If your grandmother reminded you on more than one occasion to “think before you speak,” she was passing on a pearl of wisdom. Many of us can recall the wise words our grandparents uttered as they tried to pass on life lessons to a younger generation. Rekindle memories of favorite sayings and proverbs as you engage your group in some activities on the theme of wisdom. You’ll find the truths still ring true today!

  • WISDOM: Ask participants to define the word wisdom. List some synonyms for the word wise. Ask: What are some traits of a wise person? Who is the wisest person you know? How does a person get wisdom? How would you complete the following phrase: Having wisdom means…?”
  • WISE CHOICES: Read the short children’s poem “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda” by Shel Silverstein and talk about how to help children avoid procrastination and make wise choices and decisions.
  • TIMELESS WISDOM: Share a story from Aesop’s Fables, like “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” and talk about how a youngster, a teen, and old man/woman might view the fable. Ask participants to name some of their favorite fables and the morals they teach.
  • HUMOR: Enjoy a few chuckles by sharing some of Ben Franklin’s best advice from Wit and Wisdom from Poor Richard’s Almanack. (Example: “Fish and visitors stink in three days.”)
  • IDIOMS: Talk about idioms or sayings related to being astute, intelligent, and wise: nobody’s fool, on the ball, sharp as a tack, crackerjack, no dummy, whiz, on your toes, fast on the draw, quick on the trigger, not born yesterday, know the score, get wise to, get the picture.
  • WISDOM WITH AGE: Debate the truth of the old adage “With age comes wisdom.” Ask: Does wisdom automatically come with age? How does a person get wiser as time passes? Do you consider yourself wise in years (from age and experience)? Name someone you know who is wise beyond his/her years.
  • KING SOLOMON: Read the story of Solomon’s asking for wisdom in I Kings 3 in the Bible. Talk about the characteristics of a wise and discerning leader. Sing the old hymn “Be Thou My Vision.”
  • GRANDPARENTS DAY: Celebrate National Grandparents Day on the second Sunday in September with this activity: Read Proverbs 6:20-23 to participants. Ask them what proverbs or sayings they used or heard in their own homes, especially those said by their mothers or grandmothers. Make a list of other proverbs or sayings that are commonly used by people.
  • OWLS: Discuss the meaning of “wise as an owl.” Why is the bird often used as a symbol of wisdom? Recite the old nursery rhyme “A Wise Old Owl,” and answer the question posed at end of the rhyme. Discover why the U.S. Army used the nursery rhyme on a poster in World War II.
  • CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: Ask participants to talk about the meaning of “conventional wisdom.” Poll the group to find out if they usually follow public opinion or make their own decisions. Give the group a real-life example: Challenge the conventional wisdom that every person needs to go to college to be successful. (Or use another example.)
  • CLASSIC TELEVISION: Watch some episodes of an old comedy favorite, The Three Stooges. Listen for the famous catchphrase – “Wise guy, eh?”
  • MENTORS: Talk about the importance of mentoring members of a younger generation – for example, the Millennial Generation, young people born after 1980. Ask: Have you ever been a mentor, advisor, or counselor to someone? Was the experience rewarding for you? What did you like about it? What advice would you give Millennials about using social media (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) wisely?
  • ADVICE: Ask the group: What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Who gave you the advice? Can you remember the worst? How do you distinguish between sound and unsound advice? Write some family topics on strips of paper and place them in a hat. (Examples: dating, money, marriage, first-time home buyer, parenting, etc.) Each participant can draw a topic from the hat and offer wise and useful advice for a younger audience.
  • LATE BLOOMERS: Talk about these famous people who were successful through their later years. Ask the participants who they were and what they did. Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, Grandma Moses, Ronald Reagan, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Schweitzer, Dwight Eisenhower, Louis Armstrong, Bob Hope, Duke Ellington. Ask the group if they know any late bloomers who discovered it’s never too late to try.


  1. What’s another name for the Wise Men in the Christmas nativity story? Magi
  2. Name the goddess of wisdom in Greek mythology. Athena
  3. Which king in the Old Testament is known for his wisdom and riches? Solomon
  4. What’s another name for a wisenheimer? Smart aleck; arrogant person
  5. Finish Ben Franklin’s saying: “Early to bed and early to rise….” Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise
  6. What does the idiom ‘penny-wise and pound-foolish’ mean? Economical with small amounts of money but extravagant with larger sums
  7. How many wisdom teeth do most people have? Four
  8. Which book of the Old Testament has a chapter of wisdom for each of the 31 days of the month? Proverbs
  9. Which ancient Greek philosopher is known for the saying: “Know Thyself”? Socrates
  10. Finish this proverb: “When the going gets tough,….” The tough get going.


“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” ~ William Shakespeare (in As You Like It)


“Pearls of Wisdom” was written by Sue Hansen. Copyright 2015 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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