This is a story about how Bear learned a lesson from Turtle.
Subskill: Reading Comprehension
Concept: Cause and Effect
Grade Level: Middle Elementary
One day Bear went for a walk through the snowy forest. It was so cold that all the lakes had frozen over. He was not in a very good mood. He had not yet learned that it was good for him to sleep through the winter season.
Bear bragged to all the animals as he passed by, “Did you know? I’m the strongest animal in the forest. Did you hear? I’m the fastest animal in the forest.”
Suddenly, he came to the edge of a frozen lake and saw Turtle sticking his head out of a hole in the ice.
“Hello Bear,” said Turtle.
“Hello, slow one,” said Bear.
“I’m not slow,” said Turtle.
“Sure you are,” said Bear. “I’m the fastest animal in the forest.”
“No, you’re not,” said Turtle,
“Yes, I am,” said Bear, shocked that Turtle would speak to him like that.
“No, you’re not,” said Turtle. “In fact, I’m much faster than you are!”
Bear could not believe his ears. “Fine, why don’t you prove it then?” said Bear.
“I will,” said Turtle, thinking that he must find a way to teach Bear a lesson.
“Tomorrow morning, you and I will race. Whoever finishes first is the winner.”
Bear laughed. “That sounds good to me. But how will you race me? You’re a water animal.”
Turtle thought for a while. “Well, I’ll swim in the water under the ice and you can run along the edge of the lake. I’ll make holes in the ice from here to there, and I’ll pop my head up when I reach a hole. That way you’ll be able to see how far I am each time.”
The next morning, just as the sun was rising, all the animals gathered at the edge of the frozen lake. Fox was the starter. He explained the rules and said how they would run to the edge of the lake and back. Then he barked “Go!”
Turtle jumped into the water and started swimming fast. Bear, on the other hand, started walking slowly along the edge of the lake. He did not think there was any need to hurry. Then he saw Turtle’s head pop up through the first hole and disappear again.
“What! How can this be?” said Bear as he started to walk faster. All of a sudden, he saw Turtle’s head pop up at the second hole. “Impossible!” said Bear. Now he started to jog, but before he reached the second hole, he saw Turtle’s head pop up at the third hole.
“It’s time to be serious,” thought Bear, as he started to run really fast. He ran faster and faster until his legs ached and his breathing was short and heavy. But each time he would see Turtle’s head popping up ahead of him through the holes in the ice.
By the time Bear was half way around the lake, he saw Turtle was already on the bank. The animals cheered! Turtle had won the race!
Bear was very upset. He dragged himself home, feeling tired and angry, and went to sleep until spring. In fact, ever since then, all bears sleep till spring so they can forget how Bear lost the race to Turtle!
Meanwhile, all the animals had a big party and feast in Turtle’s honor. They were so happy that Turtle taught Bear a lesson.
When the last animal had gone home, Turtle carefully looked around. Then he went to the edge of the lake and tapped on the ice. One by one, through the holes in the ice, turtles popped their heads up. They were Turtle’s relatives and they all looked just like him.
Here are some questions to ask at the end of the story:
Why did Bear walk slowly at the beginning of the race?
Bear called Turtle “Slow one.” What would have happened if Bear had said to Turtle, “You are really fast”? How do you think this would have changed the story?
Bear lost the race because Turtle tricked him. What would have happened if Turtle had not played a trick on Bear?