At Libertyville, I asked the students how many of them knew the story about the Tortoise and the Hare. They shared what they knew with their neighbor, and then two volunteers shared with the school. I asked the students to think about
- What happened to the rabbit?
- Why didn't the rabbit win?
- What did the rabbit do when he wasn't running?
This led to me telling the story I had learned about "Sharpening the Ax." Here is a similar version:
Once upon a time there were two men who entered a contest chopping wood at a county fair. The first man was in good physical shape and very muscular. The second man was in good shape but smaller in statute and wiry. They would chop wood all day and at the end of the day compare to see who had chopped the most wood. The first man laughed to himself that there was no way this wiry little man would beat him and so they began the contest. Every 45 minutes the second smaller man would take a break and seems to just wonder off somewhere. The first man laughed again to himself and said "Yep there's no way this wiry little man is going to beat me." This happens several times during the day. At the end of the day the two men compare their piles of chopped wood and unbelievably enough the wiry little man has chopped twice as much wood as the more physically fit man. He says "I don't understand. First I'm twice your size and twice your strength! On top of that every 45 minutes you rolled off and took a break or a nap or something. You must have cheated!" The smaller man says "I don't cheat. It was easy to beat you because every 45 minutes when you thought I was taking a break, I was out back sharpening my ax."
Students talked with their neighbors afterward about why taking a break worked for the man chopping wood, but not for the hare. Ask your kids to find out their answers!