Many fables teach children about the benefits of good behavior and good manners. The story of Kumba Am and Kumba Amul is a Gambian folk tale that tells the story of two stepsisters with opposite personalities. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this story. It teaches the general idea that when you do good and put good out into the world, you get good back. It also includes more specific messages about being polite, not taking what is not yours, patience, respecting your elders, helping others, and listening to directions.
You will likely encounter a number of situations in which reading the story of Kumba Am and Kumba Amul can help your students. This post will focus on teaching that good behavior is ultimately rewarded, even though that reward may sometimes take a while.
As you read the story to your students, have two columns up on the board. One column should be titled Kumba Am and the other Kumba Amul. As you read the pages about each girl, write down her response to the three challenges she comes across…the tree, the pot, and the elderly woman. At the end of the column, write the outcome of each of the girls’ journeys, both what happens when the break the eggs and what happens at the end of the story.
Afterwards, compare both columns as a class. Discuss what Kumba Am did wrong and what Kumba Amul did right. Explain to students that although Kumba Amul had a very hard life…working while Kumba Am played….she was very patient. The reward for her good behavior didn’t come right away, though, and that is another important lesson. She was patient with her life, just as she was patient during her trip to wash the calabash.
Relate this to your students by explaining that if you want good for yourself in life, you need to do good yourself. And your reward doesn’t always come right away. Explain to your students that, for example, one of them might always politely raise their hand although others are calling out, or they work very hard and study a lot, and they may not get noticed right away. But tell them that you as the teacher will do your best to make sure they ultimately get extra points for effort, or they may get recognition at the end of the year for being the best behaved student or a great friend to others.