A classic Chinese folktale, of a man who owned a horse and at each turn of fate believed that things were neither as good, nor as bad, as they might seem.
Ed Young, Voyager Books, Harcourt, ©2004, ISBN 0-15-201061-5
Oral Language: The Unfortunately Game
Ask students to stand in a large circle. Start with a line such as “James went to the library.” Continue from there with the next student saying, “Fortunately…”. Students alternate a fortunate, unfortunate circumstance as they go around the circle. This requires students to be a little inventive, and warms them up to the idea of writing their own book. Once students understand the system, playing in smaller groups creates more participation for each individual.
Write Your Own “Perhaps It Might Not Be A Good Thing” Story…
Create a scenario and then write a story in which a character repeats your catch phrase—each time saying “It might not be so great” or “It might not be so bad”. This can involve something simple like forgetting your homework, lunch, library book, etc. It could even be set somewhere such as the middle east, with the issue involving a camel.
The Lost Horse is written in only 207 words in total, and 17 sentences, so it is not a huge challenge.
Create Your Own Wisdom
What do you think the “moral” of the story is? Discuss with the students.
Talk about using the idea of “what I learned from this was…” when they write their own personal writing anecdotes. We take away a lesson from a lot of the things we do in life…that’s how we avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.
For 8 creative writing ideas, click The Lost Horse to download.
In Japan, the oldest and wealthiest man in the village lives on the hill in his rice farm. In the village below, villagers are getting ready for a festival. Suddenly he senses a problem, and when he sees the waters recede realizes a tsunami is coming. He cannot get down to the village to warn them in time so he needs to draw the villagers to him. As a desperate act, he sets his crop on fire. The villagers rush up the hill to help put out the fire, and they are all saved.
Kimiko Kajikawa, Philomel Books, ©2009, ISBN 978-0-399-25006-4
This is a good time to study the science of the tsunami. These giant waves form where tectonic plates collide, where there is a gigantic (frequently underwater) eruption of a volcano, or after a meteor impact. 86% of all tsunamis come from underwater volcanoes or seismic shifts. These displace huge quantities of water suddenly. The water rushes in to fill the vacuum (thus explaining why the “tide” seems to go out suddenly and unusually far) and then rushes back out again in the form of a huge wave.
There are many websites with great information including the video below.
The True Story
This book is based on a story in the 1897 publication by Lafadio Hearn called Gleanings in Buddha-Fields. The original wise wealthy man of the village was Hamguchi Goryo and there is a Japanese museum dedicated to him. (He was 35, not an old man, when it happened but the story is still wonderful. Making him older makes it possible for “experience” to tell him what to do.) Ask students to research the real person at locations such as The Fire of Rice Sheaves.
For 8 creative writing ideas, click Tsunami to download.