books,  homeschooling,  mathematics

Ideas for lesson plans and activities based on the Pied Piper of Hamelin

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The last week or so I’ve been reading many different variations of the Pied Piper. I’ve written about some of those different stories. I didn’t share them all with my children, but I read enough of them, and talked enough about the others, that they got a pretty good introduction.

Questions to discuss
(any of which could lead to the writing of an essay, story, skit or puppet show).

Does the amount of time and effort the piper put into the work matter? Should it matter? The people complain that he did the work so quickly it isn’t worth what they offered. Should he have invented a huge ritual to make the job seem bigger? Should he be paid the same amount as someone else would earn in that amount of time? Or does his special talent justify the higher pay? (This could lead into discussions of the pay recieved by CEOs, sports stars and actors, all of whom obtain outrageous prices on the basis that what they do is somehow unique.)

What happens after the kids and the piper go? How do the piper and kids get along? If the piper has to travel far to sell the kids, what is the journey like? If the piper and the kids live happily in the mountainside, what is that like? Could the kids convince the piper to let them go?a pulled out couch makes an instant puppet theatre. And in case you're curious, the upside down map is supposed to be that way since Northn isn't really "up"

What if the rats had a choice about following the piper? Can you pick out a reason why then they might go? Perhaps they’re trying to be more human and cultured and thus feel they want to develop musical talent? Perhaps they think the piper will lead them to a feast? Can you picture a conversation taking place about this between different rats?

(A side question would be, if you were developing a skit about the rats talking, what types of ratpersonalities would be funny? What types of story characters do you find funny, and why?)

What if the piper was brought before a court room? What type of argument could he make justifying his actions? What type of argument would the townspeople put forward?


What kind of poetry might rats write? Can you write a bit of poetry – even just a few lines – that captures the short rat-a-tat-tat sound of their feet scampering? Should the rhythm and types of sound change once there is a hoard of rats together? Try writing a poem focusing on the sounds of the words.

Pied Piper Math

 Cheese math: cut two pieces of ‘cheese’ from construction paper. Make one round (a good chance to practice using a drawing compass) and one rectangular. For each: have the child fold in half, label one half and put aside while taking the other half to cut in half again, and again, and again, each time labelling one section and dividing the other into smaller and smaller parts. Practice counting out the comparable parts: 1/2 = 2/4 = 4/8 = 8/16th etc. Once you have samples of 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 2/16th say that two rats are trying to split the cheese evenly.How could they share those samples? What if it were four rats? You only have one 1/4 piece, so can one rats get three smaller pieces? Can two rats split the larger piece?

a cheese math exercise inspired by the pied piperLay the circular parts over a drawing of a clock and talk about segments of time. What does 1/2 an hour look like? What does 1/4?


Piper Challenges:  Half the rats come out of the town in the first three minutes. Five more rats come a minute later, and then half of the remaining ones come. The next group, the final one, is composed of six rats. How many rats were there in the first place?

(If a child has trouble with questions like these, I get him to act it out using pieces of paper to represent unknown numbers and blocks to represent the known numbers. So one piece of paper could say “half the total” and then there would be a pile of five blocks, and another piece of paper saying “half remaining” and next to it six blocks. Then he can work his way back.)

The youngest child in the group is two years less than half the age of the oldest child. The oldest child is 14. How old is the youngest?

There are three more boys than there are girls. There are twice as many girls over ten years old than there are under ten years old. If there are six girls under ten years old in the village, how many children are there in total?


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