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Stone Soup

Remember the story Stone Soup? In this classic tale, hungry but clever travelers—with nothing but stones and water—convince reluctant villagers to contribute food toward a huge, communal pot of “stone soup.” There are countless versions of this story told across the world.

In this activity, we take inspiration from this classic tale of problem solving, creativity and collaboration and invite kids to transform stones, water and the natural treasures around them into their very own marvelous soup. Now, a full lesson of Stone Soup is available in our Tinkergarten Anywhere format. Click here to try for free!

This activity is featured in our January Activity Calendar. If you do not yet have your free copy, get it here.

The Guide

Read or tell the story: 

Whether you have a copy of the story, watch a sweet read aloud like this version by Heather Frost, or just want to tell a version of the story to the kids, you can start by asking, “What do you think stone soup is? Do you think you’d like to eat stone soup?” Then, watch, read or tell the story. As you go through the story, pause to ask kids what they think about what’s going on. For example, “Why do you think the villagers are hiding their food?” “Do you think they will really make soup out of stones?”

Give an invitation: 

When story time’s over, ask kids, “How do you make stone soup? Should we try to make some?” Gently help kids recall that you need a fire, a pot, water and stones to get the soup started. Work together to make a “fire” (sticks in a pile will suffice). Produce a pot or bucket and help kids fill their pails with water. Then, hand each kid a stone to “plop” in the pot. Once kids put their stones into the water, they’re ready to make stone soup.

Shop for ingredients: 

Remind them that just like the people in the story, they will need to add other “foods” to make their soup “delicious.” To get them started, pinch a little grass and say something like, “Ooo...we could pretend the grass is carrots. What do you think? These will make our soup even tastier.”  Welcome kids to "shop" in their outdoor space for more ingredients.

Cook the soup: 

Give plenty of time for kids to continuing to gather ingredients as well as adding, stirring, mashing, etc. Stoke the pretend fire, adding wood as needed. Make time to sniff and pretend to taste the soup, oohing and ahhing, remarking about the color and aroma of the broth as any good chef would do.

Wrap up with a feast: 

When the ingredient hunt slows down, transfer the pot onto a “fire” and let it simmer while you play. Children can help stir the pot or set a “table” with sticks, leaves, and other “utensils.” Pretend to sip and savor the soup (without actually eating any, of course). When finished, dump out the remaining soup and remind kids that all of their ingredients will go back into the soil, which will help make more yummy ingredients for future soups!

Want even more inspiration for Stone Soup play?

Now, a full lesson of Stone Soup is available in our Tinkergarten Anywhere format. Click here to try for free!

Why is this activity great for kids?

As kids transform natural objects into a marvelous pretend soup, they activate their divergent thinking (one of the core components of creativity). Gathering ingredients, mashing, mixing and stirring activate multiple senses and various behavioral schema, the universal play patterns that support brain development. Best of all, activities like this give kids an easy starting place for imaginative play they can repeat and iterate on any time they are outside. With just a container and a bit of water, the possibilities are endless!

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