Grade K-2

No Room For A Sneeze

Updated: May 10 2016,
Author: Stacey Pehosh

This lesson teaches students about scarcity and standard of living. In the book “No Room for a Sneeze”, a folktale retold by Robyn Supraner, a farmer and his wife must deal with scarcity in their home so they turn to the Wiseman for advice. In the story students will learn about scarcity and ways to deal with scarcity.


In the story "No Room for a Sneeze," a folk tale retold by Robyn Supraner, a farmer and his wife are going crazy because they have a lot of noisy kids and a tiny house. Finally, in utter frustration over their scarcity of space, the farmer's wife sends the farmer to see the Wiseman about what they should do to make their lives easier. In other words, scarcity is their unlimited wants exceeding their limited resources. They never expected him to give them the advice he did, but they were so desperate (and he was the Wiseman, after all) that they took his advice. 

Each time he gave advice they became more desperate, but they kept on doing what he said. In the end, their lives were A LOT better and it was all free! The students will learn that sometimes it takes a lot of "crazy" for us to see what we have from a new perspective.

Learning Objectives

  • List and discuss options for solving a (scarcity) of space problem.
  • List the things they would do to solve a space problem in their home.
  • List the things the Wiseman told the family to do and compare with the previous list.
  • Demonstrate their understanding of "scarcity" by completing a worksheet/interactive.

Resource List

  • "No Room for a Sneeze!" retold by Robyn Supraner: Unhappy with their overcrowded house, a man and his wife go to the Wiseman who gives them some unusual advice. Use this link to purchase the book or check your local library for a copy of this story.
  • "It's Too Noisy!" by Joanna Cole: A poor farmer lives in a small house with his wife, parents, and lots of children. The house is too noisy, so the farmer seeks advice from the Wiseman. Use this link to purchase the book or check your local library for a copy of this story.
  • No Room for a Sneeze Worksheet: This worksheet is used to create a story and illustrate each sentence in the boxes provided.
  • Scarcity Worksheet: This worksheet has the students demonstrate their understanding of scarcity through matching pictures together.
    Scarcity Printable Worksheet
  • Scarcity Interactive: This activity is the interactive version of the Scarcity Worksheet. The drag n' drop will have students demonstrate their understanding of scarcity through matching pictures together.
    Scarcity Drag n' Drop Interactive


Before reading the story, write at the top of a piece of chart paper "Problem: crowded, noisy, small house." Explain to the students that this is scarcity, and that means their want for more space exceeded their ability to provide more space (a bigger house). Draw a line under it and then divide the rest of the chart paper down the middle. Ask the students (prompting when necessary) what would happen if they had several brothers and sisters and a little house (you might give a description of how small the house is). Then ask them what they could do about it. Record these answers on the left side of the chart paper under the heading (answers should include things like build on another room, move to a bigger house, have a garage sale, give things away, etc.). 

Now read the story "No Room For a Sneeze!" Point out that the farmer and his wife had the same problem that they had already talked about and ask if their problems were similar to the ones the kids had described. Ask the students what things the Wiseman told the farmer and his wife to do to solve their problem and record them on the right half of the chart paper. Compare the lists.

After you have done this as a class, have the students complete this worksheet.  Ask the students to fill in the blanks for each sentence describing something they have. Then ask them to fill in the blanks about what they want. This way the students can grasp the concept of scarcity. Finally, ask them to answer the question at the bottom of the sheet, as to why what they have might be better than what they want. Have the students print out their worksheet and illustrate their sentences.

Also, explain to the students what standard of living means. Then ask the students if their standard of living would change if they were to trade places with the farmer in the story, or if they traded places with some of the children in the stories. Ask the students why their standard of living would change. 


Explain to students that compared to many children in the world, sometimes children in America must also overcome the difficulties of scarcity. Remind them that "scarcity" means not having enough to satisfy our unlimited wants. There are several ways one can overcome the problem of scarcity, like the farmer and his wife did.

Extension Activity

You could take the lesson to the next level by looking at scarcity on a global level. You can use any book that focuses on the day-to-day lives of children. Some examples might be:

" " by Barbara Margolies. This book introduces the similarities and differences of African life for children of many cultures.

" " by Florence Perry. Set in Cairo, Egypt, this book shows Ahmed's life in a crowded marketplace.

" " by David Smith. To make the idea of a world of 6.2 billion people more understandable, children should imagine the population of the world as a village of just 100 people. The world is seemingly getting smaller and this book enhances that sentiment.

After you finish reading a selected book, have the student's think of the best day they have ever had. It might be a special birthday, a great Christmas, or a super vacation. Next, ask the students to fill out this "standard of living" worksheet, and ask them to think about the stories that were read about children in other countries. Have them think about the character's best day or most exciting thing and fill in the worksheet. Discuss as a class how their standard of living compares with the children in the stories. Is it better or worse? Are they thankful for all they have or do they always want more?


Use the following activity to expound upon scarcity. Have the students complete the Interactive Drag 'n Drop Activity OR the Printable Activity. Remind them that scarcity can occur with food, space, money, etc. Scarcity occurs whenever we do not have the means for the items or service we want. This activity suggests that scarcity can be (temporarily) relieved, but in reality, scarcity is a condition that can almost never be relieved as our unlimited wants always exceed our limited resources. Be sure that the students accurately understand this concept.