Stone Soup is a classic story with so many different versions, all based on the same idea of sharing food and community with others. It is one of my favorites to tell at home or in the classroom, and there are so many ways to stretch and incorporate this story into more activities.
Stone Soup is a fantastic tale for children because it is engaging and contains subtle lessons around kindness and community-building, while also being simple enough for them to remember and retell or act out in their play.
Taking stories further into play or real-life experiences, like cooking, can help children build flexible thinking, empathy, and cognitive skills, making folk tales like this one an important part of the learning process.
Here is a list of some of the Stone Soup picture books and games I love, along with very simple ways to take the story even further:
Stone Soup Books (Classic Folktale Retellings and Variations)
Stone Soup Jon J. Muth
Between its delicate illustrations and kind retelling, this is one of my favorite versions of the story. Instead of soldiers or tricksters, three monks travel to a village that has been through war and famine so the villagers are unlikely to share. But the traditional story of stone soup unfolds, and the book ends with a beautiful celebration and the monks leaving the village a happier place.
Mama Panya’s Pancakes: A Village Tale From Kenya by Mary Chamberlin, Rich Chamberlin, and Julia Cairns
Similar to Stone Soup and a favorite book in our house, Mama Panya and her son Adike are off to the market so Mama can get the ingredients for her delicious pancakes. Along the way, they meet many friends, and Adika invites them all for dinner. Mama Panya doesn’t know if they will have enough food to share, but as each guest arrives they bring more food, and everyone enjoys the lovely feast together.
Community Soup by Alma Fullerton
Another tale from Kenya, this one is about a garden outside of a school where all the children are harvesting vegetables but some mischievous goats are getting in the way. This tale is almost like a mix between Stone Soup and Mary Had A Little Lamb, but is overall about a community coming together to make a delicious soup to share despite any hardships.
Everybody Serves Soup by Norah Dooley and Peter J. Thornton
Though this story isn’t a retelling of Stone Soup, I wanted to include it because it is a great way to honor different traditions and cultures and the sharing of food, especially soup. Carrie is trying to buy a gift for her mother, so to save some money she starts shoveling snow for her neighbors. While working, she learns that each family makes their own kind of soup based on their own heritage. At the end, she realizes a cookbook with recipes from her neighbors would be the most delicious gift. This is a long one, so better suited for older children, but you can still use it with younger ones to explore different kinds of soup.
Bone Button Borscht by Aubrey Davis and Duyan Petricic
This Yiddish-based retelling starts with a beggar who loves being a beggar because people are always willing to share until he reaches one quiet village that might not be as welcoming. But with some compassion and ingenuity, the village comes together just as the beggar had hoped. Another one that might be better for kindergarten and up.
Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson
If you want to make Stone Soup in your own kitchen, as well as some other easy kid-friendly dishes, this book has all the recipes you need to get started. Mollie Katzen is a renowned chef and cookbook author with books for adults and children that are all whimsical and unique. This one is on the older side, from 1994, but is still a great way to introduce cooking to young children and goes really well with a Stone Soup theme.
Stone Soup The Game
Ready to play board games? This fun, cooperative game is just right for families with young children! It’s an easy way to introduce board games to little ones who are ready to follow simple game play rules and since it is not competitive it can help teach about teamwork. The game itself is so cute, my kids and I have had hours of fun with this one.
Stone Soup Play, Activities, and Recipes
Make Stone Soup!
One of the best ways to incorporate the story of Stone Soup into your life is by making a pot of soup! Go to a grocery store, Farmers Market, or even your own garden and get the veggies you need with your child to get them involved in every step. Have them help wash, cut, and prepare all the veggies for the pot and let it cook. After it’s done, you can enjoy it together and even share some with friends and neighbors if possible. Stone optional.
Use play food and a big cooking pot to let your child recreate the story. You can even make it more interesting by hiding play food around the room so your child can find it to add to the pot.
If you don’t own a felt board, all you need is a sticky-backed piece of felt and some felt vegetable shapes. As you read or retell the story, your child can add the felt veggies to the board. You could also do this same activity with vegetable magnets or even pretend play food.
Go out on a walk to find some special stones that can be used in play (or real!) Stone Soup. When you get them home, your child can give them a very good bath so that they are ready to add to soup!
Collecting recipes can be a great way to help older children connect with friends, neighbors, and other family members, just like Carrie did in Everybody Serves Soup. Just by asking friends, neighbors, and other family members what kind of soup they love and if they would be willing to share a recipe for it, you can really learn more about others and food from other cultures and traditions. Make the soups and/or compile a recipe book that can be used at home or as a gift.
Any way you read or play it, Stone Soup is such a lovely tale to share with your kids at home or in the classroom. It’s a true classic that permeates many different cultures and traditions and can bring a lot of richness to our children’s play.
What is your favorite version of Stone Soup?