In time, these lessons and "stubs" will be migrated to the Buzzwords site.
Until then, consider them historical.

Aesop's Fables 6: The Ants and the Grasshopper


Which would you rather do, work hard or play hard? Is there a proper time for each?


The ants were spending a fine winter's day drying grain collected in the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him, "Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?" He replied, "I had not leisure enough. I passed the days in singing." They then said in derision: "If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter."


"I had not leisure enough" means "I didn't have enough free time."


Answer these questions about the story in complete sentences:

1. Who worked hard? Who played too much?
2. When does the story take place? When did the ants collect grain, and the grasshopper sing?
3. Why didn't the grasshopper work hard?
4. How do the ants feel about the grasshopper?
5. What do the ants say will happen to the grasshopper now?


Here is some vocabulary from the story:

a. fine: here, it means "having good weather"
b. grain: rice, wheat, or other seeds used to make simple dishes
c. to perish: to die
d. famine: sometimes, it means a situation where many people have no food, as when a storm destroys farms; but here it just means "hunger"
e. earnestly: sincerely
f. to beg: to ask for something urgently
g. to inquire of: to ask
h. to treasure up: to store, to gather and keep
i. leisure: time to relax; the act of relaxation
j. to pass the days: to spend time
k. in derision: laughing, making fun (of)
l. supperless: without supper, without eating

Use one of the above terms in each of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. When the boy fell in the mud, the other children spoke to him __________.
2. When I couldn't find the address, I __________ a man passing by.
3. If tomorrow is __________, let's have a picnic.
4. If you want to be safe when you're old, you should __________ some money when you're young.
5. Because he misbehaved, the boy was sent to bed __________.
6. If there's enough __________ treasured up, a country will be safe from famine.
7. I asked my boss __________ for more money.
8. I want to __________ reading books and talking with friends.
9. Birds may __________ if they don't go to warm places in the winter.
10. Because there was a __________, the government had to supply food to the people.
11. In my __________, I like to sing songs and write poems.
12. I didn't have enough money, so I __________ some from my friends.


There are no "right" answers. Give your own opinion. If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. What do you think this story is trying to teach?
2. Which one are you: an ant or a grasshopper? Which one would you rather be?
3. Do you think the ants should help the grasshopper, or should they let him be supperless?


Remember, there may be more than one way to express your answer.

1. The ants worked hard, and the grasshopper played too much.
2. The story takes place in winter. The ants collected grain and the grasshopper sang in summer.
3. The grasshopper didn't work hard because, he says, he didn't have enough time to play.
4. The ants feel the grasshopper is foolish.
5. The ants that now say the grasshopper will not be able to eat.


1 k in derision; 2 g inquired of; 3 a fine; 4 h treasure up; 5 k supperless; 6 b grain; 7 e earnestly; 8 j pass my days; 9 c perish; 10 d famine; 11 i leisure; 12 f begged

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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