Get ready to discuss, share, play, create, and read your way to developing and empowering a strong character.
All of a sudden you realize you are in real danger. What should you do? It’s too late to hide. Then you remember a trick your mother taught up. How well can you act? Could you “play dead?”
Story Focus, Virtues, and Life Lessons
Remaining Calm in the Face of Danger
Relying on the advice of an elder when you are in trouble. Remaining calm and remembering those words of wisdom to save yourself when you are caught in a difficult situation.
Wisdom and Truth
Oliver listened to his mother and followed her advice. It saved his life when he found himself in trouble with a large black cat.
Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement. Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality.
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:
- Show a surprised facial expression when Opal commented on looking for apples.
- Add a little chuckle when Oliver told Opal she worried too much.
- Change your tone of voice to show concern when Opal told Oliver to be careful.
- Imitate how Oliver “played possum.”
- Add excitement in your voice when Oliver realized he was safe because he “played possum.”
Interject these questions to involve the learner:
- Who is Opal?
- Where were the apples that Oliver wanted?
- Why was Opal scared for Oliver?
- When did the large cat see Oliver?
- What did Oliver do when the large cat jumped from behind the tree?
Use the answers to these questions to recall points in the story.
- Why did Oliver leave the woods?
Oliver said, “There may be some left on the ground. I want to go look under the apple trees in Mrs. Baker’s orchard.”
- What did Opal tell her brother?
Opal was scared for her brother. She said, “No way! This is too dangerous.”
- What did Oliver find in the apple orchard?
He ran from tree to tree but found no apples. All the trees were bare.
- Who was watching Oliver?
A large black cat suddenly jumped from behind a tree.
- How did Oliver escape the large cat?
The cat thought, “I’m wasting my time here. There is no way I’m going to eat anything that smells this bad.” He gave Oliver one last look. Then the cat left him for dead.
Behavior/Social Development (All Ages):
- Discuss the concepts of parental wisdom. Ask your learner what they have learned from their parents and/or grandparents. Share your personal examples.
- Discuss the importance of telling the truth. Use simple language to stress the values of being honest. Let your learners know that telling the truth feels good and is the right thing to do. Explain that lying can cause others to mistrust your word.
Language Development (Younger Learners):
- Antonyms: alive – dead, right – left, small – large, up – down, walk – run
- Colors: black, gray, pink, white
- Body parts: ear, eyes, face, head, heart, mouth, nose, tongue
- Identify word patterns: Sound “– ound”
Bolded words, among the following, are those used in “Dead or Alive” – bound, found, ground, hound, mound, pound, round, sound, and wound.
- Discuss with your learner the steps through which wisdom is gained: Try, Struggle, Reflect, Learn and Try again (T-S-R-L-T Shuffle). Share personal triumphs with your learner and have him/her tell you about theirs.
- Ask your learner the question:
- “If you want to stop being scared because you have to try something new, what would you do?”
- “If you weren’t afraid but your friend was, what would you say?
- Write responses down and then role play the act of comforting and encouraging a friend who is afraid to try something new.
Language Development (Older Learners):
- Teach your learner the T-S-R-L-T Shuffle. Discuss with your learner steps by which wisdom is attained: Try, Struggle, Reflect, Learn, and Try again. Share personal triumphs with your learner and have him/her tell you about theirs.
- Engage your learner in discussion about real life individuals who made wise decisions and the positive effects that followed. Reverse the process and tell stories of people who did not chose wisely and experienced negative results.
- Wisdom is understanding that “doing” is not the end of the learning process. Reflecting on what was done is. Wisdom is about learning from your mistakes, and being able to apply those lessons, so as not to make the same mistakes again. Share personal experiences and life lessons with your learner.
- Wisdom is about decision-making and action-taking, and most importantly, reflection. Have your learner share decision they have mad and the action(s) they took. Ask your learner to reflect on whether the outcome was what they expected, what they would do differently, and what they learned from the experience.
- Brainstorm synonyms for wisdom (insight, knowledge, understanding, perception, astuteness, intelligence, good judgement, good sense, etc.) and have your learner record the new vocabulary words in a personal dictionary.
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):
- Write the word “Wisdom” on a poster board in large, outlined letter and have your learner color the letters. Repeat the activity with the word “Truth,” and have your learner decorate.
- Create a “Look What I Can Do” personal logbook using photos of your learner attempting new things, such as riding a bike, swimming, sport activities, learning to play a musical instrument, etc.
- Have your learner draw pictures of them doing activities they know how to do. Then have your learner tell you something about the pictures. Write their words on the pictures, and place them in a prominent place where they can be viewed.
- Opossum Freeze Dance
Introduce the concept of defense mechanisms in nature and how some animals prey on other animals. The opossum’s defense is playing dead. Play music and have the learner dance around. Stop the music unexpectedly and have them freeze like a scared opossum.
Arts & Crafts Activities (Older Learners):
- Create a collage of pictures from magazines that reflect the wisdom of learning from your mistakes.
- Collect pictures from magazines, or the newspaper, of people’s faces that show various emotions. Make up stories that would reflect the emotion in the picture.
- Create a personal mantra for gaining wisdom, using the steps through which wisdom is gained (Try, Struggle, Reflect, Learn, and Try again).
- Build something simple with your learner like a picture frame, birdhouse, or a flower box with small pieces of wood, a hammer, some nails, and a ruler. Measure the pieces so they will fit together (math). Paint/decorate (art) the item, and then have your learner write or dictate a story about what you did and why you did it.
Involvement Tips (All Ages):
- Learners are watching and listening to you. Share your childhood experiences and the lessons you learned by listening (or not listening) to your elders. The openness and truthful discussions about your childhood will enhance your learner’s trust.
- Reinforce the importance of telling the truth “the first time” by rewarding your learner for immediate honest. Create and use an incentive chart where your learner can see the positive result of their actions.
- Talk with your leaner about what they fell they can do well. The purpose is to help your learner focus on their individual strengths by having them express their feelings and perception of what they are capable of doing well and what new skills they want to learn.
Then he remembered a trick his mother had taught him. She called it “playing possum.”
Continue with learning experiences to extend your stay.
Follow-up Activities (All Ages):
- Read books that demonstrate making choices.
- Read books to relay the importance of honesty. Read the fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” that illustrates how dishonesty can make others not believe you, even when you’re being honest.
Real-Life Activities (All Ages):
- Make safety a continuous discussion with your learner. Discuss the appropriate safety measures/behaviours pretinent to a particular situation, including taking notice, being aware of, and following safety rules posted in public places.
Oliver didn’t move until he was sure the large black cat was gone. Oliver knew he was lucky to be alive.
Please stay here and hunt with me. It’s better to be safe than sorry.