The story of Kumba Am and Kumba Amul is a Gambian folk tale that tells the story of two stepsisters who react differently when presented with the same situations. Use this story to help students learn about the importance of having good manners, showing kindness to others, and following directions.


What does it mean to have good manners? Ask students to share ways that they show good manners to others. Then talk to students about what happens when they don’t show good manners. For example, if they don’t say please when they ask for something, they often do not receive what they asked for.

Read the Story

Explain to students that you are going to read a story about two stepsisters. One stepsister has good manners. The other stepsister does not. As you read through the story Kumba Am and Kumba Amul, stop and ask students whether Kumba Am and Kumba Amul are using good manners.

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After Reading the Story

After reading the story, create a Venn diagram on the board. On one side of the Venn diagram write Kumba Am. On the other side of the Venn diagram write Kumba Amul. Work with students to fill out the Venn diagram, paying particular attention to how the two girls were different.

Once the diagram has been filled out, ask students the following questions:

  • Which character had better manners, Kumba Am or Kumba Amul?
  • What happened to the character who had good manners?
  • What happened to the character who had  bad manners?

After students answer those questions, have students think of one way they can show good manners like Kumba Amul. Have students draw a picture of Kumba Amul. Under the picture, write “I can show good manners like Kumba Amul by…”


Extending the Story

This story works well as a introduction to class rules and manners. Remind students of the rules for your classroom. Talk about why it’s important to follow the rules and have students share ways that they can show good manners in the classroom.

Throughout the week as you remind students to use good manners or to follow instructions, reference the story. For example, “Listen clearly to my instructions. Who can tell me what happened when Kumba Am did not listen to the old woman’s instructions?”

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This story is great to use with students to help set a positive tone in the classroom at the beginning of the school year or as a refresher in the middle of the year.