The emperor looks with disappointment at the beautiful flowers before him. At last he approaches Ping and asks why his pot is empty. Ping explains that he did his best to grow the flower but it just would not grow. Then the emperor smiles and exclaims that he has found his replacement. Who? And why?
This book is not one that you want to read straight through. Stop at different spots in the narrative to ask comprehension and cognition questions like:
2. Has Ping tried his best to help the seed to grow? How can you tell?
3. Does Ping ever give up and stop trying? How do you know?
4. Why doesn't Ping just go out and buy a fully-grown, beautiful bouquet of flowers?
5. Do you think Ping's father gave him good advice? Why or why not? What's the difference between doing your best and being the best?
6. Why do you think the emperor seems unhappy with all the beautiful plants?
7. What had the emperor done? Why? Do you think his "tricky" challenge seemed dishonest?
8. Whom do you think is the best choice for emperor? Why?
9. What is integrity?
10. What do we mean when we say Ping showed integrity?
1. Ask students to make posters illustrating moments when Ping showed integrity. For extension, have them also draw the ways in which he showed great responsibility in problem-solving.
2. Challenge students to create a class "integrity" pledge.
3. Help students to create a bibliography of books that remind them to act with integrity.
4. Have students author their own storybook about a time it was difficult to be honest or show integrity.
5. Ask students to evaluate the importance of sharing a story like The Empty Pot with other children their age. Would they recommend that other teachers (or parents) read this story to elementary-aged students? What about to older students? Let them explain their reasoning in a persuasive paragraph.
6. Ask students to journal the answer to the following prompts: Why might it be important that your friend have integrity? How would you know if a friend has integrity? Would you be able to be friends with someone who doesn't show integrity?
7. If you've got a community partner who might donate some seeds, send a packet home for students to plant as a reinforcement for the lesson.
8. Use the story as a springboard to your Science unit on plant growth. Why would a cooked seed not grow? Let students experiment and see for themselves, then have them chart or map their observations.