provides an opportunity for children to identify the meaning and
significance of proverbs, to consider common themes in proverbs
across cultures, and to create new proverbs that can teach lessons.
6-9 years This activity can be divided into two parts:
Part 1: Procedures 1-7
Part II: Procedure 8
Age: 9-12 years FOR OLDER CHILDREN:
Additional Activities 1 and 2 only
minutes; additional time may be required depending on discussion
- current world map
- 3"x5" cards, multicolored
and cut into various shapes
proverb, culture, generation,
values, value (verb), interpretation
1. Begin this
session with a discussion of proverbs by writing the following proverbs
from the United States on the chalkboard or on chart paper. Refer
to each proverb, one at a time, and ask children to determine the
possible meaning(s) of each proverb.
- A FRIEND
IN NEED IS A FRIEND INDEED - A real friend is one who can
be counted on in difficult times.
- THE EARLY
BIRD CATCHES THE WORM - Those who get things done sooner
reap the rewards.
OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER - People with common interests
and ways tend to stick together.
- WHEN THE
CATíS AWAY, THE MICE WILL PLAY - When the person in
charge is gone, people donít do their work.
2. Use the following
questions to encourage discussion:
- What is a
- What is the
purpose of a proverb? What kinds of messages or lessons do the
- Where do
you think proverbs come from? How are they passed down from generation
- What are
some possible reasons why proverbs are easily remembered?
3. Write the
following proverbs from different countries on the board and have
students discuss the possible meaning(s) of each and the message(s)
and/or lesson(s) that are reflected. Compare the messages of these
proverbs from different countries to those of the United States.
Discuss any similarities or differences among the proverbs:
- GET TO
KNOW NEW FRIENDS, BUT DONíT GIVE UP THE OLD ONES (Bulgaria)
- A MAN
WHO HAS COMMITTED A MISTAKE AND DOESNíT CORRECT IT IS COMMITTING
ANOTHER MISTAKE (China)
MAKES WASTE (Great Britain)
4. Locate the
country of each proverb on a world map. Discuss if the meaning of
the proverb could relate to only one country or culture or could
relate to other countries and cultures as well. Have children explain
5. Ask children
to share proverbs that they have learned from family members. If
they do not know any, have them ask family members and report back
at another session.
6. Have children
choose a partner. If there is an uneven number of children, three
children can form a group. Using the list of proverbs below, give
each group of children one proverb that is written on a 3"
x 5í, card. Ask partners to discuss the meaning of the proverb
and decide on the lesson/s it illustrates.
Attach the proverb
to a piece of 12" x 18"construction paper. Have children
design and color a picture to illustrate the proverb.
7. When pictures
are complete, have each group read its proverb out loud and share
the illustration and interpretation. Ask the whole group to share
other ways in which the proverb might be interpreted. Display pictures
After each proverb is read and explained, help children
find the country or state of origin on the world map.
IT IS FIRE, TOMORROW IT WILL BE ASHES: Arabia
- A SINGLE
BAMBOO POLE DOES NOT MAKE A RAFT: China
- THE ONE
BEING CARRIED DOES NOT REALIZE HOW FAR AWAY THE TOWN IS: Nigeria
ARE THOSE WHO CAN PLEASE THEMSELVES: Zulu (South Africa)
IS BETTER THAN SPEECH: Cambodia
- A HANDFUL
OF FRIENDS IS BETTER THAN A WAGON FULL OF GOLD: Czech Republic
- GET TO
KNOW NEW FRIENDS BUT DONíT FORGET THE OLD ONES: Bulgaria
- YOU CANNOT
BUY A FRIEND WITH MONEY: Russia
- TO A GOOD
HEARER, A GOOD SPEAKER: Spain
- IT DOES
NOT REQUIRE MANY WORDS TO SPEAK THE TRUTH: Native American
- ONE CAN
STAND STILL IN A FLOWING STREAM, BUT NOT IN A WORLD OF MEN:
- A SINGLE
KIND WORD KEEPS ONE WARM FOR THREE WINTERS: China
- NICE WORDS
ARE FREE, SO CHOOSE ONES TO PLEASE ANOTHERíS EARS: Vietnam
- MAKE A
FRIEND WHEN YOU DONíT NEED ONE: Jamaica
IS EASY TO CARRY BUT DIFFICULT TO GATHER: Czech Republic
- THE PERSON
WHO ASKS FOR LITTLE DESERVES NOTHING: Mexico
- WHEN AN
ELEPHANT IS IN TROUBLE, EVEN A FROG WILL KICK HIM: India
- MAY YOU
HAVE WARMTH IN YOUR IGLOO, OIL IN YOUR LAMP, AND PEACE IN YOUR
8. Have children
print other proverbs on 3" x 11,, pieces of construction paper.
Encourage children to decorate paper with a design or picture that
reflects the meaning of the proverb. Display a current world map
on a bulletin board. Post each proverb along the side of the world
map and extend a string or yarn from the proverb to the country
9. After proverbs
have been posted and countries of origin located, conclude the activity
with a whole-group discussion using the following questions:
- What did
you like about this activity?
- What did
you learn from this activity?
- What proverb
had the most meaning for you? Why?
- What proverb
would you like to take home to share with family members? Why?
- What do proverbs
show about what people believe and value (e.g., friendship, hard
Adapted by permission
and reprinted from U.S.: A Cultural Mosaic. San Diego Public
Schools, San Diego, CA, 1977 and Tiedt and Tiedt, Multicultural
Teaching. Copyright ©1986 by Allyn and Bacon. ©1994
1. FOR OLDER
CHILDREN: Discuss proverbs, their meaning and significance.
Select five proverbs from the list of proverbs (Procedures #1,3,7).
Write on the chalkboard or on chart paper. Ask children to decide
the meaning and the lesson of the proverbs.
and why proverbs are passed down from generation to generation.
Discuss ways in which culture is reflected in proverbs and how and
why the meaning or lesson of a proverb might be cross-cultural.
Write each proverb on a 3" x 5~í card. Give each child
a card to pantomime for the group. A limited time of 2-3 minutes
per proverb might add to the excitement. (Teams could also be formed
2. Have students
write their own proverbs. Show the children how some proverbs are
written. Write the following verse on the board to illustrate:
There will be happiness
There will be peace
There will be harmony in the world.
find the following an easy model for writing their own sayings.
Illustrate how repeating the pattern helps to add more verses.
There will be _______________________
3. Discuss how
community agencies and embassies often represent a variety of cultures
and nationalities. Have children find the names and addresses of
at least two local community agencies or embassies using such references
as the library, phone book or local newspaper.
With the input
of all children, write a letter that briefly describes the proverb
activity and asks the recipient of the letter to share a proverb
of the country or culture that the agency or embassy represents.
Ask that the importance of the proverb to the people of the country
be explained. Write the letter on the chalkboard or on chart paper.
Allow time for each child to rewrite the letter and address it to
a community agency that he or she previously identified. Be sure
to provide stamps and envelopes to all children.
Share the responses
as they are received. Add to the proverb bulletin board.
children to select a proverb, either one they have written or one
written by another person, to write or illustrate artfully. For
example, the proverb below was written by a Chinese philosopher
and scholar, Lao-tzu (spelling varies).
journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
5. Have children discuss
the proverb activity at home. Ask family members to share proverbs
that reflect the message(s) and/or lesson(s) that they learned from
their cultural heritage - ones that they might have heard as children.
Have the children and/or their family members write the proverbs on
cards or paper and bring them to class to share and add to the bulletin