Big C and Little Ox


Big C, a cape buffalo, is a lonely grouch and has little to say. Little Ox, a little
busybody of an oxpecker, is the opposite: loves to jabber, is always in a happy mood and enjoys company. So what do the two have in common? They have a symbiotic relationship: Little Ox picks fleas off Big C and that keeps him from itching; in turn, Little Ox gets lunch. But one day, Big C and Little Ox have a quarrel and Little Ox leaves. For Big C, a lesson about friendship unfolds.

Classroom Activities

Before reading BIG C AND LITTLE OX, discuss the meaning of friendship.
Read and discuss Big C and Little Ox.
Ask the following open-ended questions:
1.    What are the qualities you want in a friend?
2.    This story is about friendship. Why are friends important? Brainstorm ideas and chart answers. Discuss the top two reasons.
3.    Fiction means a story is not based on fact. Do you think two animals of different species, such as a horse and a goat or a buffalo and a bird, can be friends? Explain.
4.    Why do you think Big C said, “I don’t need friends”?
5.    Why do you think Little Ox tried so hard to be a friend? 6.    Have you made new friends since you started school? Explain. Why is it hard to make new friends when you go to a new school? What do you think students should do when a new student enters school? Chart and post in classroom. Graph data and discuss the top three ideas.
7.    What are some activities that are more fun if done with a friend?
8.    Imagine that this story is real. Do you think Big C and Little Ox will fuss with each other again? Why or why not?
9.  "To make a friend, be a friend. To keep a friend, be a friend." What does this quote mean? Discuss things we can do that make us a good friend? Chart answers.
10.  Has a friend ever helped you or made you feel better? Explain.
11.  What are some ways to handle disagreements? Chart answers and graph data.
12.  Where do you think the setting of this story takes place?

For younger children, you may mention the African Cape buffalo. Using a globe or world map, locate the continent of Africa. Locate the area in which the students live. Discuss the differences in the areas.

Divide students into groups of two. Each student will draw a picture of the other person in each group. Label something positive about the person under each picture.

Spinning a web of friendship.  Students sit in a circle. Using a large ball of yard, one student states another student’s name and says one positive thing about the student and rolls the ball of yarn to the student while holding onto the end of the string. The student that receives the yard selects another student, states something positive. The student holds onto the string and rolls the ball of yarn to another. Keep passes the ball until all students have been selected. Watch the web grow.

Pretend you are Little Ox. Write a letter explaining why you want to be a friend to Big C. Or pretend you are Big C and write a letter explaining why you want to be a friend to Little Ox.

Dramatize an argument between Little Ox and Big C. Write a new ending to the story showing a different way in which they became friends. Include a beginning, middle, and ending to the story. Perform the skit in front of the class.

Drawing an emotion: Think how a friend makes you feel. Draw a picture or a series of pictures to express that feeling.

Create a cartoon to express how you feel about your best friend or any friend.

Write an acrostic poem about a friend. Write the letters of the friend’s first name and use each letter to begin the first word of each line.
Likes to eat
Ice cream on a hot August day.
Licks quickly.

Write a letter to a person in the class who is not a close friend. Tell why you would like to be friends and three positive traits of the person.

Interview three people in class that you do not talk with often. Take notes and write three positive things you did not know about each person.

Write a short story with a beginning, middle, and ending about friendship between two people or animals.

Pretend you are a TV journalist. You are interviewing two people who had been friends for a long time but are no long friends. Write a script and dramatize the skit. Work in groups of three: journalist and 2 former friends.

Write an article for the newspaper explaining why it is important to not judge someone until you get to know him/her.

Make a story map. Chart the main events in the story in the order in which they happen. Identify and discuss the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

Rewrite the ending of the story. Introduce the words “conflict” and “compromise.” Conflict is a disagreement between two people [or book characters]. Write an article explaining how Little Ox and Big C could work out their conflict so they can be friends. Encourage students to write about ways each of the characters could compromise. Dramatize the following emotions: Sad, happy, grouchy, grumpy, excited, worried, mad, lonely, embarrassed, jealous, etc. Pretend you are either Big C or Little Ox.

Write a two-week journal about how you feel.

Write a poem about the friendship of Big C and Little Ox.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” In a letter to the newspaper, explain what you think Mr. Emerson meant. The International Acts of Kindness Day (IAKD) is celebrated on September 25. Each student will write a letter to the principal or parents explaining how they celebrated the day with specific acts of kindness toward others. The acts may be as simple as a smile, a “Thank you” or telling someone they look nice.

Keep a “Kindness jar” on your desk filled with stickers etc. Randomly select a child to take from the jar when you see a student model an act of kindness. Discuss symbiosis, a relationship in which both animals benefit.

Write an article about symbiosis between the Cape buffalo and the Oxbird. How do they both benefit? 

Personification means the animals take on characteristics of humans. What are some of the personifications in this story?