Stories for Ethical Choices
Fun and timeless tales, engagingly narrated, with open-ended questions for building positive character and critical thinking.
Use these resources in conjunction with Epic Ethics Curriculum or as stand alone mini-lessons.
The Elves and the Shoemaker
This 7 minute video contains a complete lesson around the Brothers Grimm story of the Elves and the Shoemaker illustrating mutual indebtedness. Through extending kindness and respect we beget abundance. This story is a wonderful complement to the holiday season (and perfect for Remote Learning!)
The Cracked Pot
This beautiful story teaches that everyone is unique and has has a gift to share with the world. Often, what is seen as disability or difference can cause lasting psychological impact. This ancient Chinese parable flips notions of perfection and calls for us to see differences as assets.
The Old Man and His Grandson
This classic tale from the Brothers Grimm teaches empathy and a culture of treating our elderly with respect and kindness. There is a simple yet profound wisdom in youth that has the power to heal the prejudice of adulthood. This story is perfect for intergenerational discussions and highlighting cultural diversity in the classroom as students share the manners in which their families consider and treat aging.
The Three Languages
Today, in our climate crisis it may seem reasonable to revisit the reasons why our ancestors studied the languages of nature as participants rather than simply to catalog. This old folktale collected by the Brothers Grimm juxtaposes fidelity between generations, blood line and the Divine. It asks the question, “What is worth learning?” In the end, Tribe is about mutual love, not necessarily blood relations. And something bigger, indescribable, is the broth seasoned by our integrity and capriciousness.
The Lion and the Mouse
Aesop’s Fable of the Lion and the Mouse. A great story for teaching empathy and self confidence!
Anansi and the Pot of Wisdom
This story lesson teaches the communal importance of sharing. Anansi is the West African mythic trickster. This resource of folklore teaches indigenous ethics deeply rooted in the cosmology of native West African tribes. It provides an opportunity for social emotional learning though a non Euro-centric lens.
The Blind Men and the Elephant
This folktale from Persia highlights the importance of having different perspectives. Various viewpoints can be correct but not complete, emphasizing the power of diversity.
The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf
This is the classic Grimm Brothers folktale of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. The story builds an understanding of personal responsibility concerning community.
The Ugly Fairy
This story of empathy teaches that our detractions are also our gifts.
Coyote Returns Water from the Frog People
This Native American Kalapuya tale uses humor and cunning to illustrate the harm that comes from hoarding resources. This tale touches on relevant contemporary ecological themes of water shortage and the questionable ethics behind the building of dams.
The Fox and the Grapes
The classic Aesop’s fable that teaches that we can’t always get what we want. Age of entitlement? This is an old theme that humans have long struggled with as this ancient parable demonstrates. This fable underscores the importance of merit and self accountability.
Coyote Brings Fire to the People
This Shoshone origin story teaches empathy and teamwork.
Two Goats at a Bridge
This French folktale teaches the value of compromise and the dangers of self righteousness.
Anansi and the Talking Melon
This hilarious West African trickster story features Anansi the spider. The smallest things can point out our hubris. Themes involve understanding the pitfalls of assumptions and the gullibility of leaders wishing personal flattery and wealth.
The Unmannerly Tiger
This old folktale from Asia illustrates the consequences of dismissing acts of kindness.
Clever Mouse and Deer
A fun Malaysian trickster tale that teaches wit and cunning are crucial to survival.
Brer Rabbit Falls Down a Well
This African American folktale teaches the balance between work-ethic, humor and street-smarts.
Badger Carries Darkness: Apache Folktale
This Native American myth from the White Mountain Apache demonstrates the calamity that can accompany lies and selfishness. Each of us carries responsibilities that others may not realize or understand. Assumptions sometimes come with severe consequences.
The Rabbit in The Moon
This Japanese folktale teaches the importance of sharing with those less fortunate and the power of self sacrifice. It is an amazing story to foster empathy.
El Tejón Lleva Oscuridad: Cuento Popular de los ApachesHere
Este mito Indígena de los Apaches de la Montaña Blanca demuestra la calamidad que puede acompañar a las mentiras y al egoísmo. Cada uno de nosotros tenemos responsabilidades que otros tal vez no se den cuenta o no comprendan. A veces, las suposiciones tienen graves consecuencias.
Mother Crow and Mother Hawk
Families come in many different forms. Roles and heredity do not always follow conventional lines. What does it mean to be related by blood compared to culture? When do we accept responsibilities outside of our community and what are the consequences of neglect? This Indigenous Pueblo folktale has powerful parallels with many current challenges to kinship and community.
One Eye! Two Eyes! Three Eyes!
This Brothers Grimm Folktale stresses how it feels to be excluded or oppressed for physical differences. It asks the question, “What if something that seems so normal, like having two eyes, was was discriminated against?”
The Dreaming Tree
From the villages of the Amazon comes this Brazilian Folktale about the power of connection to nature and the consequences of short-sighted greed. The story touches on these of bullying, integrity, discipline, and one person’s ability to heal an entire village.
The Hidden One: A Mi'kmaq Folktale
This story is sometimes called one of the Native American Cinderella tales due to its analogous features. Many cultures around the world have very similar stories. The story builds on themes of empathy and authenticity with one’s self. Like many Native American stories demonstrate, relationships with Nature guide the path to prosperity.
Sadko and The Sea King's Daughter
The pull toward home can be as strong as the tides. This Russian folktale touches on themes of responsibility, generosity and honesty. If we are not true to ourselves, if our community does not conspire to help us tap into our inner passions, great consequences await.