The Crow and the Pitcher


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This lesson will teach you about the concept of scarcity, how scarcity causes us to make choices, and how entrepreneurs help manage scarcity problems. Scarcity is when a person (or in this case, an animal) wants more of something than is available. Because of scarcity, people have to make choices. They must give up some things in order to have others. Scarcity exists all around us--money can be scarce if you don't have enough to buy lunch, natural resources can be scarce, such as oil used to make petroleum. Before making a decision, everyone should balance the additional benefits against additional costs of each alternative. When someone uses specialization, they focus on producing the things they do best at the lowest cost. They then trade those things with others to get what they want. Trade only happens when everyone’s benefits exceed their costs.


Listen to the story, "The Crow and the Pitcher." In the story the Crow is faced with a scarcity of water. You will participate in an activity with your classmates, and help each other by trading to obtain different colored crayons.



In a spell of dry weather, when the birds could find very little to drink, a thirsty Crow found a pitcher with a little water in it. But the pitcher was high and had a narrow neck, and no matter how it tried, the Crow could not reach the water. The poor thing felt it must die of thirst.

Then an idea came to the crow. Picking up some small pebbles, it dropped them into the pitcher one by one. With each pebble the water rose a little higher until at last it was near enough so it could drink.

In a pinch a good use of our wits may help us out.

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After reading the story, your teacher will give each of you five crayons of the same color. The color you have may not be scarce for you, but the other colors that are available are. By trading with other students, you can exchange the crayons that you value less with the color crayons that you value more. There may be more than five colors in the classroom, so you must make a choice of which colors you want the most. After you are done trading, you will color a picture of the crow and the pitcher.


The crow had an entrepreneurial idea of how to get the water level to rise high enough for it to drink from the pitcher. The crow took a risk by choosing to stay at the pitcher instead of looking elsewhere for another water source. 

The crow demonstrated traits of an entrepreneur.  An entrepreneur is someone who discovers new ways of doing things, invents new products using productive resources, or finds a way to reduce costs of getting something. They take risks by starting new businesses. By using the resources at hand, the crow succeeded at getting water. The crow can now specialize in a business based on its ideas and trade with others.

Go over the trading activity and explain how you addressed your own scarcity problem. Think about other things in your life that are scarce and different choices you must make.

One example is the scarcity of space. You have a limited amount of space in your bedroom, so you must decide how to use the space for your bed, toys, play space, a dresser, a desk or other things you may own. Money is also scarce. Because they can't own all the clothes in a store, students, parents, teachers and others must select outfits they like the most, and their clothes are washed and worn again. You can't wear all their clothes at the same time, so they must choose one outfit to wear at a time. You can't have all of the toys you want, so you must choose which ones you want the most. If you are given money for your birthday, you can choose to spend it, save it, give to others, or a little of each. Since time is scarce, a person can’t play basketball and soccer at the same time. They must decide which sport they would rather play at that particular time. Can you think of some things that you want more of but can't have?


Answer the following questions:


Activity 1

Put your geography knowledge to the test by answering these questions about the story, "The Crow and the Pitcher."


Activity 2


One bright day in late autumn a family of Ants were bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out the grain they had stored up during the summer, when a starving Grasshopper, his fiddle under his arm, came up and humbly begged for a bite to eat.

"What!" cried the Ants in surprise, "haven't you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?"

"I didn't have time to store up any food," whined the Grasshopper; "I was so busy making music that before I knew it the summer was gone."

The Ants shrugged their shoulders in disgust.

"Making music, were you?" they cried. "Very well; now dance!" And they turned their backs on the Grasshopper and went on with their work.

There's a time for work and a time for play.

Read the fable "The Ants and the Grasshopper" from Aesop's Fables  (page 34) in class and apply the same economic concepts to this story. In this case it is time in the summer and fall, and food supplies in the winter that are scarce. Both the ants and the grasshopper had two choices: work and play. Decisions we make today have consequence that lie in the future. Answer how the ants managed their scarcity problem, and what the consequence was for the grasshopper who didn't prepare during the warmer months. Explain how saving now helps us in the future. A secondary lesson in this fable is how the grasshopper can become an entrepreneur and use his specialization (music), as a means for trade.  Answer the following questions:

1.      Why didn’t the ants give the grasshopper any food?

2.     The grasshopper’s best ability seems to be playing music, while the ants are good at hauling heavy loads of food. What is this term called?

3.     What could the grasshopper offer in return for food to make a trade possible?