What is a Friend?

Some stories from the book Thinking Trees and Laughing Cats (A Thinking Curriculum for Pre-School Education), a book published by the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC). These stories are meant to be introduction stories for a philosophical discussion with children (and adults, too!). I spent two weeks in New Jersey, USA just inhaling and exhaling the philosophies of Philosophy for Children (how redundant). This is one of the books I really liked. Enjoy 🙂

photo from http://www.gucicanz.info


One day, the teacher asked the children to draw pictures of their friends.  The next day they were showing their pictures to the class.  There were picture of boys and girls from the class.  Some pictures were really nice.

Now it was Elfie’s turn to show her picture.  Her picture was different from the others.  It was a picture of a pine-tree.  Some kids started laughing.  Elfie said, “My father planted this pine-tree near our house when I was born.  We are growing together.  And we are good friends.”

 Everyone was silent.  The children were looking at the picture and thinking.

photo from http://www.fwd2all.com


One day, Robin showed Sara a small green frog in his hand.  Robin said to Sara, “This frog is my friend.”

 Sara asked, “Why is this frog your friend?”

 Robin thought a bit, then said, “Well, I played with this frog today.  We hopped on the rock together.  I think if we play together, we are friends—aren’t we?”

 “I’m not sure,” Sara answered.  “I played with a ball today.  Does that mean the ball is my friend?”

 Robin laughed and said, “How could a ball be your friend?  Balls aren’t alive!”

Sara said, “Do you think only living things can be friends?”

 This made Robin stop and think.  And after he thought, he said, “Yes, I think so.  A thing can’t be your friend if it isn’t alive.  Can it?”

 Sara didn’t answer right away.  She looked down at the small green frog.  She petted it gently.

 “Well?” Robin said.  Sara looked up at him.  “I was just thinking about my doll, Harper,” she said.

Click this to view the whole book (with exercises)


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