Proverbs – What they mean to me

A Brief WebQuest

During, and as a result of, this WebQuest you will:

  • Phase 1 – Research
    • learn about proverbs, how they work, and their cultural significance.
    • learn the difference between proverbs and clichés.
    • share, study, and interpret proverbs. (post questions about specific proverbs if you like)
  • Phase 2 – Post to thread
    • find a proverb that rings true for you and explain its significance.

In order to be as informed as possible, you should like (this is a strong suggestion) to take a look at the following two documents (I’d print them if I were you): Proverb Definitions, and Common Proverbs.

Here we go . . .

Proverbs – Phase 1


First off, what are proverbs? Proverbs are brief adages that speak truths.

Traditional proverbs are meant to convey cultural knowledge and wisdom, and are often closely tied to a culture’s values and everyday experience. Sometimes their meanings are not always readily apparent to us today. Some common proverbs that speak truths are:

  • Out of the frying pan and into the fire!
  • A stitch in time saves nine!
  • Look before you leap!
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.







In The Book Without Words by Avi, Odo in particular is given to saying proverbs at appropriate, and sometimes very inappropriate, times. Alfric, too, offers the occasional well-timed proverb as he becomes more at home.

Some of the proverbs found in the book are:

  • “A fool is the first to think himself wise and the last to know it isn’t so.” -Odo (Ch 2:1)
  • “The lengthier the life, the more locked the lip.” -Odo (Ch 2:9)
  • “Death is part of life.” -Odo (Ch 3:11)
  • “Live long enough and all become orphans.” -Odo (Ch 3:11)
  • “. . . the shorter the sermon, the longer the truth.” -Alfric (Ch 3:11)
  • “. . . time is like an oxcart wheel – that it has no end or beginning but only rolls.” -Alfric (Ch 3:1 8)
  • “A sniff of gold makes all noses sneeze.” -Odo (Ch 3:1 8)
  • “A life unlived is like a book without words.” -Preamble

———————-What I must DO for this Quest———————-

Explore the richness of proverbs by visiting the following web resource sites. You do not need to visit all of them. You are looking for a proverb that you identify with, that you can say rings true for you. Go ahead look around. Do this now.

Web Resources – By clicking these links you will be leaving Mr. Moshé’s blog. Mr. Moshé can not be responsible for the content or functionality of websites outside of his domain. Whether he likes it or not, there are some things he can not control.

  • What Do You Think Ben Meant?

    • The Franklin Institute provides this list of A to Z proverbs from Benjamin Franklin.
  • Insects: Proverbs, Quotes, Sayings

    • Includes proverbs about insects collected from around the world. A good site for students to find proverbs.
  • Proverbs by Country of Origin

    • A large collection of proverbs from around the world. A good site for students to find proverbs, though the site contains some ads.
  • Proverbs from 300 Countries and Cultures

    • Collection of proverbs. Search from 12,000 proverbs from 300 countries and cultures or browse from over 1,500 from 100 countries and cultures. The site contains some advertisements.
  • CogWeb’s Proverb Resources

    • Proverbs from around the world and links to external collections. Includes links to proverb journals, articles, and reference materials. Good for both students and teachers.
  • Proverbs: More Than Words Say

    • Short Peace Corps collection of proverbs from around the world. Locations of origin and meaning/context provided. Provides suggestions for teaching with proverbs.
  • Proverbial Wisdom

    • A collection of 600+ proverbs from around the world, listed alphabetically.

Proverbs – Phase 2

Post to this thread

Use the Web resources listed above (and the novel The Book Without Words) to look for proverbs you like, proverbs that resonate with you. Find a proverb that means something for you.

Post to this thread about a time, an occasion, an event in which that proverb rang true.


=—-=—-=Educational Theory Justification=—-=—-=

Cruz and Duff (1996) argue that working with proverbs in the classroom can improve students’ learning experiences, their language skills, and their understanding of themselves and the world. This happens because:

  • Proverbs provide an opportunity for students to be knowledgeable experts as well as learners.
  • Proverbs provide an opportunity for students to learn about each other and their shared values.
  • Proverbs provide an opportunity for students to gain insight as they discuss their experiences and work out their understanding of proverb meanings.
  • Proverbs provide an opportunity for students to use their home culture as a stepping stone into school culture.
  • Proverbs provide an opportunity to improve thinking and writing as students both provide and receive information.

Cruz, Mary Carmen, and Ogle Burks Duff. 1996. “New Words, Old Wisdom.” English Journal 86 (November): 116–118.


This webQuest has been adapted from the Discussion Guide for The Book Without Words by Avi designed by Hyperion Books and the ReadWriteThink Lesson on Proverbs




Print Friendly, PDF & Email