Some questions for the children

Here are some questions to explore the end of the Little Red Hen with the children.

  • What would you have done if you had been Little Red Hen?
  • How do you think the Little Red Hen felt doing all of the work by herself?
  • How do you think the Little Red Hen felt when all the animals wanted to eat the bread she had made?
  • Why do you think the hen said the other animals could only eat the bread if they promised to help her next time?
  • How do you think the animals would have felt if the Little Red Hen told them they could not help to eat the bread?
  • What lesson did the animals learn? Do you think they will be more willing to help out next time? Why or why not?
  • How would the story be different if all the animals had agreed to help the Little Red Hen?

 

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The Story of the Little Red Hen

This is a traditional tale, possibly with its origins in Russia, and has been told in many different versions for many years. There are versions of the story in which the Little Red Hen decides to share with the animals, and there are those in which she eats the bread herself leaving the animals to reflect on the error of their ways, with the moral to be drawn by the listener.

Sometimes she bakes bread and sometimes cakes or biscuits (and in one version a pizza!). We have amended the story to suit our own purposes too.

Below is just one version of the story for you to read to your children (downloadable version here)

The Little Red Hen

Once upon a time there was a little red hen.

One day the little red hen was in the farm yard when she found a grain of corn.

“Who will help me plant this grain of corn?” she asked.
“Not I,” squeaked the rat from the barn.
“Not I,” quacked the duck from her pond.
“Not I,” purred the cat from his place in the sun.

So the little red hen went to look for a nice bit of earth, scratched it with her feet and planted the grain of corn.

“Who will help me water this corn?” asked the little red hen
“Not I,” squeaked the rat from the barn.
“Not I,” quacked the duck from her pond.
“Not I,” purred the cat from his place in the sun.

Image of the Little Red Hen

So the little red hen carried a bucket of water in her beak to the field and watered the grain of corn.

During the summer the grain of corn grew. First it grew into a tall green stalk, then it ripened in the sun until it had turned a lovely golden colour. The little red hen saw that the corn was ready for cutting.
“Who will help me cut the corn?” asked the little red hen.
“Not I,” squeaked the rat from the barn.
“Not I,” quacked the duck from her pond.
“Not I,” purred the cat from his place in the sun.

“Very well then, I will cut it myself,” said the little red hen. Carefully she cut the stalk and took out all the grains of corn from the husks.

“Who will take the corn to the mill, so that it can be ground into flour?” asked the little red hen.
“Not I,” squeaked the rat from the barn.
“Not I,” quacked the duck from her pond.
“Not I,” purred the cat from his place in the sun.

So the little red hen took the corn to the mill herself, and asked the miller if he would be so kind as to grind it into flour. And when he had done this she took the flour back home

“Who will help me to make the flour into bread?” asked the little red hen.
“Not I,” squeaked the rat from the barn.
“Not I,” quacked the duck from her pond.
“Not I,” purred the cat from his place in the sun.

“Very well,” said the little red hen. “I shall make the bread myself.” She went into her neat little kitchen. She mixed the flour into dough. She kneaded the dough and put it into the oven to bake.

Soon there was a lovely smell of hot fresh bread. It filled all the corners of the house and wafted out into the garden. The rat came into the kitchen from the barn, the duck came in from the pond and the cat left his place in the sun. When the little red hen opened the oven door the dough had risen up and had turned into the nicest, most delicious looking loaf of bread any of them had seen.

“Who is going to eat this bread?” asked the little red hen.
“I will,” squeaked the rat.
“I will,” quacked the duck.
“I will,” purred the cat.

“Oh no, you won’t,” said the little red hen. “I planted the seed, I watered the corn, I cut the corn, I took it to the mill to be made into flour, and I made the bread, all by myself. I shall now eat the loaf all by myself.”

The rat, the duck and the cat all stood and watched as the little red hen ate the loaf all by herself. It was delicious and she enjoyed it, right to the very last crumb.

There are many printed editions easily available but you may like to read this online version.

 

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Drama & storytelling activities

Here is a range of drama ideas for using the story of the Little Red Hen with children.

All of these examples can be used with any story

Story circle

Sitting in a circle each person tells a short part of the Little Red Hen story and then passes the story on to the next person to continue. A toy chicken can be passed around to give status to the storyteller and to put them in charge. If a child struggles with their section of the story the teacher can freeze the game and ask another to help them out. This technique can be used to retell a story that children know well. It can show how many different variations there are of famous stories.
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Whoosh: Physicalising a story

Everyone sits in a circle to begin. The children become the characters and the objects in The Little Red Hen story as you tell it. It encourages the children to listen carefully to the storyteller and interact spontaneously with their peers. The children sitting in the circle become the audience when they are not in the centre taking part. When the centre of the circle gets crowded, or at a convenient break in the story, send the children back to their seats with a ‘whoosh’. It is an active introduction to a story in which everyone is able to take part, works well with large groups and it is a practical and speedy method of exploring a story.
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Stories in a box

Some of the significant events, places and characters from the Little Red Hen story are represented by an object and placed in a box or tin.  As the story is told the storyteller gets each object out as the moment or person or event it represents is mentioned.  This could be teacher led or be a free play activity left for children to use as they want. Try observing the children as they play.  Do they order the story or use the repetitive language? Do they begin to change it or add different animals?
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Creating Story Places in the Classroom

Whilst working on the story of the Little Red Hen, you can designate an area to transform into the farm.  Simply re-arranging the furniture and building with the children their version of it can be a very useful way of building belief in a fictitious context.  Cardboard boxes could be used to represent the different places that she travelled to. Each one could be decorated and cut so it opens out like a doll’s house.
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Still Image or Freeze Frame

This is the creation of an image/freeze frame using a group or pairs of children to capture a particular moment from the story. They use themselves as if they are a photograph. They could chose which animals they want to be or they could decide on an activity that the animals are doing when they meet Little Red Hen.
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Hot Seating

With the teacher in role as the Little Red Hen (or any of the other animals from the story), the children can interview you the class can decide what they want to ask you beforehand.
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Soundscaping

To develop atmosphere and build belief, children can create the sounds belonging to the farm, and chorally build the atmosphere with you as conductor. You can play with volume by using a stick to lower or raise up. You could story tell the break of day on the farm and all the animals waking up. Ask children to group themselves into similar animals.
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Physicalising a farm

Using a big piece of blank paper and some big chalks or pens ask the children to help make a class map of the farm.  Start with the places and animals in the story of the Little Red Hen and then ask them to add their own ideas.

Use a picture of a farm as a stimulus and ask the children to become the different places on a farm. They can become buildings, animals, or features on the landscape. Take a volunteer on a walk through the garden, or let a child be the guide.
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Role play

Role-play can take many different forms and serve as many purposes. As well as feeding the imagination and encouraging empathy, it is a powerful way of developing social skills. As well as the more formal role play situations in the classroom it is good to make room for role play where the children themselves have set the context and it is up to the adults to gently observe and support the learning.

But imaginative play is more than children having fun. It has a crucial part to play in their intellectual and social development. The ability to make one thing stand for another, to picture things that are not there, are critical features in the growth of both thought and language.

Considerations for the Early Years practitioner during role play:

  • Hold back and observe the learning, styles of learning and creative development before intervening.  In this way you can be sure that your intervention is not crushing the story they are telling or enacting.  Your role can be to extend or challenge in a focused way if you have been watching an encounter.
  • Ask focused, open ended, not closed questions. Role play does not have a right answer.

Image of 3 hens pecking

Drama games to stimulate the children’s imaginations

The Imagination Game

Bring out a ‘prop’, which can be anything – a tube, a plastic plate, a basket or anything that can be transformed into something else using the power of the imagination. Pass it around the group (not a whole class) sat in a circle. Each child takes turns to come up with an idea of what it can be by demonstrating it or telling.
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The Story Basket

Use a basket of props and have the children pick out one at a time and use it to add to the next part of a made up story. You can pick the first thing to begin the story but ask the children questions so that they first generate who it belongs to or where it might have been found or indeed what it might be. This is something that can be alongside a theme. If you wanted to create a circus story then you might pick related objects like a clown toy, a red nose, an animal or a bit string or rope.
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The Mime Mat

Have a mat or a marked out space on the floor and allow each child the opportunity to act something or pretend to be something and allow the other to guess. This works best with some preparation around mime. A good warm up for this is a game called ‘What’s in the box? You imagine a box and place it in front of you, open it up and carefully mime taking something out and using it.  You can produce a hair brush or a banana or maybe a pair of shoes. When the group have had the chance to call out what they think it is you put it back, close the box and take it to the next person who would like a go. All of the above works well around a theme – the seaside, a forest, a strange planet.

 

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