Using Our Tongues
Our tongues can be used for good and bad
by Jan Edmunds (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To encourage us to tell the truth rather than telling tales.
Preparation and materials
- Optional: you may wish to have a dictionary available to look up the meaning of the word ‘gossip’.
- Ask one of the children to come to the front to show the rest of the children their tongue. Explain that you are not asking them to be rude, but you want to talk about our tongues. When the child has shown everyone his/her tongue, ask him/her to sit back down again.
- Ask the children why they think the tongue might be such an important part of our anatomy.
Listen to a range of responses.
Without our tongues, we could not taste things, eat or talk and communicate by speech. Our tongues are very useful.
- However, we can also use our tongues in ways that are not good and helpful. We can say pleasant and kind things about others, but we can also spread rumours or say nasty things, which can be very hurtful.
- Sometimes, we might be asked to keep a happy secret, and then it can be very hard not to let our tongues give things away. We might be told about a present that has been bought for someone for their birthday and if we tell them what it is, the surprise could be spoilt.
- Saying hurtful things or telling tales about one another can be very unkind things to do. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the truth because we know that we may get into trouble. However, it always pays to be honest because one untruth can lead to another and make the problem worse.
- Our story today is about gossip. Who knows the meaning of the word ‘gossip’?
Listen to a range of responses.
If a dictionary is available, you may wish to ask a child to look up the definition of ‘gossip’.
The Gossip by Jan Edmunds
Old Joe and his wife Agnes had lived in their cottage for over 30 years. They had a decent enough life, but Agnes had one weakness: she was a gossip. She liked to know everyone’s business. She couldn’t keep a secret and she spread tales about everyone.
One day, when Joe was digging in his garden, his fork hit something hard. He dug deeper and uncovered an old metal box. Scraping the mud from it, he forced it open to find 12 gold coins inside. He knew that if he told Agnes about his find, she would tell everyone, and he didn’t want everyone to know their business. Some of the villagers might even claim the coins for themselves!
So, Joe decided to teach Agnes a lesson. First, he hid the metal box in his woodshed. Then, he went to the river, where he caught a fish. He took the fish back to his garden and placed it in the vegetable patch among the peas. Next, he caught a rabbit and put it in his keeper net down by the river.
Then, Joe called to Agnes. ‘My goodness!’ he said. ‘There are strange happenings around here! Look, there is a fish living among the peas!’ Next, he took Agnes to the river. ‘Look, there’s a rabbit living in the water! The fish are living on the land and the forest animals are living in the water!’
Agnes couldn’t wait to tell someone. She ran down to the village and told everyone she met about the strange happenings. Some of the villagers came to the cottage to see for themselves, but Joe had removed the fish and the rabbit by the time they arrived. There was no evidence, so no one believed Agnes’ story. After that, they refused to listen to her tales.
After a while, Joe told Agnes about the metal box and the gold coins. As he expected, she went straight down to the village to tell everyone, but the villagers no longer believed anything she said.
‘Thank goodness,’ said Joe. ‘We can live comfortably for the rest of our lives and no one need know our secret.’ This they did, and Agnes no longer told tales because she knew no one would believe anything she said. Old Joe’s plan had worked.
- Spend a short time discussing the story, asking questions such as the following.
- How long had Joe and Agnes lived in their cottage?
- What was Agnes’ weakness?
- What did Joe discover when he was digging in his garden?
- What was inside the old metal box?
- Why didn’t Joe want to tell Agnes about his find?
- What did Joe do with the fish?
- What did Joe do with the rabbit?
- When Joe showed the fish and the rabbit to Agnes, what did she do?
- Why didn’t the villagers believe Agnes?
- When Joe showed Agnes the gold coins, what did she do, and what happened next?
Time for reflection
Our tongues can do a lot of damage, so we should always think before we say things.
We should not say spiteful things about other people and we should be sure that the words we speak and the words we pass on to others are truthful.
Let us try to find the right words so that we do not say things that will get us into trouble. Bad words can make us sound like unpleasant people. Let the words that we say and the things that we do show thoughtfulness and kindness to others.
Thank you for our amazing bodies.
Please help us to use our tongues well.
Help us to speak kind and helpful words.
Help us to use our tongues to make others feel better.
‘Go, tell it on the mountain’ (Come and Praise, 24)