Because my wife is Chinese, and my kids are therefore half-Chinese (and half mutt), I try to pick up kids’ books related to China whenever I find them at thrift stores. This tale set in the distant past has long been one of our favorites, a classic story with a great ending. It has a lot to teach to young children about finding creative solutions to our problems, so I use it with my kindergarten kids a lot as well.
The story is that of Ming Lo and his wife who love their house but not the mountain beside which it stands. In fact, Ming Lo’s wife downright hates the mountain. She sends Ming Lo back and forth to the wise man in the village (who loves to smoke his pipe) until he can finally give advice that works. His final answer is a surprisingly effective form of dance.
While I love simply to read this book to my own kids, enjoying the pictures and the story together, I get a little bit more involved when using it in a classroom setting. There, I like to focus on teaching verbs (move, go, push, scare, feed, dance) before sending the kids to act out the story themselves. Everyone wants to be Ming Lo, though I’ve also found that excitable little girls love to play Ming Lo’s wife in order to start yelling at their “husbands”! We also take the time to draw the mountain, the house, the characters, and then to write the useful verbs down. It’s a full hour’s worth of activity and the children love it always.