Stone soup

In short...

Themes: Sharing; helping others; overcoming fear and prejudice; our senses - taste.

Summary: This animation is an adaptation of the famous traditional story of Stone soup. In the middle of a freezing winter a mysterious man arrives in a village and sets up his cooking pot to make 'stone soup'. The villagers mock him to begin with, but soon after each brings an ingredient of their own to add to the soup. Soon the entire village is enjoying a hearty feast, and the man can quietly take his leave...his work done.

Resources: The framework to download / print (pdf) and two images from the animation: i) the villagers enjoying their soup feast; ii) Alexa with the mysterious old man.

The video

It is a cold winter day and Alexa and her father Mikhail gather logs. An old man appears with a sack and Alexa is keen to offer him a ride back to the village on their cart; but her father is suspicious of the stranger and doesn’t wish to help him.

Later, back in the village, Alexa and her father meet the old man again. He produces a cooking pot and proceeds to build a fire. Hungry villagers gather round to see what the old man will cook. But he drops a stone into the pot and declares it is the vital ingredient for ‘stone soup’.

The villagers laugh but Alexa slips away and returns with some onions to go in the pot. One by one other villagers also produce what little food they have and soon the stone soup has become a delicious, warming stew for everyone to enjoy together.

Duration: 5' 18"

End of speech: '...into the snowy, black night.'

Video questions

  • Why do you think Mikhail is suspicious of the old man and unwilling to help him?
  • What does the old man carry with him in his sack?
  • How do the villagers react when the old man says he will be making ‘stone soup’?
  • Why do you think the old man describes the stone as the ‘vital ingredient’?
  • Why does Alexa slip away and return with some onions?
  • Why is it important that Mikhail also enjoys some of the soup?
  • What do the villagers learn from the visit of the old man? What does he want them to think and feel once he has left?

Key links

Assembly framework (pdf)
document
Image: the villagers enjoy their stone soup
image
Image: Alexa and the old man
image

Suggested framework

1. Entry
As pupils enter you could play a song about food - 'Food, glorious, food' from the 1968 film 'Oliver!' by Lionel Bart is an obvious example.

2. Introduction
Begin by asking some questions and gather responses:

  • What’s your favourite food / taste?
  • Does anyone know what the different tastes are? (sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness - and an additional taste called umami which is now also recognised as one of the basic tastes).
  • What do each of these smells make you think of, or what places do they conjure up in your mind: salty sea air, popcorn, fresh cut grass?
  • What significance does our sense of taste have? Is it simply to give us pleasure? Does it serve some other significant purpose? (A sour taste could indicate that food is bad or poisonous for example).

Explain that everyone is now going to watch a short animation about a very unusual food - soup...made with a stone!

3. The video
Play the video. The duration is 5' 18" and the final words are: '...into the snowy, black night.'

4. After the video - time to talk
Use the Video questions to start a discussion about the story Stone soup and what pupils think its significance is:

  • Why do you think Mikhail is suspicious of the old man and unwilling to help him?
  • What does the old man carry with him in his sack?
  • How do the villagers react when the old man says he will be making ‘stone soup’?
  • Why do you think the old man describes the stone as the ‘vital ingredient’?
  • Why does Alexa slip away and return with some onions?
  • Why is it important that Mikhail also enjoys some of the soup?
  • What do the villagers learn from the visit of the old man? What does he want them to think and feel once he has left?

5. Opportunity to sing
An opportunity to sing your chosen song. Suggestions from BBC collections are below.

6. Opportunity to reflect
In the stillness think to yourself about some of your favourite things to eat...
Think about how lucky we are that there are so many different tastes to enjoy...
Perhaps there's a time you can think of when you've really enjoyed sharing a meal with other people...perhaps a birthday party...
Sharing food with others is a special way we can show that we care for each other...
Who will you offer to share food with today..?

7. Opportunity for prayer
Begin with your usual form of address ('Dear God' etc) and:
Thank you for all the wonderful tastes there are to enjoy.
Help us to remember that sharing a meal with others can be a special time...
And that sharing our food with others can be a special way of showing that we care for them.
Amen.

Suggested songs

'All together as a family' (All about our school, no 15)

Song: 'Being a friend' (All about our school, no 8. Vocal version)

'Let us with a gladsome mind' (Come and Praise, no 8)