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Review by Kristen Bentley

A bit about the author: Kristen has been teaching High school English since 1994. Mother of two and professional writer with a m aster’s degree in education. She loves to read, travel, watch baseball, and watch her children play sports, too.

Stone Soup: Learning about Sharing

The classic tale of Stone Soup comes alive in the rendition offered by iStoryBooks.co. In this version, the traveler stops in a village where no one shares with each other. To try to get some food to fill his empty belly, he uses a little stone to get the villagers to donate food for a large pot of community soup. The traveler is a smart man who is able to entice the villagers to donate their food without them even realizing they are donating food.

Bringing Villagers Together

In order to get the villagers to share their food with him, the traveler picks up a stone from the ground and explains that he can use it to make soup. The first villager he meets offers to cook the stone in a pot of water. After he tastes the hot water, he suggests adding some spices and butter. The villager agrees and she adds butter and salt to the pot. This gives the soup an aroma that begins to infiltrate the neighboring homes. Pretty soon, the traveler is able to talk the person he meets into putting carrots and potatoes into the pot, which draws another villager into the home. This villager offers turnips and beans, which increases the smell of the soup. Eventually, word spreads that a traveler was making a soup from a stone. This brought many more villagers out of their homes with items like broth and chicken, too.

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After the soup was left to boil and simmer, the traveler tasted the soup. After he declared it delicious, he shared a bowl with every villager in the small town. Once the soup was nearly gone, the villagers commented about the stone and how it had to have been used up by so many people sipping on the soup. The traveler took the whole stone out of the soup, which made the villagers realize that the soup came from them and not the stone. Their sudden realization made them change their ways and go from being a group of stingy people to a kind, caring, and sharing community.

Learning Opportunities for Classroom Clean Up

This story has plenty of learning opportunities for parents and teachers to share with children. The first is the idea of sharing and how many hands make light work. If the one family shared food with the stranger, that family would have been out more food than they could afford. However, when the entire community came together, they were able to give one thing and make enough food for the whole town.  Teachers and parents could use this example when it comes to children cleaning up after themselves. When an entire classroom leaves a mess for one person to clean, that person will spend a long time cleaning the room. However, when the entire class chips in to help tidy up the room, the job will get done quickly.

Making Stone Soup in the Classroom

Since Stone Soup has been around for many years, there have been many teachers who have made stone soup with their classrooms. This could be an interesting task, especially in a classroom filled with students of varying ethnicities. Students can bring in their favorite hearty, savory ingredients, like spices or vegetables, and make a soup together. It is important that teachers are aware of any food allergies and sensitivities before they decide to do this group activity so that every child can participate.

Stone Soup and the Connection to Ancient Greek Mythology

Many children are interested in the Ancient Greek mythology and Stone Soup could be used along with ancient stories and the idea of xenia. In ancient times, travelers did not have hotels to sleep in while they traveled from place to place. Instead, they had to rely on the kindness of strangers. Xenia was the Greek way of caring for strangers. This concept was closely guarded by Zeus who would punish people who took advantage of strangers. It was expected that hosts would house a stranger as well as feed the stranger and clean his feet. In turn, the stranger would give something back to the host, like wine or cheese or even a good night of storytelling. The guest should not overstay his welcome and the host should never be rude to the guest. Both the traveler and the host were always worried that the other person was a god or goddess, so they would treat each other with utmost respect.