Hitch your wagon to a star.                                                                                                                                                                                          (Emerson)   

                                                                                                          per·se·ver·ance  [pur-suh-veer-uhns] – Noun

Steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

doggedness, steadfastness.

                                                          What is perseverance?

  • Perseverance is commitment, hard work, patience, endurance.
  • Perseverance is being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint.
  • Perseverance is trying again and again.


You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try.                               (Beverly Sills)


March is the month of Perseverance. What a perfect month.! It's the time when the New Year's Resolutions begin to wane. The resolve begins to dissolve. The school year is almost over. Spring is in the air. Yet, the students must persevere to see their studies through to the very end. It's also the time when basketball's March Madness begins. How do athletes keep the spirit to play that final game, when they have suffered a losing season? It's called Perseverance.

Athletes, Honor Students, Inventors, Astronauts...the list goes on. Their achievements came after giving 150% to their goals. An inventor often cited as a man that exemplified Perseverance is Thomas Alva Edison. He is famous for his many inventions. He was fond of saying "..... I speak without exaggeration when I say that I have constructed 3,000 different theories in connection with the electric light, each one of them reasonable and apparently likely to be true. Yet only in two cases did my experiments prove the truth of my theory."


"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Accordingly, a 'genius' is often merely a talented person who has done of  his or her homework."

There are many stories about perseverance - both folktales and stories about real folks. A familiar story is the Aesop Fable "The Tortoise and the Hare." Here is the standard version: The Tortoise and the Hare. However, it is fun to modernize the story with anachronisms. You could even go so far as to fracture the story. See Fractured Thoughts.  Before I tell you my version, here are some thoughts to ponder:

 On Your Own Questions: Have you ever been in a race? How does it feel to be in a race where all the other contestants are bigger, stronger, and faster than you? What does the word "underdog" mean to you? What is important to you in a it winning - everyone loves to win - or is it the chance to do your best no matter the outcome? No one likes to lose, but "you win some and you lose some." Find out how not being the biggest, strongest or fastest was not enough to win in The Tortoise and the Hare.

                                                                                           The Tortoise and the Hare      

                                                                                           adapted by Marilyn Kinsella

Long ago there was a hare - not just an ordinary, run of the mill, bun-rab. No! This was the fastest hare in the forest. He could finish a race before you said "Jack Rabbitson!" He was sooo fast, they called him "Fast Freddy." He was always challenging the other animals to a race around the lake - bear, deer, even skunk. Of course, he always won. But, he was not a good winner, because every time he won, he'd say, "Look at me! Look at me! I'm the fastest. You lost! You lost! Hoo-Hoo!"

Now, I don't know about you, but I just hate it, when someone acts all biggity in the britches, just because they win. But that's just the way that hare was.

After awhile, nobody wanted to race him any more. One day, Fast Freddy was running around the lake. He was wearing his silk running shorts and t-shirt with his favorite number on it. Can you guess, what that number was? That's right...Numero Uno! He had a sweat band on his forehead, Nike tennies on his feet, and a water bottle strapped to his hip. He was lookin' good! A real Type A personality. He stopped to do some stretches ,when he saw a tortoise, aptly named Slow-Moe, sunning himself on a rock. He thought to himself, "How lazy can one get? Look at him just lying there like a lump on a bump." Finally, he couldn't take it and said, "Hey Slow-Moe, why don't you get up off that rock and do some exercise. Why I could run around this lake 20 times before you ever got out of the starting gate."

Slow-Moe opened one lazy eye. "Oh, it's you. I don't need to exercise to win a race with you. My motto is, "Step by step, slow but sure, wins the race."

Fast Freddy just about fell over laughing. "You? Beat me? Oh, now that's rich. I could beat you blind-folded, in the rain, in the dark, with one foot tied behind my back!"

Tortoise just yawned, "You think so? Okay then, meet me at the starting gate in one week. We'll see who wins."

Sure enough, one week later there they were, Tortoise and Hare, ready for the big run around the lake Word spread like wildfire through the forest. Every animal was there. They all carried signs and wore T-shirts with a picture of Sow-Moe and his favorite saying..."Step by step, slow but sure, wins the race." You see, they had all lost to Fast Freddy in the past and his stinging words still echoed in their ears. Tortoise may be the underdog, but he was their hero.

As the checkered flag went down, tortoise and hare were on their way. Fast Freddy took the lead - Whoosh! He looked back and said, "Eat my dust, Slow-Moe!" Tortoise stuck out his neck and legs and began to run...well, let's just say... he moved as fast as he could.

Fast Freddy had not been on this path for awhile, and he was surprised to see that up ahead there was a little Mini-Mart run by badger . Outside there were frosty bottles of Gatorade. Mmm-mm! He loved Gatorade! Slow-Moe was so far behind, hare bought 5 bottles and gulped them down. Gulp, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp. Ahh! and he was on his way.

Further down he saw a Sports R Us store. Whoa! skunk let him try all the new exercise machines and sports equipment. Then, hare whipped out his credit card and bought a new set of weights to be delivered to his humble abode.

Back on the track again, but still in the lead, he saw a sportswear store run by deer that sold all the latest in sports wear. He tried on 30 new pairs of shorts and tops before he decided what he wanted. When he got outside, he didn't notice tortoise was a little closer. Fast Freddy ran on.

He was about 3 quarters the way around, when he saw all-natural, high protein, quick energy Food Emporium. Bear was scooping up some delicious creamy ice cream, when Fast Freddy came inside. He was so hungry he ordered - 3 turkey burgers, a double order of sweet potato fries and a the super-sized mocha-fruttata-latte with extra cream. He scarfed that food down and out he went. By now, he wasn't running as fast. If he had looked behind him, he would have seen that tortoise was actually gaining on him. But, all Fast Freddy could see was the new massage and spa parlor ahead.

It seems squirrel and some chipmunks took their seed money and opened it. Fast Freddy was so sore, he decided to go in for a their special treatment. After a nice warm spa, the animals gathered around and began to massage Hare's sore muscles. "Oooh, ahhh!" He had a hot towel over his eyes, and he was soon fast asleep. He had a dream that he was running the race and everyone was cheering for him. When he woke up, he could still hear the cheering. Hmmm...

He jumped out of the massage bed and onto the track. What did he see? Why it was Tortoise just ready to cross the finish line! All the animals were cheering him on. Fast Freddy ran at break-neck, super-turbo speed, and it looked like he was going to win, but he wasn't fast enough. There was Tortoise stretching his neck waaaay out...and he won by a nose hair.




The crowd went wild as Slow-Moe accepted the trophy. Tortoise was very humble as he said..."Step by step, slow and sure, wins every time," Then, with a wink and a nudge he added, "...with a little help from my friends."


          Using the four QAR Reading Strategies: There are many questions to ask. Some of these try to relate to character traits:

1.  Right there - What were the animals besides tortoise and Hare in the story? Where was the race track? What was Hare's favorite drink?

2.  Think and Search: Read both versions of the story above.                     Venn Diagram

Make a Venn diagram. List all the ways the two stories are alike and put them in the middle and the ways they are different in the outer sections. What caused Hare to lose the race? What caused Tortoise to win? What choices did Hare make while racing? How did this affect the outcome?

3.  Author and You: The storyteller described the tortoise and hare by giving examples of how they behaved. Review the 12 character traits. What character traits do you see in tortoise and in hare? What do you see lacking? Do you think Hare ever knew that the other animals were in cahoots with tortoise? Why or why not? Do you think Tortoise won the race fairly? Why do you think Hare was so distracted during the race?

4.  After On Your Own:  Tortoise always said "step by step, slow and sure, wins the race". Can you think of any other stories (fiction and non-fiction) that follow this theme? Is the story of Thomas Alva Edison in any way like the Tortoise and the Hare - how? In the story, Hare made the animals angry at him by being a poor sport. What are some ways you can be a "good sport" when you win? What kind of sport/activity is it actually better to go slow and sure? (mountain climbing, tightrope walking, etc)

                                           Thanks to Phyllis Hostmeyer for helping with QAR

Character Ed:

After reading the story the Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper, students complete a chart of things they had to use perseverance to accomplish and then draw or write their accomplishments on tag board cut in the shape of train cars. 2nd grade from  6-7th grades based on Holocaust.

Language: Discuss metaphors, onomatopoeia play on words, colloquialisms, axioms, irony, anachronisms. Find explicit and implied examples of each. There are many stories about unequal contestants. Read some of these and then make up an original stories with unequal contestants.

Science: There are many adaptations that make rabbit fast and turtle slow. Each helps the animal survive in its environment. List those adaptations.

Math: Make a map of the track around the lake. Use a scale to measure the distance around the lake. Figure the miles per hour that rabbit and tortoise normally run. How long would it take each to finish the race - if neither stopped.

Social Studies - "Entrepreneur " - discuss its meaning and how it related to the story. Draw a map of the lake and the new stores around it. Put up some bulletin boards a long the track as advertisements.

Art - Go to and type in "tortoise and the hare," then click on images. Discuss the various ways the artists chose to illustrate. Design a book cover for the book.


Children's stories, folktales and books

Books for older students

True stories on the net



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