Chinese Proverb on Honesty

K, 1, 2

The book The Empty Pot by Demi tells a fable of a Chinese emporer who wants to find the most worthy to take his place. What does it mean to be a worthy community leader? 

PrintOne Thirty-Minute Session
  • articulate the importance of honesty in community
  • Copy of the book The Empty Pot by Demi 
  • Optional: Marigold seeds, small peat pots or paper cups, and potting soil
  • Demi. The Empty Pot. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1990.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the following questions and allow time for thinking deeply:

    • What can an empty pot hold?
    • When is it a good thing to be empty?
  2. Read aloud the book The Empty Pot, by Demi. Discuss the story as you read and look at the artwork and reflect on the depiction of characters.

  3. After reading, discuss what it must have felt like to to come with the empty pot. What did it say about Ping that he was able to go to the palace with his empty pot. This is a time an empty pot was a good thing. When else might coming empty handed be good for the community?

    Why did the emporer appreciate it that he brought the empty pot? What did it tell him about Ping? Why does that make him a good leader and model for the community?

  4. Discuss a situation we might face in which it will be hard to be honest. Is honesty always a good thing? When is it hard to be honest? When is it easy to be honest? When is it harmful to be honest?

    Think about the leaders in your lives. How important is trust and why?

  5. Science connection: Plant flower seeds and use scientific processes to grow them. Take notes and discuss how the plants are doing.

    • Chart the day that the seeds start to grow.
    • Measure the new plants and chart the size.
    • Transplant outside on school grounds.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.3 Discuss the importance of personal virtue, good character, and ethical behavior in a democracy.