Stone Soup

Hungry strangers bring a small village a big surprise.

Lexile Level: n/a / Guided Reading Level: P / DRA Level: 38

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Learning Objective

This charming read-aloud adaptation of a well-known folktale will help students identify the play’s theme, or big idea.

Featured Skill

The Big Idea

Content-Area Connections

ELA: folktales

Character education

Key Skills

Theme, vocabulary, fluency, close reading, character, plot, inference, character’s motivation, figurative language, explanatory writing

Standards Correlations

This article and lesson support the following standards:

Common Core anchor standards: R.1, R.2, R.3, R.4, W.2, SL.1, SL.2, L.4, L.5, L.6

TEKS: 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5a, 3.7, 3.20c, 3.29, 3.30

Teaching Materials

Vocabulary Slideshow

Activity Sheets

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Close Reading Questions
Reading Kit: Theme
Reading Kit: Plot

Lesson plan

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Set a Purpose for Reading (5 minutes)

• As students look at the play’s opening, point out the labels in the top left corner of page 20 (“Play” and “Read-aloud folktale”). Ask: What is a folktale? (a story that’s been told over many years and is usually spoken vs. written) Invite students to name any folktales they may be familiar with.


Introduce Vocabulary (10 minutes, activity sheet online)

• While the story does not include vocabulary words in the text itself, there is a vocabulary activity online that previews challenging words and allows students to list the words that are unfamiliar to them. Project or distribute the activity to go over words.

• Challenging words: curiosity, gossip, banquet


Set a Purpose for Reading

• Every major story has a Think and Read box at the beginning. It give students a question or an idea to focus on as they read. Call on a volunteer to read the Think and Read box on page 20 for the class.

Bridging Decoding and Comprehension

Storyworks Jr. plays provide a perfect opportunity for students to build fluency.

• Model reading with expression by reading aloud Scene 1 for the class.

• Assign parts and read the play aloud as a class. Prompt students to make their voices match the words they’re saying. For example, use an excited voice for an excited line. Likewise, they should pay attention to the punctuation throughout.


Reading and Unpacking the Text

• First read: Read the play as a class.

• Second read: Project or distribute the close-reading questions. Discuss them as a class, rereading lines or scenes as necessary.

• Break students up into groups to discuss the critical-thinking question. Then have groups share their answers with the class.


Close-Reading Questions (20 minutes, activity sheet online)

• In Scene 1, why are the soldiers so hungry? Why don’t people in the village want to share with them? (cause and effect) No one in the other towns the soldiers have traveled through have shared their food. The townspeople don’t want to share with them because they’re afraid of strangers, and they don’t have much food themselves.

• In Scene 2, what does it mean when Mary’s mother tells Mary, “I’m sorry, Mary. Hard times make hard hearts”? (figurative language) It means that when life is difficult, you’re not always as caring and generous as you would be if things were easier.

• In Scene 3, the captain winks and tells his soldiers about his “delicious secret recipe” for stone soup. What is he really trying to tell them about the soup? (inference) The captain winks because there is no recipe, and he wants his soldiers to know he’s got a plan to trick the townspeople into helping make soup.

• In Scenes 4 and 5, how do the villagers change and become so willing to share? (theme) The villagers are starting to understand that in order to enjoy the soup, they’ll all need to contribute.

• In Scene 6, the soldiers share the recipe for stone soup. What does it take to make the soup? (theme) The soldiers say you need only three small stones and the help of the entire village.


Critical-Thinking Question (7 minutes, activity sheet online)

• In Scene 6, what does it mean when the captain says that in order to make stone soup, you need the help of the entire village? (theme) The stone soup was made because everyone worked together. They shared their food and supplies. And they had a fun night as a community because everyone wanted to participate. The lesson of the play is that good things can happen when you share and work together.

Exploring the Big Idea (15 minutes, activity sheet online)

Have students complete the big idea activity. They should also write a response to the Think and Write question on p. 25.

Teaching Extras

A classic version

For a classic version of the “Stone Soup” folktale, check out Marcia Brown’s 1947 book.

Make your own!

Make your own stone soup! Have each student bring an ingredient from home and make the soup for lunch. You can even use real stones, provided they’re very clean!

Make it a performance

Many teachers have told us that they put on our plays in their classroom, often for students in other classes, and sometimes complete with costumes, props, and a set. Maybe you’ll be similarly moved!

A resource for military families

If any of your students have a parent currently serving in the military, you might read (or suggest a family member reads) a book for children of deployed parents, such as The Wishing Tree by Mary Redman.

Another lesson plan

A Scholastic Top Teacher Blogger has a whole lesson plan on Stone Soup here. It’s for younger children, but we bet you’ll find inspiration for your classroom!