Author Topic: Short stories for children's assembly  (Read 10202 times)

Offline Theseus

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Short stories for children's assembly
« on: January 08, 2013, 11:27:12 PM »
As a teacher, at the end of this week I've been asked to deliver a 10 minute assembly to about a 100 6-10 Year olds. I've not done this before. I've looked at a few stories I could read out but just wondered if anyone was aware of or had any links to engaging short stories with a good message? If I had more time I'd quite like to write one but at the moment looking to tweak an existing one to make it more in-tune with our philosophy.

An example I found is here: _http://www.assemblies.org.uk/2002/nov02_rules.html although I'd drop the religious references and wouldn't deliver it with a 'follow rules' message but on courage and honesty.
No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected.
Julius Caesar

Offline sludgeco

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2013, 12:06:14 AM »
One of my favorites has always been "the giving tree" which may be a stretch for 10 minutes but its got a great message. You are probably familiar with it? It's well illustrated too if you're providing visual aid, here's the text.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/12395693/The-Giving-Tree

Offline anart

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2013, 12:07:34 AM »
One of my favorites has always been "the giving tree" which may be a stretch for 10 minutes but its got a great message. You are probably familiar with it? It's well illustrated too if you're providing visual aid, here's the text.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/12395693/The-Giving-Tree

Actually, the giving tree is a pretty psychopathic story that encourages people to be used until there is nothing left.  I'm pretty sure we have a thread on it somewhere.  (sorry to rain on the giving tree parade)

Offline sludgeco

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2013, 12:10:28 AM »
One of my favorites has always been "the giving tree" which may be a stretch for 10 minutes but its got a great message. You are probably familiar with it? It's well illustrated too if you're providing visual aid, here's the text.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/12395693/The-Giving-Tree

Actually, the giving tree is a pretty psychopathic story that encourages people to be used until there is nothing left.  I'm pretty sure we have a thread on it somewhere.  (sorry to rain on the giving tree parade)
Don't be sorry haha I never really thought about it that way. Obviously the person in the story uses everything the tree's got, but I always thought the tree was almost an example of an STO entity. What you're saying makes sense though, sorry for the bad idea Pob. Time to find that thread..

Offline Nuke

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2013, 12:12:09 AM »
How short? More like an anecdote or can it be like a page-long?

One of the first ones that came to mind was The Farmer's Donkey. _http://www.naute.com/stories/donkey.phtml

Quote
The Farmer's Donkey

 One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out a way to get him out. Finally he decided it was probably impossible and the animal was old and the well was dry anyway, so it just wasn't worth it to try and retrieve the donkey. So the farmer asked his neighbors to come over and help him cover up the well. They all grabbed shovels and began to shovel dirt into the well.

At first, when the donkey realized what was happening he cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down and let out some happy brays. A few shovel loads later, the farmer looked down the well to see what was happening and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was shaking it off and taking a step up. (Shifting)

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he continued to shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, to everyone's amazement, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!

Moral: Life is going to shovel dirt on you. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Every adversity can be turned into a stepping stone. The way to get out of the deepest well is by never giving up but by shaking yourself off and taking a step up.

What happens to you isn't nearly as important as how you react to it
.

The Italized part was probably added by whoever put it up on the website but you could even include that if you think that would fit what you had in mind for the assembly.

This is one of the cleaner stories. I have a collection of the Original Grimm Fairytales, in which the stories are unlike the versions we know today and there's one with a cat and a mouse who are friends and live together and they share a can of fat for the winter (they hid it in the church) but the cat keeps excusing himself, leaving the house and every time he goes to one of his nephew's baptism...anyway, LSS, he gradually steals the fat and when they both go look the mouse looks at the cat and asks, did you really...? before he could finish the sentence the cat eats him. And the story ends: 'And that's the way of the world'. I could even copy that story in here if you need it.

Actually, found it online. Not the best translation but fwiw: _http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/grimm/bl-grimm-catmouse.htm

Quote
Cat and Mouse in Partnership

by The Brothers Grimm

translated by Margaret Taylor (1884)

A certain cat had made the acquaintance of a mouse, and had said so much to her about the great love and friendship she felt for her, that at length the mouse agreed that they should live and keep house together. “But we must make a provision for winter, or else we shall suffer from hunger,” said the cat, “and you, little mouse, cannot venture everywhere, or you will be caught in a trap some day.” The good advice was followed, and a pot of fat was bought, but they did not know where to put it. At length, after much consideration, the cat said, “I know no place where it will be better stored up than in the church, for no one dares take anything away from there. We will set it beneath the altar, and not touch it until we are really in need of it.” So the pot was placed in safety, but it was not long before the cat had a great yearning for it, and said to the mouse, “I want to tell you something, little mouse; my cousin has brought a little son into the world, and has asked me to be godmother; he is white with brown spots, and I am to hold him over the font at the christening. Let me go out to-day, and you look after the house by yourself.” “Yes, yes,” answered the mouse, “by all means go, and if you get anything very good, think of me, I should like a drop of sweet red christening wine too.” All this, however, was untrue; the cat had no cousin, and had not been asked to be godmother. She went straight to the church, stole to the pot of fat, began to lick at it, and licked the top of the fat off. Then she took a walk upon the roofs of the town, looked out for opportunities, and then stretched herself in the sun, and licked her lips whenever she thought of the pot of fat, and not until it was evening did she return home. “Well, here you are again,” said the mouse, “no doubt you have had a merry day.” “All went off well,” answered the cat. “What name did they give the child?” “Top off!” said the cat quite coolly. “Top off!” cried the mouse, “that is a very odd and uncommon name, is it a usual one in your family?” “What does it signify,” said the cat, “it is no worse than Crumb-stealer, as your god-children are called.”

Before long the cat was seized by another fit of longing. She said to the mouse, “You must do me a favour, and once more manage the house for a day alone. I am again asked to be godmother, and, as the child has a white ring round its neck, I cannot refuse.” The good mouse consented, but the cat crept behind the town walls to the church, and devoured half the pot of fat. “Nothing ever seems so good as what one keeps to oneself,” said she, and was quite satisfied with her day's work. When she went home the mouse inquired, “And what was this child christened?” “Half-done,” answered the cat. “Half-done! What are you saying? I never heard the name in my life, I'll wager anything it is not in the calendar!”

The cat's mouth soon began to water for some more licking. “All good things go in threes,” said she, “I am asked to stand godmother again. The child is quite black, only it has white paws, but with that exception, it has not a single white hair on its whole body; this only happens once every few years, you will let me go, won't you?” “Top-off! Half-done!” answered the mouse, “they are such odd names, they make me very thoughtful.” “You sit at home,” said the cat, “in your dark-grey fur coat and long tail, and are filled with fancies, that's because you do not go out in the daytime.” During the cat's absence the mouse cleaned the house, and put it in order but the greedy cat entirely emptied the pot of fat. “When everything is eaten up one has some peace,” said she to herself, and well filled and fat she did not return home till night. The mouse at once asked what name had been given to the third child. “It will not please you more than the others,” said the cat. “He is called All-gone.” “All-gone,” cried the mouse, “that is the most suspicious name of all! I have never seen it in print. All-gone; what can that mean?” and she shook her head, curled herself up, and lay down to sleep.

From this time forth no one invited the cat to be god-mother, but when the winter had come and there was no longer anything to be found outside, the mouse thought of their provision, and said, “Come cat, we will go to our pot of fat which we have stored up for ourselves—-we shall enjoy that.” “Yes,” answered the cat, “you will enjoy it as much as you would enjoy sticking that dainty tongue of yours out of the window.” They set out on their way, but when they arrived, the pot of fat certainly was still in its place, but it was empty. “Alas!” said the mouse, “now I see what has happened, now it comes to light! You are a true friend! You have devoured all when you were standing godmother. First top off, then half done, then —.” “Will you hold your tongue,” cried the cat, “one word more and I will eat you too.” “All gone” was already on the poor mouse's lips; scarcely had she spoken it before the cat sprang on her, seized her, and swallowed her down. Verily, that is the way of the world.

'Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back' Chinese proverb

"The waking have one world in common; sleepers have each a private world of his own. " Heraclitus

Offline anart

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2013, 12:16:34 AM »
How short? More like an anecdote or can it be like a page-long?

One of the first ones that came to mind was The Farmer's Donkey. _http://www.naute.com/stories/donkey.phtml

Quote
The Farmer's Donkey

I don't know - if I were 6 years old, that would scare the heck out of me!!

How about using this Chinese parable as a base to talk about each of them doing what they can do to make the world a better place:

Quote from:
One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying on its back with its tiny feet up in the air. "What are you doing?" asked the elephant. The hummingbird replied, "I heard that the sky might fall today, and so I am ready to help hold it up, should it fall." The elephant laughed cruelly. "Do you really think," he said, "that those tiny feet could help hold up the sky?" The hummingbird kept his feet up in the air, intent on his purpose, as he replied, "Not alone. But each must do what he can. And this is what I can do."

You could go pretty much anywhere with it, really, and have pictures to illustrate both the elephant and the hummingbird.  But, then again, it's very short so it might not work very well.

Offline Alana

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2013, 12:27:04 AM »
As a teacher, at the end of this week I've been asked to deliver a 10 minute assembly to about a 100 6-10 Year olds. I've not done this before. I've looked at a few stories I could read out but just wondered if anyone was aware of or had any links to engaging short stories with a good message?

Aesop's fables are of my favorite short stories with morals, and very simple for little children. I found this website that you can choose your Aesop story by its moral message, if you want to go this route:

http://www.aesopfables.com/sugmoral1.html

But s/he that dares not gasp the thorn
should never crave the rose.

Offline Nuke

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2013, 12:31:02 AM »
And a very beautifully written but very sad short story is The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen.
(the translation again is not perfect)

Quote
It was so terribly cold. Snow was falling, and it was almost dark. Evening came on, the last evening of the year. In the cold and gloom a poor little girl, bareheaded and barefoot, was walking through the streets. Of course when she had left her house she'd had slippers on, but what good had they been? They were very big slippers, way too big for her, for they belonged to her mother. The little girl had lost them running across the road, where two carriages had rattled by terribly fast. One slipper she'd not been able to find again, and a boy had run off with the other, saying he could use it very well as a cradle some day when he had children of his own. And so the little girl walked on her naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried several packages of matches, and she held a box of them in her hand. No one had bought any from her all day long, and no one had given her a cent.

Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along, a picture of misery, poor little girl! The snowflakes fell on her long fair hair, which hung in pretty curls over her neck. In all the windows lights were shining, and there was a wonderful smell of roast goose, for it was New Year's eve. Yes, she thought of that!

In a corner formed by two houses, one of which projected farther out into the street than the other, she sat down and drew up her little feet under her. She was getting colder and colder, but did not dare to go home, for she had sold no matches, nor earned a single cent, and her father would surely beat her. Besides, it was cold at home, for they had nothing over them but a roof through which the wind whistled even though the biggest cracks had been stuffed with straw and rags.

Her hands were almost dead with cold. Oh, how much one little match might warm her! If she could only take one from the box and rub it against the wall and warm her hands. She drew one out. R-r-ratch! How it sputtered and burned! It made a warm, bright flame, like a little candle, as she held her hands over it; but it gave a strange light! It really seemed to the little girl as if she were sitting before a great iron stove with shining brass knobs and a brass cover. How wonderfully the fire burned! How comfortable it was! The youngster stretched out her feet to warm them too; then the little flame went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the burnt match in her hand.

She struck another match against the wall. It burned brightly, and when the light fell upon the wall it became transparent like a thin veil, and she could see through it into a room. On the table a snow-white cloth was spread, and on it stood a shining dinner service. The roast goose steamed gloriously, stuffed with apples and prunes. And what was still better, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled along the floor with a knife and fork in its breast, right over to the little girl. Then the match went out, and she could see only the thick, cold wall. She lighted another match. Then she was sitting under the most beautiful Christmas tree. It was much larger and much more beautiful than the one she had seen last Christmas through the glass door at the rich merchant's home. Thousands of candles burned on the green branches, and colored pictures like those in the printshops looked down at her. The little girl reached both her hands toward them. Then the match went out. But the Christmas lights mounted higher. She saw them now as bright stars in the sky. One of them fell down, forming a long line of fire.

"Now someone is dying," thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star fell down a soul went up to God.

She rubbed another match against the wall. It became bright again, and in the glow the old grandmother stood clear and shining, kind and lovely.

"Grandmother!" cried the child. "Oh, take me with you! I know you will disappear when the match is burned out. You will vanish like the warm stove, the wonderful roast goose and the beautiful big Christmas tree!"

And she quickly struck the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother with her. And the matches burned with such a glow that it became brighter than daylight. Grandmother had never been so grand and beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and both of them flew in brightness and joy above the earth, very, very high, and up there was neither cold, nor hunger, nor fear-they were with God.

But in the corner, leaning against the wall, sat the little girl with red cheeks and smiling mouth, frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. The New Year's sun rose upon a little pathetic figure. The child sat there, stiff and cold, holding the matches, of which one bundle was almost burned.

"She wanted to warm herself," the people said. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, and how happily she had gone with her old grandmother into the bright New Year.

How short? More like an anecdote or can it be like a page-long?

One of the first ones that came to mind was The Farmer's Donkey. _http://www.naute.com/stories/donkey.phtml

Quote
The Farmer's Donkey

I don't know - if I were 6 years old, that would scare the heck out of me!!

In that case, I won't even ask what you think of the Cat and Mouse in Partnership  :halo:

Actually I was focusing on the other end of the spectrum, the 10-year olds...Always pushing boundaries..didn't even notice until you pointed it out :/

And I thought the Farmer's Donkey was the 'lightest', easiest to digest, even for kids.


How about using this Chinese parable as a base to talk about each of them doing what they can do to make the world a better place:

Quote from:
One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying on its back with its tiny feet up in the air. "What are you doing?" asked the elephant. The hummingbird replied, "I heard that the sky might fall today, and so I am ready to help hold it up, should it fall." The elephant laughed cruelly. "Do you really think," he said, "that those tiny feet could help hold up the sky?" The hummingbird kept his feet up in the air, intent on his purpose, as he replied, "Not alone. But each must do what he can. And this is what I can do."

You could go pretty much anywhere with it, really, and have pictures to illustrate both the elephant and the hummingbird.  But, then again, it's very short so it might not work very well.

This one's really good. Never really heard Chinese parables before, at least not that I can recall.

Pob, if you want to put a few of these - like the one Anart suggested - together for the assembly than even the fact that they're short would be no problem, fwiw.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2013, 12:41:56 AM by Nuke »
'Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back' Chinese proverb

"The waking have one world in common; sleepers have each a private world of his own. " Heraclitus

Offline obyvatel

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2013, 08:36:33 AM »
I'd drop the religious references and wouldn't deliver it with a 'follow rules' message but on courage and honesty.

   The fairy tale "Emperor's New Clothes" comes to mind on the theme of courage, honesty and children.
What should we have ready at hand in difficult situations?
 Simply the knowledge of what is under my control and what is not.

Epictetus

What is not made conscious often comes to us as fate.

Carl Jung

Offline D

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2013, 09:38:59 AM »
As a teacher, at the end of this week I've been asked to deliver a 10 minute assembly to about a 100 6-10 Year olds. I've not done this before. I've looked at a few stories I could read out but just wondered if anyone was aware of or had any links to engaging short stories with a good message?

Aesop's fables are of my favorite short stories with morals, and very simple for little children. I found this website that you can choose your Aesop story by its moral message, if you want to go this route:

http://www.aesopfables.com/sugmoral1.html



I want to second Alana's suggestion. I grew up on quite a few of Aesop's fables and one of my favorites is The Ant and the Grasshopper, and it's about preparing for the winter  ;) but they're all pretty much great.

Oh and I love the The Little Match Girl but you may have a few crying eyes to deal with after that reading. I remember I cried for a bit after I read that when I was about 6.
**Humans, members of one great whole,
In creation, one essence, one great soul,
When a single member’s afflicted by pain,
Renders with pain other members to turn,
You, with no compassion for the hurt soul
Can’t claim self human in part or in whole** - Saadi Shirazi

**This wheel of the universe that disconserts us
    We imagine it as a revolving lantern
    Consider the sun its flame, the Universe the lantern
    And we are like images passing within it.**      -Omar Khayyam

Offline shellycheval

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2013, 01:45:20 PM »
I second Obyvatel's suggestion for The Emperor's New Clothes.
It's the right length and age appropriate.
And it's a classic adults will remember and approve of even if they do not recognize that
it is actually a version of the theme of The Matrix presented at a child's level. ;)
"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery--none but ourselves can free our minds  .  .  ."     Bob Marley

“If the workers of the world want to win, all they have to do is recognize their own solidarity. They have nothing to do but fold their arms and the world will stop. The workers are more powerful with their hands in their pockets than all the property of the capitalists. . . .”
(from Howard Zinn’s "A Peoples’ History of the United States")


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Offline truth seeker

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2013, 05:35:48 PM »
I second Obyvatel's suggestion for The Emperor's New Clothes.
It's the right length and age appropriate.
Third it. :D
"[...]Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.[...]" ~ W.H. Murray

Offline Gandalf

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2013, 06:44:34 PM »
I second Obyvatel's suggestion for The Emperor's New Clothes.
It's the right length and age appropriate.
Third it. :D

Fourth it.  ;)
Every time you say "yes" to someone who doesn't deserve it, and go against Yourself and what you value the most, you kill a small part of your essence. LKJ

One should also keep in mind that when you interfere in the "lesson plan" of another by trying to rescue them, you very often take their karma or lessons on yourself. That is, when you try to stop bullets for someone else, YOU are the one who gets shot. LKJ

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Offline Theseus

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2013, 07:25:21 PM »
I second Obyvatel's suggestion for The Emperor's New Clothes.
It's the right length and age appropriate.
Third it. :D

Fourth it.  ;)

I want to second Alana's suggestion. I grew up on quite a few of Aesop's fables and one of my favorites is The Ant and the Grasshopper, and it's about preparing for the winter  ;) but they're all pretty much great.

Thanks for all your suggestions, all very helpful. The Ant and Grasshopper is great because I can ask the pupils how the story would end and engage in some audience participation at the end but with 4 votes for the emperor I'll relook at it tomorrow and select a winner :)
No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected.
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Offline Theseus

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Re: Short stories for children's assembly
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2013, 07:03:47 PM »
Thanks once again for all your input. I opted for the emperor's new clothes in the end and the children really enjoyed it (as I did too).  I asked them what the message was and received some intelligent replies: Along the lines of 'don't trust everyone' and 'don't be vain' which we then talked about. I am still smiling to myself after a few children thanked me throughout the day for an assembly they enjoyed.  :)
No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected.
Julius Caesar