Sima Guang Breaks the VatSima Guang Breaks The Vat

Illustrated By: Tristan Liu

Sima Guang was nine years old.  He liked to play in his backyard with his friends Wang Wei, Li Na, and Zhang Yong.

One day, the friends were playing in the yard.  Wang Wei said, “I bet I can go up to the top of the water vat!”  A water vat is a very big clay jar used to keep rain water.  

“Do not go to the top of the water vat!” said Li Na.  “It is too high.”


“Wang Wei said, “I bet I can go up to the top of the water vat!”


“It is not too high for me!” said Wang Wei.

“Come down here and play,” said Sima Guang.  

“I want to go up!” said Wang Wei.  When he was at the top he called, “Look at me – one foot!”


Sima Guang Breaks the Vat


“That is good!” said Zhang Yong.  

Then – oh, no!  Wang Wei fell down into the water vat!

“I cannot swim!” he called.  “The water is too deep!”

“We must run for help!” said Li Na.

“No!” said Sima Guang.  “That will take too long!”


“We must run for help! said Li Na.”


“Then we cannot do anything to help,” yelled Li Na in fear.  “Ahhh!” yelled Zhang Yong in fear, too.  “AHHH!” they yelled together.  

Sima Guang saw a rock.  He picked up the rock and threw it at the bottom of the water vat.  The vat did not crack.  He picked up the rock and threw it again.  There was a very small crack this time.  He threw it again. Then a bigger crack!  All at once, a very big wave of water flew out of the broken water vat.  


Sima Guang Breaks the Vat


And with the wave of water, out rolled Wang Wei!



What do you think this story is trying to show you? See what other kids say after the Comment Box:

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  1. This story is about Sima Guang, who reminds us to keep calm in an emergency. Sima Guang, as a child, saved a playmate who had fallen into an enormous vat full of water. Other children scattered in panic, while Sima Guang saved the other child by smashing a hole in the base of the pot to allow the water to flow out. His calm decisiveness won him considerable praise.

  2. This story teaches us to tell our children not to try something when they do not have enough information about it.

  3. It also appears from this story
    Where should they be aware of their children and know where the children are playing or any other things they have on their mothers and fathers and know where and where they are and a time when wangWi was in the water
    So this is very bad but happily his friends were able to save it and who threw a rock in the water and wang wi i on a short water and survived the trenches at a time when other friends were asking for help.

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A Classic Chinese Folktale, this story is based on a famous anecdote which relates how the young Sima Guang once saved a playmate who had fallen into an enormous vat full of water. As other children scattered in panic, Sima Guang calmly picked up a rock and smashed a hole in the base of the pot. Water leaked out, and his friend was saved from drowning.


Sima Guang (17 November 1019 – 11 October 1086), courtesy name Junshi, was a Chinese historian, writer, and politician. He was a high-ranking Song dynasty scholar-official and historian who authored the monumental history book Zizhi Tongjian.