Several weeks ago, Mrs. Beth Gazo, Mater Christi pre-school teacher, decided that with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, it might be a good opportunity to help her students practice sharing. Instead of the traditional story of the early pilgrims and Native Americans gathering with each other to share food after a successful harvest, Beth decided to use an ancient story that begins with stones and no sharing – in other words, the story “Stone Soup.”
Then the tragedy in Paris, France took place, and Beth felt even more impelled to create a project which would help her students experience the positive results of sharing and cooperation. She invited the students’ parents in to participate in her project – a Stone Soup meal.
Beth used several versions of the story, reading and discussing three of them with the children. Her favorite version, Stone Soup retold and illustrated by Jon J. Muth, involves three monks from the mid-east deciding to help the villagers who lived in a town located in a remote mountainous region. The villagers’ lives are not happy; they have withdrawn from each other and are unwelcoming of visitors. With help from a village child, the monks were able to procure a huge pot and fill it with water. The rest of the story involves three stones being tossed into the pot with a promise from the monks that a delicious soup would result. With one villager after another contributing what they had with encouragement from the monks, the story culminates with the villagers enjoying not only some soup but each other’s company.
The discussions that Beth had with her students leading up to the big day centered on the ways in which everyone can share and make others happy. These included helping Mom and Dad out by playing with a sister or brother.
On the day of the meal in the pre-school classroom, it was quite evident that the ingredients for their soup, which the children and their parents had brought in, were pretty much the same as the ones contributed by the villagers in the story- simple vegetables, noodles and herbs. The similarity between the pot in the story and the electrically powered crock pot in the classroom was, on the other hand, somewhat nominal.
This phrase from an echo prayer with which the meal began pretty well summed up the experience for both the children and the adults: “Dear God, I’m thankful for all you give: For food. For love. A place to live.”
Sister Joanne LaFreniere, RSM
Director of Public Relations and Spiritual Life
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