A tiny rat trades one wonderful find for the next, each more grand than what he gave up to receive the new. This cumulative tale of transactions that will take him, and readers, full circle, provides a Punjabi flavored version of a universal folk story, with joyful cartoon images printed on heavy, textured paper.
Three Activities for kids in preschool through 2nd grade
Activity 1: What Would You Do?
For ages 3 – 6
Kids offer suggestions about which seemed to be the best bargain Choocheram made and where they would have stopped if they were the bargaining rat.
- Drawing paper
After reading the book aloud, and giving the audience time to consider each new bargain before moving along to the next choice Choocheram makes, ask them to draw a picture of how Choocheram could have used the item each child found to be his ideal stopping point. Some might want to imagine yet another trade: what would that be? How would the next bargain be even better for Choocheram to keep?
Share the drawings on the group’s available bulletin board, leaving the book on display nearby for viewers to look at for themselves.
Activity 2: Map the Way to Your Own Home
For ages 5-7
Just as we see Choocheram’s route into his tunnel with the dried root, we can make our own maps of how to get a treasure from where we receive it to where we can put it at home.
- Optional: colored pencils, markers or crayons for designing your map more decoratively
After reading the book, go back to the opening page and discuss how the illustration includes a map. The map shows us the twisty path a burrowing rat would need to take to his home and also shows us which direction he traveled.
If you found something small and precious enough to take home with you, what path would you follow? Would you be walking along city streets? Would you be bicycling across fields? Would you be going from one floor of a building to your room in your own apartment?
Each child can suggest something small they have found and wanted to keep safely at home. After this discussion, invite them to draw a simple map that shows the starting point for where they discovered their items and the route they then followed to get it home (and maybe into their own room).
Share the maps and compare how straightforward some routes look in contrast with more twisty ones. Has anyone shown why a particular detour had to be included along the route?
Activity 3: The Invisible Bargain
For ages 4-7
Bargain invisible treasures around a circle.
None needed except plenty of space for the group to form one big circle, and about 15 minutes to play
Read the the story together and discuss any details that might need explaining for all to understand both the concept of “bargaining” and each of the items Choocheram had in his possession at one time or another*.
Invite everyone to stand up in a big circle, facing the center, and explain the rules of this game:
- The starting person offers the neighbor on his left something small enough to be held in the hand. It is invisible, so the person offering will have to tell everyone in the group what to imagine (perhaps a marble, a potato chip, a feather).
- “What can you give me for this ________?” the giver asks.
- The person to whom he is making the offer suggests something slightly larger (perhaps a wand or a puppy or …)?
- The first person can decide to make the bargain or decline. If he declines, each player consults with the person on their other side, asking if the second person would like to bargain for the item each of them pretends to have.
- If the first person accepts the bargain, then each of the original pair then turns to the person on her other side to bargain with the new item she now has.
- The journey around the circle may not go smoothly because anyone may reject a bargain and the offering person will need to turn back in the opposite direction.
*Some words that may need introduction by you or a member of the group are:
palanquin – a fancy covered chair positioned on two poles so that six people can carry the chair and its occupant
roti – a flat bread common in India and throughout South Asia