An elderly farmer had several sons. He loved his children very much, yet they argued all the time. They couldn’t agree on anything, and they didn’t know how to work together. Because of this, the work that needed to be done on the farm didn’t get done. Animals didn’t get fed, vegetables didn’t get picked, the cows got through the fence because there was a hole in it, and so on.

The farmer was worried, so he made a plan to give his sons a lesson and show them how they needed to “stick” together.

The farmer gathered his sons together and placed in front of them a bundle of sticks very tightly tied together. He told them, “I want to see if you are able to break this bundle of sticks.” Even though they were very strong, each son failed to break the sticks. Each grabbed the bundle and tried until sweat poured from his face, but none of them could do it. Finally the farmer untied the bundle of sticks and handed the sticks to the sons one stick at a time. They snapped them easily until they were all broken.

“You see?” he asked his sons. “If you stick together, tied together tightly with love, no one will ever break this family or this farm. But if you are apart and divided, each one fighting the other, you will be broken easily.”

Objectives

Cognitive: Students will understand the value of unity.
Affective: Students will want to build strong relationships of unity to feel safe and strong.
Behavioral: Students will make good choices at school and home to bind together with others.

Class Session 1

Materials Needed:
  • Sticks—real sticks or craft sticks

Read the story to the students. Then have them act the story out. This is a great story to act out! There needs to be a farmer and his three sons. The other children can be the animals who aren’t being taken care of at first and are sad. You may narrate the story as the children act it out. Allow the children to actually break the sticks after first letting every child in the room try to break the whole bundle. Explain that when people “stick” together and support and help each other, they are much stronger than when they are alone and apart.

This is a fun activity: Each student has a partner, and they sit on the floor linking arms, back to back. They have to push against each other’s backs to stand up. Mention that this is hard to do, but by sticking and working together, they can do it.

Class Session 2

Go over the story again. Ask students, “Do you remember the story about the farmer and his sons and the bundle of sticks? What happened? What did the sons learn at the end?”

Announce that the class is going to play a game of working together to get something done. Remind them that when people work together to get something done, it is called “cooperation.”

Have the children stand side by side in a line or in a circle, spread out just enough so that they could still all hold hands comfortably together. Explain to the children that their job is to get an object (a rock, piece of fruit, or a stick) from here to there—the beginning of the line to the other side of the line, or the beginning of the circle to the end of the circle.

Ask the students to give suggestions as to how to accomplish this. Hopefully, someone will suggest the idea of a human chain. If a student says, “We could roll the object or throw it,” then say that would work, but that it would be better to do it in a way where every student helps to get it to the finish line. Keep giving hints until they get the idea to form a human chain. Tell them you will time them to see how fast they can do it without dropping the object. They will pass the object from person to person until it reaches the finish line. If it drops, they have to start all over again. Remind them to help each other as much as they can so no one drops the object.

After the first run, tell them what their time was, and ask them how they can beat their time next time. Encourage them to think cooperatively. Have them pass the object two more times and compare the three times. Hopefully, the last one will be the fastest.

Congratulate them on their successes. Ask them, “What did you all do to make that happen? Cooperate! How did that feel? Wonderful! Give yourselves a hand!”

Explain that there is a saying, “United we stand; divided we fall.” If we all stick together and work together we stand strong. If we break up and fight, it is much harder to get things done, isn’t it?”


From: Discovering the Real Me, Book 1. For book orders, click here.

Resources

Scripts for a play.
Elisa Pearmain's adaptation of the story and lesson plan
An animated version of the story