The "It's Too Crowded In Here" Story Teaches To Be Content And Grateful
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The "It's Too Crowded In Here" Story Teaches To Be Content And Grateful

Categories Be Content  , Folktales , Be Grateful 
Book Title: It's Too Crowded In Here

Author: Vicki L. Weber


Jewish Value: Be Content

Book Summary:

One of eight Jewish folktales included in the book by the same title, “It’s Too Crowded in Here,” includes engaging text and illustrations to relate a story, told in parable. It is the story of a man who believes his home is too crowded and a rabbi whose wisdom and advice helps the man ultimately value what he does have and discover what is most important in life.

Enduring Understandings:

  • People can choose their perspective and attitude.
  • Our perspective and attitude create our outlook on life, which greatly affects our experiences and emotions.
  • It can be better and simpler to change our perspective and attitude than our circumstances.

Essential Questions:

  1. We learn from Pirke Avot 4:3 that we should not underrate the importance of anything. What is the reasoning for not underrating the importance of anything? 
  2. Do you feel more content when you have a sense that all things have their place? 
  3. What makes you happy, and what are you grateful for? 
  4. How can you incorporate the value of same’ach b’chelko in your classroom? 

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

Same’ach b’chelko literally means “happy or content with one’s lot.” In other words, this Jewish value reminds us that we need to be content with what we have. This not only refers to our belongings, but also implies that we should not envy what belongs to others, live in the present moment, be happy with our own talents and accomplishments, and accept who we are. There is no limit to what we don t have, and if that is where we focus, then our lives are inevitably filled with endless dissatisfaction.

In essence, we need to be grateful for what we have and who we are. Therefore, same’ach b’chelko is closely connected to another Jewish value, hakarat hatov, gratitude. When we are content with and grateful for what we have, we don’t feel threatened by the success and good fortune of others. We can celebrate what they have by appreciating what is our own. How we feel about ourselves can have an impact on our attitude toward others. As we give thanks, our practice needs to be to recognize and honor what we have received and to be grateful for its sufficiency.

Our own contentedness, then, truly is reflective on our perspective on life: the why and how, the meaning and purpose of our existence in the world. The rabbis of the Talmud teach that we should give thanks for the ability to give thanks. The very first words we are to speak in the morning are Modeh Ani—I am grateful to You. Beginning the day with thanks, our eyes are attuned to blessing and our spirit renewed.

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Materials and resourcesmore


Copy of It Could Always Be Worse
Copy of It’s Too Crowded In Here

Sharing The Storymore

Introducing The story

Involve students in a discussion of the title and the picture on the cover.

  • What do they think the story will be about? Document their answers.
  • Explain that in the story, a man goes to his rabbi for advice. He thinks his house is too small, The Rabbi is very wise and tells him to bring various animals into his home.
  • Discuss the Rabbi’s plan and ask, “Can you imagine a reason the rabbi would suggest that in order to solve the problem of a crowded house, he should add more creatures inside of it?

Reading The Story

Read this story aloud and discuss the following, allowing time for students to ask their own questions and share their reflections: What was the farmer’s problem?

  • What did the rabbi tell the man to do?
  • What did you think about this suggestion?
  • What questions would you want to ask the rabbi about his suggestions?
  • What would you have told the farmer to do to solve his problem?
  • At the end of the story, did the farmer’s life change from the way it was at the very beginning? If not, then why was he more satisfied or appreciative at the end? What did the story say that makes you think this?
  • Would you describe the farmer at the end of the book as being content with his life and grateful for what he has?- Explain.
  • What did you learn from this story?

After The Story

Create a Readers Theater based on the story. Learn how here: EC Reader s Theater or: Reader s Theater Elementary

Students can create masks for the various characters and animals. The “audience” can help with the sound effects for the different animals

Story Share and Compare:

It Could Always Be Worse
Share Margot Zemach’s award-winning book It Could Always Be Worse, a retelling of the same folktale highlighted in the activity above.
Discuss the following:

  • Compare this story with the version you read earlier. How are they alike and how are they different? How did the pictures help “tell” the story?
  • Which title did you like better, It Could Always Be Worse, or It’s Too Crowded In Here? Explain.
  • If you were to give either of these two stories a title, what would it be?
  • Which story did you enjoy more? Why?


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Story Share: The Cracked Jewel
Share with students the story of “The Cracked Jewel,” which highlights the importance of perspective. Encourage students to find ways to re-frame challenges faced in their lives to help them find happiness.Jordan Hill StoryTeller share "The Cracked Jewel" on YouTubeExplain to students that this is sometimes referred to as “finding the silver lining,” referring to seemingly troublesome situations from which something positive can be gleaned.

Is the glass “half full” or “half empty?”
Show students two identical glasses of water, filled with equal amounts of water.
How would they describe how much water is in each? What makes them feel better, having a glass that is half filled with water or a glass that is half empty?
Expand this discussion to other ways of looking at a situation, asking students to think about multiple ways to view situations that they might encounter:
There are 15 minutes left before dismissal and the children are engaged in their favorite activity (e.g., “There are still 15 minutes left to play!” versus, “We only have 15 minutes left to play.”)
The schedule will be interrupted because of ___________ (weather, a fire drill, a holiday program, etc.) . Your friend has a pet ___ (dog, cat, goat, snake, parrot, etc.. You already have a pet hamster and a goldfish, but you have always wanted a _____ just like this one.

Can students think of other situations that can be viewed in different ways, one in which they are content (satisfied with or appreciative for what they have), and another in which they want more?
Discuss: “Is it better to look at what we have in life instead of what we don’t have?” Why or why not?

Music Connectionsmore

List of All Songs

“It’s All Good”  by Robbi Sherwin with Sababa

Inspiration Text

Psalm 136:1; Genesis 1:31


To "zipper" the song:
Sing: We thank you God for: and get 5 suggestions (Mommy! My baby brother! My Ipod! My puppy! Bubbe) and you can weave them into the song: We thank you God for the moms we love, the babies we hug, the Ipods we hear. We thank you God for the puppies that lick and the Bubbes that love us all so dear. It s all good.... - See more at:


It’s all good, it’s all good
G-d made it and it’s all good

We thank you, G-d, for the gifts you bring
For the food we eat, for the songs we sing
We thank you, G-d, for the earth & sky
For our family’s love as the days go by


We thank you G-d, for the night and day
For the gift of Torah that shows us the way
We thank you, G-d, for our Sabbath rest
For You are One, and we are blessed!


Hodu L’adonai, L’adonai ki tov
V’yahr Elohim et kol asher asah
V’hiney tov m’od

(Give thanks to God, for God is good! G-d saw everything that She had created and it was good.)

Evidence of Learningmore

  • Students participate appropriately in discussion during story share and compare. 
  • During the concluding activity, students are able to re-frame situations suggested.


literature connectionsmore

TitleAuthorIllustratorBook Summary
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes Eric LitwinJames DeanPete the Cat goes walking down the street wearing his brand-new white shoes. Along the way, his shoes change from white to red to blue to brown to WET, as he steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries, and other big messes! But no matter what color his shoes are are, Pete keeps movin' and groovin' and singing his song … because it's all good!
Let The Whole Earth Sing Praise Tomie dePaola Inspired by biblical scripture and the folk art of theO tomi people of Puebla, Mexico, this small picture book praises the goodness and beauty of G-d’s creation. Through song-like verse and a tropical-hues collage, it extols the joy to be found everywhere you look—from land, sea, and sky to all of humanity
Ferdinand The Bull Munro LeafRobert LawsonFerdinand is the world's most peaceful--and--beloved little bull. While all of the other bulls snort, leap, and butt their heads, Ferdinand is content to just sit and smell the flowers under his favorite cork tree. Leaf's simple storytelling paired with Lawson's pen-and-ink drawings make The Story of Ferdinand a true classic.
A Bad Case Of The Stripes David ShannonDavid ShannonCamilla Cream loves lima beans, but she never eats them. Why? Because the other kids in her school don't like them. And Camilla Cream is very, very worried about what other people think of her. In fact, she's so worried that she's about to break out in...a bad case of stripes!
* PJ library Books