This lesson is a short discussion based around “The Toys of Peace” by Saki, a short satirical story about two parents attempts to influence their young boy’s playing habits. For this series of classes I am using short stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories” edited by A. S. Byatt. If you don’t have a copy of the book most of the short stories are available for free online. This particular short story is available here:
As with the other lessons in this series the story is set of homework the previous week. The first 5-10 minutes of the class are spent going over any vocabulary issues. This is then followed by a discussion based on the themes and issues which arise in the story.
The author Hector Hugh Munro is considered to be one of the masters of the short story. Many of his works were published posthumously following his death in World War 1. His wikipedia page may prove useful for the class discussion:
After going through any vocabulary problems (there shouldn’t be many as the story only runs to 5 pages) have the students discuss the following questions, either in small groups or as a whole class:
Discussion: Toys of Peace
- What happens in the story?
- What was your initial reaction to it?
- Describe the characters.
- What do you think of the parents attempt to influence their children?
- Do you think they are well-meaning? Or deluded?
- What toys did you play with as a child?
- Did your parents ban anything they thought would have a bad influence on you? Toys? TV shows? Etc.
- Do you agree with the expression “boys will be boys”?
- Do you think children should play with toy weapons?
- Should girls be given typically girly toys? Dolls, makeup etc.
- Are there any toys / games / other things that you think are a bad influence on children or young people
- Should these things be banned?
- The story is an example of satire. What do you think it is satirising?
- What satirical programs / writers / magazines etc. do you have in your country?
Next week: Nuns at Luncheon by Aldous Huxley