I recently taught Aesop’s The Ant and the Grasshopper to a class of elementary students. It brought stories from my youth rushing back to me, and as tends to be the case when you revisit these tales as an adult, I realised that I didn’t fully appreciate the moral back then. There’s something particularly unsettling about returning to books and movies from your youth and interpreting them with a mature mind. Therefore, I decided that it would be interesting to study a fable with my adult students.
Every time I teach this group, I walk away feeling that I’ve learnt so much from them, (sometimes I worry that they teach me more than I teach them). They are intuitive, interested in learning and generally well-rounded, and they didn’t fail to impress me during this class. As I expected, there is a Korean version of this fable, and the students were familiar with the moral of the story, but this didn’t detract from their enthusiasm.
There was a wide range of ideas about the story – which obviously created an interesting discussion. One student recalled a modern version of the fable where the grasshopper is a famous singer whilst the ant is a labourer who becomes sick from working too hard. It was a darkly comical outlook on modern society, and when I researched modern takes of the fable, I found that there is a multitude. If I teach this lesson again I will probably encourage a discussion of how the tale would unfold in modern life.
Below is a copy of the worksheet that I used. This class are intermediate, but the worksheet could easily be adapted to other levels.
The Ant and the Grasshopper Fable
An Aesop’s Fable
In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.”
But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.
Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.
Moral of Aesop’s Fable: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.
Is there a fable like this in your country?
Do you enjoy reading stories with morals?
Do you relate to the ant or the grasshopper?
Which would you rather do, work hard or play hard? Is there a time for each?
Why didn’t the grasshopper work hard?
What do you think this story is trying to teach?
Discuss the phrase: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Discuss the phrase: “Prepare an umbrella before it rains.”
Do you think the ants should help the grasshopper?
How do you think the ant felt watching grasshopper play while she was working so hard? Have you ever been in a situation like this?
Do you think the grasshopper will help gather food next year?
Do you think any of the ants will choose to sing and dance rather than work to prepare for the winter?