Outcomes Offered

■ Self-reliance

■ Power of observation

■ Creative problem-solving

I once heard a story of a bird. I don't remember what sort of bird it was, but I suppose we could make it any sort of bird that you want. What sort of bird would you like it to be?

This bird lived in a land where there had been a very long, dry summer. It hadn't rained for a long time. The ground was so dry that even the overnight dew was soaked up as quickly as if it had fallen on a sponge. As a result the poor bird had not had a drink for a long time. It was really thirsty— so thirsty that it was feeling weaker and weaker with each passing day.

Frightened that it couldn't live much longer without water, it flew high into the air, hoping to see a patch of water somewhere in the parched land. It flew and glided, flew and glided, trying to save its energy as much as possible. Across the hot dry earth it searched for life-giving water.

Can you imagine how relieved it was when it noticed the sun glinting off something on the ground? The poor little bird glided down to investigate. There, in a spot where people sometimes picnicked, somebody had left behind a glass jar. At first the bird was excited. In the last rains, a long time ago, some water had fallen into the jar. Just enough remained in the bottom for the bird to have a refreshing drink. But then its heart sank.

The jar was tall, the water level low, and the bird couldn't get its beak deep enough down to get a drink. Realizing this, it felt even drier and thirstier. The water could save it, but the water was out of reach. What could the poor bird do?

As it looked desperately at the jar, the bird began to think ofmany possible options. It could push the jar over, but then the water was likely to spill and soak into the dry ground before the bird had a chance to drink. Maybe by holding the rim of the jar in its beak the bird could tilt it over just far enough for the water level to rise closer to the top without spilling any. But how could it hold the jar at just the right angle and drink at the same time? The bird looked around. There was nobody else to ask for help. It was a problem it needed to solve by itself.

I wish I had a straw, thought the bird, and that gave it a good idea. It looked around for a hollow stick or perhaps a long leaf that it might be able to roll into the shape of a straw but, unfortunately, it found nothing except pebbles scattered over the dry ground. The bird was frustrated. In front of it was what it wanted and needed but couldn't reach. There was nothing or no one around to help. What could it do?

In the end it gave up, weakly launched itself into the air, and flew on in search of water it could reach. It wasn't long before it came across a small pond. The water was muddy. It might taste yucky but at least it was water. As the bird approached, a huge pair ofjaws suddenly launched themselves from the pond and the bird just had enough energy to spring into the air before getting eaten.

Great, it thought, I find the only water around and a crocodile lives in it! Hovering over the pond, it noticed the watermark left by the crocodile on the banks . . . and that gave the little bird an idea. You see, it might have been a bird, but it wasn't a birdbrain. When the crocodile had leapt out, the water level must have dropped. When it flopped back in, the level rose. "Thank you, crocodile," called out the little bird as it turned back toward the jar.

Arriving at the jar, the bird picked up a pebble and dropped it in. The water level rose a little, just like when the crocodile had fallen back in the pond. The bird found another pebble and dropped that in, too. Gradually it kept adding pebble by pebble into the glass jar, and gradually the water level rose. As each pebble was patiently added the water got closer and closer to the bird's beak; it wasn't long before its patient efforts were rewarded. The water had risen high enough for the bird to drink its fill ... and fly on, happily.

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