Get ready to discuss, share, play, create, and read your way to developing and empowering a strong character.
It has been a very long winter. It had been so cold that you have not been able to go outside and play. Now at last you can leave your home and walk in the snow. You walk to the river to go fishing and have no idea of the adventure ahead.
Story Focus, Virtues, and Life Lessons
Perception versus Reality
After Betsy and Dawn calmed down, each would tell the story of their trip to the river. Both stories ended the same way. The deer and the bear each said, “I am lucky to be alive!”
Truth: Baxter, the beaver, surfaces in the river.
The big fish in his mouth was struggling to get away.
Betsy told her mother, “It was a perfect day to go fishing. All of a sudden, I was face-to-face with a large, furry river monster with huge teeth.”
Dawn told her mother, “It was so quiet by the river. I did not see any other animals so I stopped to eat some grass. I narrowly escaped from a giant brown bear with a roar like thunder.”
“Truth” is in the eye of the beholder. Each character interpreted the truth of their experience based on what they perceived as the truth.
- Discuss with your learner that revealing the truth about a situation requires a detailed comparison of the actual facts versus perceptions.
- Discuss the difference between truth and fabrication.
- Share personal examples that can distinguish the differences. Ask your learner for their examples.
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:
- Imitate yawning when Betsy woke in the bear den.
- Pantomime shaking Buddy to wake him up.
- Breathe deeply as Betsy feels the cool air in her lungs.
- Look up from reading the story when Betsy and Dawn see each other.
- Add fear to your voice as Dawn thinks her thoughts about seeing the bear.
- Emphasize splashing sounds when Baxter comes to the surface with a fish.
- Demonstrate being alarmed and scared when Betsy and Dawn run away from each other.
- Add fear and excitement to your reading when Dawn and Betsy tell their side of the story.
- End the story with a grateful-sounding voice when reading, “I am lucky to be alive.”
Interject these questions to involve the learner:
- What did the bear and deer think about each other?
- Who was fishing in the river?
- When did the bear leave the cave?
- Where did the bear and deer meet?
- Why was the water in the Summer Star River “ice cold?”
Use the answers to these questions to recall points in the story.
- When did the deer become aware of the bear?
Dawn looked up when she heard the splash.
- What was the first reaction of the bear and deer?
Both animals froze in their tracks. They did not move an inch.
- Who left paw prints in the snow?
Betsy started her trip down the mountain. As she walked, she looked back at her small paw prints in the snow.
- Where did the bear and deer run for safety?
Each ran home.
- Bear: Betsy cried out in alarm. She turned and ran to Winter Wind Mountain.
- Deer: The red deer was so startled that she jumped and ran into Fire Fall Woods.
- Why did the animals have different reactions to each other?
- Bear: Betsy wanted to meet the deer.
- Beaver: Baxter was surprised at what happened next.
- Deer: In that moment, Dawn was filled with fear.
- Note: Close with a discussion on the difference between perception and reality. Ask your learner what things influence their perception.
Behavior/Social Development (All Ages):
Role-play or discuss scenarios with your learner where they must decide between telling the truth and telling a lie.
Here is a sample scenario:
Two friends are together when one drops a dollar without realizing it and the other one picks it up and doesn’t say anything. The person who drops the dollar asks the friend if he saw it, but the friend lies and says no.
- Ask your learner to describe how they would feel if they had lost the dollar, and how they felt to know a friend had lied to them.
- Discuss the right thing to do.
- Talk with them about how good it feels to tell the truth and do the right thing.
- Discuss the reasons why people lie. Examples are to cover up mistakes or an offense, to protect the feelings of others, to escape a consequence, or because of fear, etc.
- Ask your learner if lying might be necessary or good in some situations. Extend the discussion with justifications of why, when, and where.
- Create various scenarios that could fit the above discussion.
Language Development (Younger Learners):
- Antonyms: cool – warm, did – didn’t, in – out, he – she, up – down, sleep
– wake, small – large
- Identify word patterns: Long Sounds “ – o“
Words used in Paw Prints — go, no, so, snow, notice
- Identify and explain some words that may not be familiar to your learner, such as “fawn,” “gaze,” and “startled.”
- Discuss the definition of the words “truth,” “lie,” “honest,” and “dishonest.” Ask your learner for examples for each word.
- Provide stories with moral dilemmas. Turn the stories into a game by presenting two versions of the same story, one that displays honesty and one that does not. Ask your learner to pick the honest one.
- Example: Using the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, instead of walking into a stranger’s house uninvited and helping herself to food, Goldilocks sits outside and waits for the bears to come home.
Language Development (Older Learners):
Ask your learner:
- What are some reasons that people don’t want to tell or to hear the truth?
- What risks are involved in being honest?
- What risks are involved in being dishonest?
- How do you benefit from being an honest person?
- What is a phony?
- How does dishonesty turn people into phonies?
- What does it mean when you say that a person is “real” or “authentic”?
- What does being “real” have to do with honesty?
- It’s been said that cheating is just another form of lying. Do you agree?
- How important is to you that your friends be honest?
- Provide your learner with “What Would You Do” scenarios and two possible answers.
Sample scenarios: You find the answers to the class test you are having on Friday. Do you:
- Return the answers to the teacher without looking at them, or
- Study the answers to get a good score on the test?
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):
“Honesty Is/Honesty Is Not poster.”
- Divide a poster board in half making two columns.
- In one column write “Honesty Is” and the other “Honesty Is Not.”
- Ask your learner to tell you 5 or 6 examples of their thoughts for each column.
- Examples of “Honesty Is” are telling the truth, being sincere, keeping promises, keeping your eyes on your own paper during a test, etc.
- Examples of “Honesty is “Not” are tricking others, lying to others, taking something that doesn’t belong to you, breaking promises, etc.
- Record their answers on the poster board.
- Have your learner color and decorate the poster board afterwards.
Arts & Crafts Activities (Older Learners):
- Select an advertisement from a magazine or newspaper, or from radio or TV. Analyze it for honesty. Does it explicitly say anything you think is untrue? Is it trying to make you believe something that might not be true? Is it lying by omission, i.e., leaving out important information that would make a difference to you? Is it misleading in any way? Does it present any half-truths?
Involvement Tips (All Ages):
Share the saying “Honesty is the best policy.”
Review the thoughts in previous discussion questions and reiterate the saying.
Betsy was so busy fishing that she didn’t notice Dawn, a young fawn, eating grass on the other side of the river.
Continue with learning experiences to extend your stay.
Follow-up Activities (All Ages):
To help your learner better understand why honesty is so important, set up a few demonstrations that can give them a visual understanding of honesty and lying. Create two obstacle courses. One should be simple and the other one quite difficult. After your learner goes through both, ask which one was easier. Discuss how the one with all the obstacles represents lies that increasingly get bigger and harder to get through; which is why telling the truth is so much easier.
Real-Life Activities (All Ages):
- Share with your learner some universal truths. Examples – “there is nothing worse than not having any friends,” “truth hurts sometimes,” “your life is what you make it,” “life will never be perfect,” “tomorrow is not guaranteed,” etc.
- Discuss some of the qualities of a true friend. Friends are people you can count on, who you trust, who are honest and always truthful, etc.
- Elaborate on those qualities and teach your learner how to be a good friend.
Both stories ended the same way. The deer and the bear each said, “I am lucky to be alive!”
Baxter was surprised at what happened next.