I love this book… for its artwork, its touching story, and the pondering of life’s great questions it leads its readers to.
Whether used for an interactive whole-class read-aloud or as the focus of an inquiry in small-group sessions, the three questions presented and pondered by the main character Nikolai will provide plenty of food for thought and possibly lead to some great debates.
As you and your students discuss the story and the answers Nikolai is looking for, make sure to utilize the illustrations and the insight and power they bring to the text.
Using a chart (see Three Questions worksheets) will further help your students visualize Nikolai’s debate and the truth that the answers to these questions are ever changing as we continue through life. The second page of the worksheets could be used during group discussions. Prep for this activity by copying some of the key illustrations from the text. Then have students identify the pictures that best answer Nikolai’s questions.
For example, a copy of the picture of the pandas below could be cut out and used to answer “Who is the most important?”
But as Leo the wise turtle tells Nikolai, there were other most important people and times and things to do that led Nikolai to be ready and available to help out the pandas when they were in need.
As you change out the pictures during your discussion (or create multiple charts), your students will begin to realize the deeper meanings of the story: Each moment of our life is important and so is each person that we spend time with along the way. Making the most of every opportunity to do good to those by our side is always the right thing to do. The answers to life’s questions come with seizing the day (moment by moment) and acting with others’ best interests in mind.
To help students further connect to these truths, use the first worksheet (see Three Questions worksheets) and have them identify and illustrate the answers to these questions from situations in their own lives.
Do you have a favorite activity you use with this story or another text that illustrates these truths?
Here are some of mine: