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The town mouse and the country mouse: A fable by Aesop

To illustrate how it is better to have enough of what we need and live happily than to have everything we want but live in fear of losing it.

by Jude Scrutton

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To illustrate how it is better to have enough of what we need and live happily than to have everything we want but live in fear of losing it.

Preparation and materials

  • Two mouse masks.

  • 5 minutes with two children before the assembly to discuss their roles.
  • You could prepare two other children to speak the mouse parts.
  • Research Aesop’s background so that you know enough about him.

Assembly

  1. Introduce Aesop and explain to the children who he was.

    Ask children if they know where he was born. (Ethiopia)

    When was he born? (Lived approximately 620–560 BC.)

    Why do we only have an approximate knowledge of his lifespan?

  2. Discuss how Aesop was a slave and an author.

    Ask the children to draw similarities and differences with Jesus (main similarity – both told stories to crowds that had a moral that was aiming to help people live better lives).

  3. Read the following story. While reading, two children to mime the story.

    The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse – a fable

    Now you must know that a Town Mouse, once upon a time, went on a visit to his cousin in the country. He was rough and ready, this cousin, but he loved his town friend and made him heartily welcome. Beans and bacon, cheese and bread were all he had to offer, but he offered them freely. The Town Mouse rather turned up his long nose at this country fare, and said: ‘I cannot understand, Cousin, how you can put up with such poor food as this, but of course you cannot expect anything better in the country. Come you with me and I will show you how to live. When you have been in town a week, you will wonder how you could ever have stood a country life.’

    No sooner said than done: the two mice set off for the town and arrived at the Town Mouse’s residence late at night. ‘You will want some refreshment after our long journey,’ said the polite Town Mouse, and took his friend into the grand dining room. There they found the remains of a fine feast, and soon the two mice were eating up jellies and cakes and all that was nice. Suddenly they heard growling and barking. ‘What is that?’ said the Country Mouse. ‘It is only the dogs of the house,’ answered the other. ‘Only!’ said the Country Mouse. ‘I do not like that music at my dinner.’

    Just at that moment the door flew open, in came two huge dogs, and the two mice had to scamper down from the table and run off. ‘Good-bye, Cousin,’ said the Country Mouse, ‘What! Going so soon?’ said the other. ‘Yes,’ he replied.

  4. Ask the children what they think the moral of the story is.

    Share Aesop’s intended moral of the story: ‘Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear.’

    Ask children if they can think of another appropriate moral for the story in modern times.

  5. Direct children to thinking about what is important in life. Is it important to have lots of what we want but be fearful of losing it, or is it best to be thankful for what we’ve got?

Time for reflection

Light a candle, and ask children to think about times when they have begged and ‘stropped’ because they wanted something their parents and carers did not want to buy them. Was this an appropriate way to behave – could they have reacted a different way?

Song/music

‘He made me’ (Come and Praise, 18)

Publication date: November 2010   (Vol.12 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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