Taking Risks as Far as Possible: A Review of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord.” –Colossians 3:20

Reading Level:

Grades K-1

Review and Comments:

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter, is a classic tale that is ready for a new generation. Peter, that scamp of a bunny, does not heed his mother’s warning about Mr. McGregor’s garden or her instructions to stay close to home.  He immediately goes to the garden and enjoys quite a feast on all the wonderful vegetables bunnies love to eat.  Mr. McGregor spots Peter eating his produce and immediately a pursuit begins. Mr. McGregor runs all over the garden trying to catch him, but Peter is able to escape each close encounter.  Peter is completely lost because of the chase and frantically tries to find a way out of the garden.  Finally, after much searching, he locates the gate and is free once again.  He does not stop running until he reaches the safety of his home and family. By the time he gets home his ordeal has taken its toll.  Peter is put to bed and misses out on the delicious dinner that his sisters are able to enjoy.

The interest level of Peter’s story has quite a wide range. It is a perfect read aloud story for young non- readers and yet independent readers in second grade will find it a great story also.  All children will enjoy inspecting the detailed illustrations by Potter because they add interest and comprehension to Peter’s escapade.

Possible Issues:

There may be some explanation required about Peter’s father’s demise. He was put in a pie by Mr. McGregor’s wife.

Further Discussion:

  • Read a poem by Beatrix Potter.

We have a little garden,
A garden of our own,
And every day we water there
The seeds that we have sown.

We love our little garden,
And tend it with such care,
You will not find a faced leaf
Or blighted blossom there.

  1. Read the poem as a group(s) or individually.
  2. Identify rhyming words. Make a new list of words that rhyme with the poem.
  3. Define faced and blighted.
  4. Illustrate the poem. (Use water colors in the style of Beatrix Potter.)
  • Vocabulary should be defined before reading the story to help children understand and appreciate the story. [ sand-bank, mischief, currants,  parsley,  thief,  gooseberry net, implore, exert, sieve,  presently,  puzzled,  hoe,  hoeing,  fortnight, camomile tea]
  1. Make a vocabulary poster to use as reference while reading the story. Divide the poster into fifteen equal sections. Print one vocabulary word and a simple, corresponding picture in each section.  Children may refer to it during independent reading.
  • There is a short and interesting biography of Beatrix Potter for parents at the end of the book.
  • Use puppets to retell the story or make bunny ears and act out the story.
  • Make a salad using the fresh garden ingredients Peter found in Mr. McGregor’s garden [carrots, radishes, cabbage, lettuce, onion, etc.]
  • Define taproot and fibrous Display pictures of vegetables with taproots [carrot, radish, parsnip, beet, turnip, parsley, and sweet potato] and fibrous roots [onions].
  • Draw a map of Mr. McGregor’s garden showing all the places Peter went.
  • Bunny Hopping
    Give children a variety of “hopping” commands such as:
    Hop in one place.
    Hop and turn in circles at same time.
    Hop on left/right foot.
    Hop backwards, sideways, make a square or circle.
    Hop over a line.
    Hop with a partner.
    Hop to different rhythms (clap hands, use drum, music, etc.)               –Take from Childfun.com
  • Respect Property Collage: “Help your child make a collage that shows boundaries between personal and public or other people’s property. On one half of the paper, have him/her cut out magazine pictures of items owned — perhaps toys he/she owns, clothing, a bike or books. On the other half of the paper,  cut out photos of other items that belong to other people. Possible pictures might be a scooter belonging to someone else, a cat, a fountain in the downtown square, the swings at the park and the library. As your child works on the collage, talk about showing respect for other people’s property by not touching it without permission or making sure he/ she uses it carefully so other people will be able to enjoy the property when he/she is finished with it.”     [Activities to Teach Children How to Respect Property by Kathryn Hatte]

Catholic Resources:

Peter’s story is perfect to use as an example when talking about the fourth and seventh commandments.

  • Memorize a verse. Colossians 3:20 “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”
  • Love-in-action poster: [For this activity, you will help your children make a poster that reminds your children to be obedient.]


  1. Write or paint the following header at the top of a large piece of poster paper: “To Love Means to Obey.”
  2. Choose one of these verses on obedience from John 14 and write it on your poster:
  • John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.”
  • John 14:21 “Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me.
  • John 14:23 “Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching.’ ”
  1. Paint your children’s feet with washable paint, and have them make footprints across the paper.
  2. Explain to your children that the footprints represent someone doing exactly as they are asked. Remind them that the Bible says that if they love God, they will obey His commandments. Explain that when they obey God or their parents, they are showing that they love them.
  3. Remind your children of one or two recent incidents where they obeyed you. Add one or two heart stickers (or draw heart shapes on the paper) to reward these examples of obedience.  Thank your children for obeying and showing you that they love you and God.  Let your children know that when they obey, they can add more hearts to the poster.
  4. Hang the poster in a prominent location as a reminder to be obedient.  Each time you add a heart to your poster, review the memory verse and remind your children that they show they love God when they obey Him and their parents.

[From “Kids of Integrity: Obedience”]

CCC 2197    The fourth commandment opens the second table of the Decalogue. It shows us the order of charity. God has willed that, after him, we should honor our parents to whom we owe life and who have handed on to us the knowledge of God. We are obliged to honor and respect all those whom God, for our good, has vested with his authority.

CCC 2200    Observing the fourth commandment brings its reward: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” Respecting this commandment provides, along with spiritual fruits, temporal fruits of peace and prosperity. Conversely, failure to observe it brings great harm to communities and to individuals.

CCC 2401    The seventh commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one’s neighbor and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods. It commands justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and the fruits of men’s labor. For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property. Christian life strives to order this world’s goods to God and to fraternal charity.

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