Story: The Foolish Hare
This is my retelling of the Jataka story from ancient India: The Foolish Hare (pulled from the Lavender's Blue Second Grade curriculum). Like the Aesop's Fables, the Jataka stories use animal characters to portray human nature - the good, the bad, the ugly, and the humorous. Second graders love animal stories - and especially humor - and the soul lessons of these stories are perfect for the eight-year-old as well.
(For more on second grade themes and stories in the Waldorf curriculum, see this post on Second Grade Essentials.)
Fifth graders could also read Jataka stories as part of their Ancient India studies. These stories come from the Buddhist tradition and tell of the many incarnations of the Buddha, who has to learn many lessons over many lifetimes in order to become enlightened. Twenty Jataka Tales by Noor Inayat Khan is a good collection.
Here we go - hope you enjoy it! xo Kelly
The Foolish Hare
Once in the forest of India there was a hare who sat under a fruit tree. He looked like a rabbit, only quite a big larger, with very long ears. He had longer, more powerful legs too, and could run remarkably fast.
The hare sat still and alert, with his long sensitive ears stretched up. He was listening to all the sounds of the forest. And then he had a thought. He wondered, “What would happen to me if the world came to an end?”
Just at that moment, a piece of fruit fell from the tree onto the ground close behind him. The hare heard the thud and felt the ground shake. His heart leaped, and with his powerful legs he began to run as fast as he could. “The earth is breaking and the world is coming to an end!” he thought.
The hare was so terrified that he ran faster than he had ever run before. And every time he passed another hare he shouted, “The earth is breaking apart!” And that hare would be frightened as well, and begin to run along too. Soon there were a hundred hares all running as fast as they could, which is very fast indeed.
All the other animals in the forest were startled by the sight and sound of a hundred racing hares. And when they heard the cry, “The earth is breaking apart!” they too joined in at a gallop. Soon there were deer running with the hares, and boars, antelopes and water buffalo, rhinoceros, elephants, and even leopards and tigers. Birds flew along overhead, and snakes and crocodiles followed along as best they could.
On a high bluff overlooking the jungle stood a great lion. He heard the stampede and saw that the animals were racing out of the forest and would soon run into the sea. He knew he must stop them, so he stood and took a deep breath, and let out an enormous roar. He roared three times, and the animals passing below skidded to a halt to see the great lion on the bluff.
The lion leaped down in front of the crowd of animals and asked them, “Why are you running in such a panic?” And they all began to shout, “The earth is breaking apart, the earth is breaking apart!”
The lion roared again for silence, and then he asked, “Who saw the earth breaking apart?”
“The leopards and tigers!” shouted the animals. So the lion turned to them and asked, “Did you see the earth breaking apart?”
“No, the elephants and rhinoceros saw it!” they replied. The lion turned to the elephants and rhinoceros and asked, “Did you see the earth breaking apart?”
“No, the antelopes and water buffalo saw it!” they replied. The lion turned to the antelopes and water buffalo and asked, “Did you see the earth breaking apart?”
“No, the deer and the hares saw it!” they replied. The lion turned to the deer and the hundred hares and asked, “Did you see the earth breaking apart?”
They all replied, “It was this hare who saw the earth breaking apart!” All eyes turned to the hare who started it all. And the lion asked him, “Did you see the earth breaking apart?”
The hare was very nervous, and he replied, “I was sitting under a fruit tree when I heard a great thud and felt a great shake. I was sure the earth was breaking and the world was coming to an end, so I began to run with all my might!”
The lion laughed, and all the animals looked around them and they could see that the earth was peaceful. The empty jungle sat peacefully. Far below them the ocean waves crashed in and out as they had always done. Up above on the high bluff the breeze blew in the grasses.
“Come with me,” said the lion, and with the hare he led them all back to the fruit tree in the forest. There, right behind where the hare had been sitting, was the piece of fruit that fell with a thud. Soon everyone was laughing, and even the hare, who felt very foolish indeed, had to laugh at his own foolishness. And before long, every animal returned home and life in the forest went on as usual.
Be sure to check out the Lavender's Blue Second Grade Curriculum! It's full of wonderful stories, clear guidance on how and what to teach in second grade, active learning in circle time, an exceptional math program, and more. All the info on Second Grade is here.