere when asking.
- Glen’s response needs to sound enthusiastic and confident.
- Ben’s response needs to sound eager to comply.
- End the story, as you began, with a calm and confident tone.
Interject these questions to involve your learner:
- What did their mother think about Ben and Glen?
- Who likes to take risks and who likes to stay it safe?
- When did the brothers play safely in the woods and meadow?
- Where did Ben want to play?
- Why didn’t Glen tell their mother about Ben?
Use the answers to these questions to recall points in the story.
- Where did Ben want to play?
The next night, Ben said, “Glen, I have some new ideas. Let’s go up the mountain and look for the red dragon. Then we can run through the corn field and knock down the scarecrow. We can go to the woods, climb a tall tree, and growl at the moon.”
- Why didn’t Glen tell their mother about Ben?
“Glen loved his reckless brother and didn’t have the heart to tell their mother the truth.”
- What did their mother suspect? Their mother was a very wise cat. She said, “Ben, let’s have a chat. There m ust be a reason that Glen feels so much safer here.” Then she asked, “Ben, did you give Glen a chance to tell you things he would like to do?”
- Who was always the voice of reason?
“No matter what Ben wanted to do, Glen always had a reason to stay in the den.”
- When did the brothers wake the farmer?
Glen answered, “Do you remember what happened the last time we went to the cornfield? A very angry guard dog chased us all the way to the meadow.”
Ben said, “What a racket! Her barking woke up the farmer. Forget the scarecrow. What about going to the woods? Don’t tell me you have something against tree climbing?
- Note: Close with a discussion on safety and acceptable risks. Discuss
setting boundaries, both literally and figuratively.
Behavior/Social Development (All Ages):
- Give examples of where and how to use warning discretions: Look both ways before crossing the street, stranger danger, etc.
- Emphasize the importance of being alert and aware of your surroundings. Today’s world is full of possible dangers and being ignorant of your surroundings is not safe. Discuss (age appropriate) examples of what, why and how to be safe in your immediate environment.
- To introduce the virtue highlighted in this story, begin by asking your learner the following questions: Have you ever made a decision (or done something) you wish you could take back? Why?
- Discuss the definition of “prudence”: knowing the right thing to do and then doing it. Discuss how and why things could possibly become much better or worse in the following example (age specific) scenarios:
- Taking the family car without permission
- Eating a snack before dinner
- Playing with someone else’s toy without asking first
- Borrowing a sibling’s clothes without asking
- Turning in a school assignment that was not completed
- Telling on someone’s behavior to a teacher, parent, or some other authority figure
- Identify the difference between tattling vs. telling on someone. Give examples and have your leaner say whether it was tattling or telling.
- Distinguish between what is important and what is not; or what is necessary and what is a luxury. Begin with identifying the basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing, then add “luxuries” your learner is familiar with.
Language Development (Younger Learners):
- Antonyms: always – never, he – she, in – out, lead – follow, left – right, lucky – unlucky, up – down, come – go
- Identify word patterns: Short E Sounds “- en”
Bolded words, among the following, were used in Best Friends — den, end, friends, happened, hen, hidden, kittens, men, pen, ten, then, when.
Character Names: Ben and Glen
- Identify and explain words that may not be familiar to the learner, such as “litter,” “longed for,” “tossed,” “budge,” “nudge,” “reckless,” “chat,” and “narrow escape.”
- Introduce the phrase, “Better safe than sorry.” Share personal examples where the phrase fits. Ask your learner to give examples as well.
- Ask your learner how they would handle a situation where they wanted to play one game and their friend wanted to play a different game. What would they do? Discuss the different options that would make both of the friends happy. Introduce the word, “compromise” and explain that coming up with a solution that satisfies both is called a compromise.
Language Development (Older Learners):
- Reintroduce the word “prudence” and discuss its meaning. Prudence is care, caution, and good judgment, as well as wisdom in looking ahead. A prudent person knows the right thing to do in each situation and acts upon that knowledge.
- Given the above explanation of prudence, make up various scenarios that illustrate the concept. An example – You are in the middle of taking an exam at school and are tempted to cheat by looking at your notes that are under your desk. You know that cheating is wrong and decide not to do it. This is an example of prudence in action.
- Discuss how prudence will guide your learner to be careful about their choices, to avoid saying or doing things that can cause harm or hardship to themselves or others, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Share examples that further illustrate the concept.
- Look up synonyms for “prudence” and use them in sentences.
- Turn the table around and ask your learner to look up antonyms of “prudence” and make up sentences using the words appropriately.
- Introduce the phrase, “Better safe than sorry.” Share personal examples where the phrase fit. Ask your learner to give examples as well.
- Ask your learner how they would handle a situation where they wanted to go to see a movie and their friend wanted to play a video game. What would they do? Discuss the different options that would make both of the friends happy. Reiterate the word, “compromise” and explain that coming up with a solution that satisfies both is called a compromise.
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 a daily schedule chart and have your learner color code the time frames — bedtime, school time, playtime, meal times, etc.
- Create approval/non approval signs by drawing a smiley face and a frown face on paper plates glued to Popsicle sticks. During discussions and activities, hold up the appropriate sign for the behavior, comment, or action your learner takes.
- Create a “must have” and a “want to have” chart. Ask the learner to name things they believe to be important and essential for them. Write their answers in the column they designate. Discuss their placement on the chart.
Arts & Crafts Activities (Older Learners):
- Create a “pros and cons” chart to be used for various decision-making needs.
- Create a painting or sign with the motto “Think – Act – Decide.”
- Create a “necessity and luxury” chart. Ask the learner to name things they believe to be important and essential for them. Write their answers in the column they designate. Discuss their placement on the chart.
Involvement Tips (All Ages):
- Talk about what your learner would do in different scenarios that are age-specific. Examples are: one cookie and two people, three friends and one bike, choosing between two movies to go see, etc. Discuss the process of compromising and reaching a conclusion that works well for all parties involved.
- Discuss various safety tips to be used in the home. Examples can range from never touching a hot stove (for younger ones) to never open the door to strangers when home alone (for older ones). Discuss why for each safety tip. End the discussion with the phrase “Better Safe than Sorry.”
- Discuss and teach your learner to consider the source — whose opinion to listen to and put faith in, for example, family members versus commercials.
- Discuss the consequences of thoughtless actions such as, eating a whole box of cookies and not leaving any for others. Encourage your learner to think before acting/taking. Share personal examples. Extend the discussion by creating the beginning of different scenarios and your learner finishes by identifying an action and consequence for that action. An example is a class being responsible for the ticket sales at the basketball game. Miranda took charge of the money box. After the game she ……. Your learner can finish the scenario in any way, good or bad. Based on the scenario ending, discuss the possible consequences and whether it was a good decision.
“Mother has no idea of the trouble you get us into when we leave home.”
Continue with learning experiences to extend your stay.
Follow-up Activities (All Ages):
- Play a discussion game and imagine taking a winter camping trip to Breakers Island. Your learner needs to make “prudent” decisions as to what they will need to take.
- Extend the game to a different season or geographical area of Breakers Island.
Real-Life Activities (All Ages):
- Discuss and show your learner how to prioritize by having a daily and/or
- Discuss and show your learner how to weigh (look at) the pros and cons of a situation before making a decision. Reiterate that seeking advice from an older and trusted source (like a parent) will help with making good decisions.
“The brothers were best friends. Ben always longed for adventure but it wasn’t in Glen’s nature.”
Ben would never admit to Glen that it was better to be safe than sorry.