This blog is about learning through stories

Look at the 2 contents pages (with links), top of screen, which list all story subjects and suitable age groups, or Click on ‘select category’ on right of screen to find what you need, scroll down to find a suitable story.   Or use key words in the search box (top right).

This blog works like a shuttlecock – I tap it over to you and ask  ‘do you need a story for something?’  You reply to me via the comments box to ask me for a story about – for example ‘resilience’, or ‘forgiveness’ and so on.  I need to know the age range of my audience.  

Here’s an example: someone said  “I need a story about being helpful, for six year old children.”          I will see what I can do! You ‘get the shuttlecock back’, with a story and even a picture, if you are lucky!  All for free.

Here’s my shuttlecock, coming your way!shuttlecock006

Bozo talks about throwing balls indoors. A story for little kids

Bozo practises his circus tricks

‘Hello I’m Bozo, I’m a Clown. You may have seen my happy face somewhere? I like to teach little kids things. I try to make it fun to learn. Can you catch a ball yet? I can. I can throw six balls up in the air all at once. Mind you it took me a few years to learn that. I just had to keep practicing. When I was good at catching one ball, I went on to catching two, then three and so on. I practice a lot. I used to try throwing a ball up over my head, and catching it again. Best to do that outside so you don’t knock the pictures off the walls .

Bozo pic 2007

 

One day I forgot and I threw my ball under my leg and up towards the ceiling. It hit the light and poof! all the lights went out. Oh dear!’

‘Stand still everyone, there is broken glass about!’, said Dad. He lit his torch and Mum swept up the mess.

‘What do we say about throwing the ball indoors?’ said Mum.

‘I must look where I throw it and throw it small, small throws, not like that. Oops sorry!’

‘Okay, now what else do you want to do? That ball’s going away for a while,’ said Dad.

‘Okay I’ll practice juggling my plates now…’

‘No, no throwing, no juggling, even if they are plastic plates. What else do you have to practice?’ said Dad.

‘How about my tin whistle?’

‘Now that’s a good idea, just  make sure you’re not annoying anyone with it.’

That was the trouble! Everyone hated hearing me playing the tin whistle!

‘Tell you what,’ said my sister, I will practice reading you a story instead, how about that?’  Well, I didn’t think she needed to practise reading, I thought she was good at it already, but I didn’t say ‘No’!

‘Okay, thanks. Then I’ll do some somersaults in the hall. ‘

Mum said I just had too much energy, and that it was a pity was raining.

‘Never mind we will all go out later with our wellies on, and you can splash in the puddles…’ she said.

Questions

When Bozo was a little boy he liked to practise doing things. Can you say what he practised?

What did he want to be when he grew up?

What rules did Bozo’s mum and dad have about playing with balls indoors?

What rules do you have about playing with balls?

What might happen if you just threw balls around indoors?

What happened when Bozo threw the ball at the ceiling?

Does this story remind you about anything that has happened to you or your family?

 

Should Emma ‘like’ him? A story for girls 11 to teenage about ‘sexting’

Should Emma ‘like’ him? A story for teenage girls about ‘sexting’

Emma's blue toe nails001

My tummy’s full of butterflies. I feel so excited, but I’m nervous too. There’s a boy who has been looking at me at break time. He’s got shiny black hair which he sweeps back over his head. I got a text on my phone and it’s from him.

‘I love your smile’ it says. He has signed it ML, that’s him, ML.

I text back ‘I love your hair.’

I keep checking my phone all day, nothing happens then just before last lesson it buzzes in my pocket. Mustn’t let the teachers see me looking at it, she will confiscate it. I pretend to look in my bag for a pencil. Yes! the message is from him! I decide to save it for later, on the bus where I can enjoy it in private.

Ellie my best friend has a boyfriend, well she says he’s her boyfriend but they never do anything together, they just sit and tease each other at lunchtimes. I’ve never had a boyfriend. I don’t think boys would fancy me. My brother says I’m ugly and fat. My mum tells him off if he says that, but he’s probably right. I’m what they call a big girl.

Anyway on the bus those butterflies are flapping around my insides again. I plonk down on the seat at the front upstairs. My phone lies in my hand. I look around, no one else is on the front seats. I check the message. It’s a photo of MML’s cheek with his hand touching it in a way that makes me shiver and feel excited. I don’t know how he took that pic. It’s not a selfie.

“Like me?” said the caption.

I don’t know what to say, of course I like him, he looks gorgeous, but why is he sending me this photo?

I text “Yes”, that’s all.

Every day he sends me a photo of himself, usually of his hands, often of his hair, sometimes of parts of his face. One day sends me a picture of his feet. They make me laugh, they are just as perfect as his hands. He doesn’t say anything except ‘Like it?’

Now I’m in my bedroom doing my homework and the phone pings. It’s ML. No photo but: ‘Send me a pic of you’.

I take one of my right foot, my toes have blue nail varnish and I think he might like that.

Emma's blue toe nails001

He replies “Higher”. My stomach lurches, what does he want? I take a pic of my hand. “ Better”, he says.

He doesn’t stare at me in school any more. In fact he seems to disappear into the distance whenever I catch sight of him. It’s strange.

In my bedroom, ping goes the phone again. It’s a picture of ML’s knees. He is wearing blue jeans.   His hand is draped across his knees as if he is stroking them.

‘Yours?’ is the message.

Butterflies again. Why does he want to see my knees? I take off my black school trousers and put on my tights. My legs look better with tights on. I take a picture on my knees with my hand on one of them just like his hand, sort of stroking my knee. I feel a bit funny doing it, like it was a bit risky, but I do it anyway.

I’m waiting for a reply. Nothing happens. In school the next day, there is ML in a little crowd with my brother, all looking my way, laughing and pointing at me. My brother looks embarrassed and angry.

I feel terrible. I’ve been so stupid to trust that boy with my photos, that boy who never even speaks to me. I have a horrible day.

My brother comes home and flings his rucksack on the floor. He gives me such a filthy look I burst into tears. Mum and dad are at work and I feel so stupid and hurt.

My brother’s face softens he comes over and puts his hand on my arm. He is two years older than me and I care about what he thinks.

‘Is that the worst photo you sent to ML? The one of your knees?’

‘What do you mean the worst? He’s got photos of my hands and my hair.’

‘That’s not so bad then, but don’t send in any more will you Emma? I know he looks like a rock star , but he’s just a filthy toad . He’s been getting girls to send pictures of their breasts, and naked pictures to him, then he is blackmailing them.

I feel the blood drain from my face. I sort of know what he means, but I still need to ask. My bother explains.

‘Well, he says that they have to meet him and do what he says, or he will put their photos on Facebook. Then he brags about what he has done to them to all his mates.’

My mind races ahead. My mum and dad might find out what I’ve been doing, and the teachers at school, and my friends. Oh dear, I’m crying now. How could I have been so trusting… so stupid??

‘ Look Emms, I’m sorry I’ve been rude to you saying you’re fat and ugly, you are not, and a lot of my friends fancy you. But I’m protecting you from them, because some of them just aren’t very nice to girls.’

“Oh, thanks a lot you, try make me feel bad about myself, so that I don’t notice that your so called friends like me! And ML is one of your friends?”

‘No he’s the worst, but some of my friends like him, they say he’s a laugh. Anyway tell me you won’t give embarrassing photos to anyone ever again, and then I won’t have to worry about you, and I’m sorry I was unkind to you, I didn’t think!’

‘And what about my knees?’

‘ Don’t worry, ML will be up in front of the headmaster before you know it. I’m going to report him. What he’s doing is illegal, he’ll get a warning from the law tomorrow, you’ll see.’

 

Questions

Does this remind you of anything in your life? 

Once you give your photo to anyone else, is it private? 

What is the worst thing that could happen?

Have you been tempted to be unwise in this way? Did you make the right decision?

‘Washing hands every day and when to do it’ A poem for little kids from Dr McPuffin

Dr McPuffin

Dr McPuffin

Dr Mc Puffin teaches little kids about when to wash their hands.

Dr. Mc Puffin was puzzled. He scratched his head with his foot. He is a bird, and that’s what they do. He was wondering how you should help children to learn about handwashing. It seemed to him that some children don’t really know when to wash their hands. They might wash them too much, or they might wash them too little.

‘I know I’ll make up a poem,’ he said.

It’s called ‘Washing hands every day and when to do it.’

If you make mud pies

wash your hands.

If you go to the loo

and you do a pee or poo,

then you know just what to do,

wash your hands!

 

If you want to eat some food

washing hands is good,

before you eat and after, if you’re sticky,

greasy, crummy,

just have a word with Mummy,

and you do know what she’ll say,

‘Wash your hands!’

 

If you think that they are dirty ‘cos you

stroked your dog called Bertie,

and he dribbled on your shirty,

or you have been touching slimy grimy,

or had your finger up your nose,

don’t wipe it on your clothes!

Wash your hands.

 

But if you wash them just for fun,

and let the water run and run,

then I might just to tell your mum

and she’ll say ‘Wasting soap and water

isn’t something that you ought to do.

So stop it!

Dr McPuffin

Dr McPuffin

Do you think Dr McPuffin remembered all the times when we need to wash our hands? Can you think of any other times that you need to wash your hands?

Getting on and Falling Out . A story about non-violence for primary school children 9 – 11 years old

Boys arguing blog pic

Some useful guidelines for peace and harmony.

Yoga Stories

THE RULES

My father went to England to earn more money. He left us behind – Wazek, my brother who is twelve and me, Tadjo. Our mum works in a factory in Warsaw. We live in a flat on the outskirts of the city. Dad said that if all goes well maybe we can visit him in England. He shares a house with several other Polish people. He sends half of what he earns back home to us. It is good to have more money, but it is not good to have no dad at home. I miss him a lot. So does my mum. Sometimes she cries at night. She thinks we don’t hear, but we do. It’s usually when we’ve been arguing. She used to say, ‘Just wait until your dad gets home’. She doesn’t say it any more. She just tells us to stop arguing and then…

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Sharon and the Chat Room for kids of 10 to teenage

Sharon and the Chat Room

Sharon's Avatar

Rain streamed down the window pane; Sharon was bored, she didn’t feel like reading a book and had no fresh ideas to add to her sketch pad. She couldn’t be bothered to practice on the piano.  She glanced round her bedroom looking for ideas, picking up her iphone she scrolled down through the apps.

Sharon wondered if any of her friends were online. None of them were.

She lazily clicked and scrolled until she found some signs of activity. It was a chat room. Some of the people in school had mentioned chat rooms, but until that moment she hadn’t bothered to look at them. She had thought that there was no point in talking to strangers she would never see and who might be across the other side of the world.

However today was different. She was curious. The subject of the chat looked interesting to her. She thought she might learn a little bit more about a game that she enjoyed playing on her phone. There seemed to be about five people in the chat room. Some of them actually displayed their photographs, and others had avatars. These avatars and looked very glamorous. The photos did not. She thought she would watch the conversation. She didn’t have to join in, but to watch she had to make her presence known. She had an avatar, it was a cartoon picture of a young woman who looked at least five years older than she was, and who had beautiful long blonde hair, large breasts and a very tiny waist. Her avatar’s name was Gudrun.

The other people on chat room were all boys, she could see from the photographs that they were about her age or maybe younger. The things that they were saying were very boring, but every so often somebody made a joke or insulted someone else and there was a bit of banter. The language used was not very pleasant. It was a bit like a playground conversation between boys who were trying to prove how grown-up they were, by swearing and making rude suggestions about their body parts. She soon got bored. What was the point of it? What a waste of time! It had nothing whatever to do with the game in the chat room name.

Sharon turned to her sketch pad. She thought she would redesign her avatar. She gave Gudrun a hair cut – very short and spikey. She changed her clothes to black leather and chains. She still had large breasts and a tiny waist. She could easily find all these aspects of appearance online. Soon she had a bold looking young woman staring at her from the screen.

Sharon's Avatar

Yes! That might raise some interest! Sharon went back to the chat room. Some of the young boys had dropped out and there were two new people in it. She wondered if she’d be brave enough to join in the conversation which seemed to be about game tactics this time. As soon as she made herself known, one of the new people was addressing her.

‘Well, hello, Gudrun, have you come to play?’

Sharon suddenly felt very hot, and nervous. Should she reply? Well, surely it wouldn’t do any harm?

‘Yes, I want to learn some new moves’, she typed.

‘Oh, I could teach you a few of them,’ another person typed.

“Get lost dude, I saw her first,’ typed the first person, who from their avatar appeared to be a cool redheaded girl.

‘Go and f*** yourself!’  said the second person whose avatar looked like a sweet young blond girl with long eyelashes.

Sharon switched off her phone. She was disgusted. At that moment her elder sister came into her room.

‘What’s the matter Shaz? You’re looking a bit off!’

‘Yes, I am! I was just looking at ‘MindKraft’ to learn some new moves and I went in a chat room. It was full of creeps!’

‘That’s the trouble with chat rooms, they usually attract stupid people who just want to talk about sex. They are sick! A girl in my class thought she had met a really nice guy on a chat room. He had a brilliant avatar, she said. She arranged to meet him at the shopping mall in town. He turned out to be fat and spotty and about 25 years old. He got really cross when she said she wasn’t interested. He tried to grab her but she was faster than him and she hid in Next until he disappeared.’

‘Why did she think he was so nice in the first place?’

‘She showed me all the things he said to her online. She saved them onto her laptop, see. He sounded really interesting and funny. And he really buttered her up!’

‘What do you mean, buttered her up? I don’t know what you are saying!’

‘Well, it’s what they do, isn’t it, to make a girl feel good. He flattered her. He said things like her avatar had beautiful hair, and then he said he thought her real hair would be even better. Then he said her eyes were gorgeous, and he knew that her own eyes would be just as lovely. He asked her for a photograph, and she sent him one!! Stupid girl. Then he really went to town. He praised every bit of her, from her clothes to her figure and face. He even liked her shoes!! It’s called grooming, you know, lying to make someone feel good and to trust you.’

‘And she believed him?’

‘Well, yes, she wanted to, you see. She was feeling lonely and thought that having a boyfriend might solve everything.’

‘She was lucky in a way. She escaped, some girls are not so lucky. It was on TV the other day. Lonely girls getting kidnapped by men who pretend to be really nice at first, then the girls can’t get away from them. Ugh, let’s not think about it!’

‘I think I’ll stick to people I really know in real life now. I won’t bother with chat rooms.’

‘Yes, that’s right Shaz. They are usually a really lower class of people who use them – people who love to swear and talk about their private parts, who wants to know about that? And as I said, some of them are really nasty and dangerous.’

Questions:

Did this story remind you of anything in your life?

What advice would you give to anyone who keeps going on chat rooms?

Why do some men ‘groom’ girls?

What might the danger signs of untrustworthy people be?

What are the real dangers of chat rooms do you think?

 

Discuss this with an adult that you know and trust, who knows about online activity and its dangers. The following information came from a website of the parents of Breck who was groomed on an online games chat room and murdered.www.breckfoundation.org

Beware

Opening files, accepting emails, IM messages, pictures or texts from people you don’t know or trust can lead to problems  – they may contain viruses or nasty messages

Report

Tell your parent, or trusted adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if you or someone you know is being bullied

Educate

Someone online might lie about who they are and information on the internet may not be true. Always check information with other websites, books or someone who knows. If you like chatting online it’s best to only chat to your real friends and family

Communicate

Meeting someone you have only been in contact with online can be dangerous. Only do so with your parents or carers permission and even then only when they can be present. Remember online friends are still strangers even if you have been talking to them for a long time

Keep Safe

Keep safe by being careful not to give your personal information when you are chatting or posting online. Personal information includes your email address, phone number, password, location

Mummy goes to hospital and Chloe is upset. A helpful short story for little children

A Story for Chloe

 One day Chloe’s mummy had to go to hospital to get her sore leg fixed. Chloe was upset when Mummy waved goodbye.

Chloe’s daddy said, ‘Don’t worry, Dr McPuffin will look after Mummy.’

‘Who is Dr McPuffin?’ Chloe asked.

‘He is one of the best doctors in the world. He works at hospital where Mummy will be. He’s very good at making people better.’

Daddy showed Chloe a picture of Dr. McPuffin.

Puffin water colour004

 

‘Oh, I didn’t think doctors looked like that. He’s a bird isn’t he?’

‘Yes he’s a very special bird who makes people laugh and feel happy. The nurses giggle when he comes in!’

‘He flies in and sits on the windowsill and does a happy dance – up and down and round and round he goes. He always wears a stethoscope around his neck like all doctors do.’

‘He carries a copy of the newspaper under his wing and tells the patients something funny about the news that day.’

‘When he sees that everyone in the room is happy and smiling, off he goes.’

‘Goodbye Dr McPuffin, and thank you!’ they all say.

‘Why does he come into hospital and do that?’ asked Chloe.

‘People get better soon if they are happy and smiling ,’ said Daddy. ‘Shall we think of something we can do for Mummy when she comes home tomorrow?’

‘I could thread some of those pretty beads for her couldn’t I?’ said Chloe.

‘And I’ll get her some nice flowers,’ said Daddy.

Chloe clapped her hands.’ Oh yes,  Mummy loves flowers. We will make her smile won’t we Daddy? And we’ll be helpful so she gets better soon.’

Questions

Who was going to hospital?

Why was Chloe upset?

Daddy told Chloe about Dr McPuffin – what was he? 

What did Dr McPuffin do to make everyone happy?

Have you ever seen a Puffin on TV? Where do they live?

What did Chloe say she could do to make Mummy smile?

What did Daddy say he would do?

Who would be very helpful at home when Mummy came back from hospital?

Does this story remind you of anything in your life?

Empathy in Ireland: ‘Todd does the right thing’ A story for children of 10 to 13 years.

Empathy in Ireland

Todd does the Right Thing

Forget about 'sides', someone needs help!

Forget about ‘sides’, someone needs help!

This story is set in Ireland. It comes from a town that has known unrest and internal battles over many years. It could equally be set in many places around the world where neighbours struggle for power.

The warring factions could always find excuses reaching back into history as to why they should hate each other. Gradually over time and with the determined wisdom of some politicians from both sides they finally made peace.

Barricades were taken down. It became easy to travel from the street to that street without worrying whether a bottle or worse would be thrown at you.

The schoolchildren found that they could play football matches against people who might in the past have come from the opposite side.

Now it didn’t seem to matter any more. Now they enjoyed their freedom to come and go, to mix and talk with whom ever they wanted.

The wiser ones decided it would be better not to ask a person if they were green or orange, if they were from the North or the South if they were Catholic or Protestant. Better not to know, those were only labels. People discovered that without labels they could just be friends.

After a soccer match one Sunday, Todd and his elder brother Leon were wandering home feeling good. Their team had won. They weren’t paying much attention to the road. Suddenly two cars came screaming towards them. One took a sharp right turn and disappeared up a side street and the other rammed into a lamp post. The boys were shocked, but ran towards the stricken car.

irish boys save the day

A youth was slumped over the steering wheel and a young child of no more than four years old was screaming in the back seat. The boys noticed that the car had harsh threatening slogans on the back window. The words used were the kind their mother told them never to use.

‘People who say that are no better than scum.’ she had said.

The street was deserted. It was a shopping area but everything was locked and shuttered, it being a Sunday afternoon.

‘ We’ve got to do something quick,’ said the older lad, ‘that kid might be strangled by his safety belt and the other needs hospital! You stay here and I’ll run and get help. Stop any passing cars and tell them what’s happened.’

The engine in the wrecked car had cut out so the was no chance of an explosion. Leon raced off leaving Todd to watch and wait. Todd tested the back door of the car. The child stopped screaming, he just sat looking terrified and dazed.

‘Are you hurting?’ asked Todd. The kid shook his head. ‘Is that safety belt cutting you?’

The child seemed puzzled. He looked down and pulled at the belt. It seemed loose enough. Todd looked over at the driver. Nothing he could do to help him. He was unconscious and Todd knew not to move a person if their bones might be broken. The child began to cry again, this time it was a frightened whimpering.

Todd came back to the child. ‘Take my hand,’ he said, ‘I promise you I’ll stay until help comes.’ The child grasped his hand and nodded. Todd could feel his own heart beating loudly in his chest, but he stayed put although he really wanted to run away and hide himself.

After what seemed like a long time the sound of a police siren cut through the air. Leon was sitting in the back of the police car with a policewoman. Two male officers leapt out of the front and ran to the battered car. An ambulance siren wailed in the distance.

‘You’ve done a great job there, Todd, is it? Good lad. Little ‘un must have been in a state when you got to him.’

Todd managed a half smile and anxiously looked over at the slumped figure in the front of the car.

‘Don’t worry about his brother, he still breathing. We’ll have him in the ambulance in two ticks. How about keeping the little fellow company while we take you to the police station for a statement? He seems to like you.’

They lifted the child from the car. He looked terrified.

‘Dont you fret Sonny, Todd will stay with you until we get your mam or dad to take you home. Is that all right with you Todd?’

‘Yes, yes, of course,’ said Todd, wondering what his own mother would think of her son for helping someone who was so obviously not on the same side as his mother had been all her life.

‘I will have to let my mam and dad know where I am,’ he said.

‘All done,’ said the policeman. ‘Your brother phoned them and they will be at the station waiting for you. As for the little lad here, we haven’t got a contact number to him yet. We have to go through his brother’s papers to get that.’

‘Oh I’ll wait with him, no problem,’ said Todd, looking down at the child clinging to his legs, ‘whatever my mam says!’

Todd’s parents were at the police station when the police car pulled up in the yard. His mother rushed over to him and hugged him.

‘I hear you’ve been a real hero today, Todd,’ she said. ‘ we’re really proud of you! So this is the little ‘un you’ve been looking after! I didn’t know my two boys could be so brave and clever. Well done! We’ll all wait until his mammy comes for him, then you can tell us all about it on the way home.’

Todd told his parents about the horrible sign in the back of the car and that he knew they must be from the ‘other side’, ‘But,’ he said ‘if I’d been in that car I wouldn’t have cared who saved me, I would just need to be saved!’

‘Quite right, Todd,’ said his dad, ‘We’re all the same under the skin; we’re just people who need to be saved every so often.’

A tear fell from his mother’s eyes as she realised the importance of what her youngest son had said and she felt ashamed of herself.  She asked herself if she really would have walked away if she had been the one to find the car crashed into the lamp post.

Questions 

  • Does the story remind you of anything in your life?
  • What happened as the boys were walking back home from the football match?
  • What did they notice about the car which had crashed into the lamppost?
  • How did they feel when they saw the crash?
  • What did Leon do?
  • What did Todd do?
  • How did he told make the young child feel calmer?
  • Why was Todd concerned about what his mother would think of the fact that he had helped the lads in the car.
  • How did Todd feel about the situation? What did he feel like doing?
  • Why do you think he stayed to keep an eye on the two in the car? 
  • How did his mother react when she saw him, was she happy or annoyed, or something else? 
  • What did his father think about people in general?
  • What would you do in such a situation? Why?

The Upside-down Cake, A story about kindness and empathy for children of 5 to 8 years

The Upside Down Cake

Upside-down cake painted

My name is Mark. I went to a small village school when I was a boy of your age. There were only 50 children in the whole school. Classes were small. We had the infants’ class, the middle-class and the top-class.

My teacher was called Miss Tweedy. She was very kind. She  noticed that every child was different. Some were  shy and quiet and some were loud and confident and there were others in between. Miss Tweedy used to joke about herself and make us laugh when she made a mistake. Sometimes I thought she made mistakes on purpose just to make us feel better about ourselves when we messed something up.

One day she came to school with an upside-down cake to share with the class who were the ‘winners of the month’. Every month one class was the winner. I did notice that we seemed to take it in turns to be the winner. It was called the ‘good behaviour prize’, and every month a different class won it, and shared out the cake between them. Sometimes it was chocolate cake and sometimes lemon cake. I used to like the cherry cake so if our class won I would always ask if we could have cherry cake for our prize.

‘Now let’s see, Mark, we could have a cherry cake, but only if everyone agrees. We could have some suggestions first and then count how many hands go up for each cake.’

We always voted like that and sometimes I was lucky, but not always. I didn’t mind because I like chocolate cake and lemon cake too.

I was telling you about the upside-down cake wasn’t I? Well, my class won the best behaviour prize, but we forgot to vote for what kind of cake to have. Miss Tweedy just got on and made one anyway.

She asked the class if they had ever heard of upside-down cake. One of the girls put her hand up and said her grandma made it sometimes.

‘Ah,’ said Miss Tweedy, ‘then I must tell you about my silly mistake. I thought I might get away without letting you know about it, but as Sarah knows what upside-down cake should be like, I can’t pretend can I?’

Miss Tweedy took the lid off the tin and showed us the cake.

 

Cherry cake 2Upside-down cake painted

I jumped up and down and clapped my hands.  Cherries were gathered at the top of the cake, so many that there was hardly any yellow cake to be seen! Everyone giggled and shouted, they all liked cherry cake too.

‘Can you guess what happened?’ asked Miss Tweedy looking embarrassed, hanging her head and sucking her finger; I thought she was play acting but Sarah went up to Miss Tweedy and patted her arm.

‘It’s all right Miss Tweedy,’ she said,’ don’t worry, we all make mistakes. I’m sure we will want to eat it even if all the cherries sank to the bottom and you turned it upside down.’

‘Yes that’s right Miss,’ we all chimed in, ‘don’t worry Miss, we’ll eat it!’

Delighted, we all sat round and had a piece of upside-down cherry cake. I turned mine the right way up to make sure it tasted as good as it usually did.

Later on that day Timmy, one of the youngest in the class was writing some of his letters upside down. He was a shy, quiet boy and when Miss Tweedy showed him how to change them round he hung his head and sucked his finger and tears started to fall on his work.

‘Never mind Timmy, your letter is a bit like my upside-down cake isn’t it? It’s the right shape, it’s just upside down. All we have to do is turn it over, look. We all make mistakes sometimes. It’s how we learn isn’t it? We do it wrong until we learn to do it right!’

Timmy smiled and we all smiled, thinking about the taste of the delicious cherry cake and of how kind Miss Tweedy was.

Questions  Answers in blue

  • Does this story remind you of anything in your life?
  • What did Mark think of his teacher, Miss Tweedy?   He thought she was very kind
  • Why did one class get a cake each month?  They got it for behaving well – the best behaviour prize
  • What sort of cake did Mark like best?  Mark liked Cherry cake best
  • Why did Miss Tweedy turn her cake upside down? The cherries all sank to the bottom of the cake, so it looked prettier upside down. 
  • How did Miss Tweedy show that she was upset about her cherry cake? She hung her head and put her finger in her mouth.
  • What did Sarah do to stop MissTweedy feeling upset?  She patted her arm and told her not to worry…
  • When little Timmy wrote his letters upside down, how did he feel about it? He was upset as he had made a mistake.
  • What did Miss Tweedy say to make him feel better? She told him that we learn by making mistakes, and it’s OK to make mistakes.

 

Frank is autistic. He loves puppies, but hates ‘Whitey’ the different pup.

Hello I’m Frank. They say I’m autistic. I don’t know about that, I just know I’m not like other people and most of them do not understand me. There are a few kind people around who try to help, but mostly people move away from me. I think they don’t know what I’m going to do next. Sometimes I just have to shout and scream. The noise it starts deep inside me and then I just need to let it out and when I do I feel better for a while.

Sometimes I want to bang my head on the wall to try to feel better. I don’t like doing that but the pain helps me to forget my feelings.

The best thing I do is when I go and help to look after the dogs and puppies at a place near where I live. I like animals. Dogs, horses, even cows, but cows aren’t friendly so I don’t like them much.

When I go to see the puppies there is one that I don’t like. It looks different from the rest. My favourite puppy is black and brown. The puppy I hate is black and white. I think it is ugly, I wish it wasn’t there. I push it away if it comes near me and I like to make it frightened of me. My carer said that I must not be unkind to it. It is a dog that needs to be loved and cared for just like all the other dogs. She says I shouldn’t hate it.

Every week one of the other puppies disappears. They said it found a new home. After several weeks the only puppy left is the one with white on it. I have no puppies to play with.

I didn’t want to play with Whitey, but it wants to play with me. The owner said that she is keeping it because it is so pretty. I thought she thought it was ugly like I did. It was different, see?

People who are different get called bad names sometimes, like I do. So I called that puppy bad names, and it made me feel strong, calling it names, like I am the boss, and I don’t want it near me, so I keep it away from me.

But now it’s the only puppy left and it still wants to play with me. I feel lonely without all the other puppies. I wonder if it will play ball with me. I throw the ball and it brings the ball back to me. It’s wagging its tail. Perhaps it doesn’t care that I’m different. I stroke it and say ‘I’m sorry I was unkind to you.’ It licks me and I know it loves me. But if I shout at it or hit it , it will not love me, it will run away and I will lose my friend. I am not going to do that.

Black and white puppy

Questions

What is the thing that Frank likes to do best?

What kind of things could Frank do to help to look after the puppies?

Does he like all the puppies?

Why does he not like the black and white one?

What does he do to Whitey at first?

What does his carer say about Frank being unkind to the dog?

Why did the other puppies go away?

Why did Whitey stay?

What did Frank think the owner thought about Whitey?

What did Frank do to make himself feel like the boss?

How did the puppy show that it liked Frank?

What did Frank do to make friends with Whitey?

Who was happy at the end of the story?

A story about avoiding horror films for 10 years to teens, Special Needs and Parents

 

Voices On Her Shoulders

Voices on her shoulders 2

“The stars are dark on this moonless night. Although plenty of glass litters the room, no moonlight exists to glint off it. This place is as lifeless as my soul.”

Mary read the quote for the third time, or perhaps the fourth.

She had never experienced depression and this quote seemed to be a taste of what it might be like. Her homework, to develop the idea in the quote, created a streak of rebellion. She looked back at her childhood. Her father would always march out of the room and do something else if a play or drama was about to be broadcast.

‘I don’t want to hear about other people’s terrible lives,’ he said. ‘I want to be entertained. I would watch Tommy Cooper doing his magic tricks, but not this rubbish!’

In disgust he would depart. Mary tended to agree with her dad. What was the point of watching or reading about something that might give her nightmares? She preferred a light touch too. Certainly she wanted to be aware of the dark side of life, but not to be entertained by it. There are shades of black that she had no intention of ever exploring. Depravity and depression, disgust and decay, disillusionment and darkness, they all seemed to begin with a D and she wanted none of them.

As she sat wondering what could be done with the quote, she became aware of two voices, one coming from each shoulder. There was a mean, harsh, nasty voice coming from the left side, and a soothing, serene voice on her right.

‘Call me Jock,’ said the mean one.

‘I suggest you don’t listen to him and you can call me Serena,’ said the other.

‘Is that what you want? A really boring life? No thrills or spills or ills?’ Jock interrupted, ‘I could show you a few things. How about what a corpse looks like after a month underground? I got great pictures. They are all in your mind already, see? You just have to flick through the catalogue.’

Mary shuddered. Why would she want to see such things? At that moment the picture of the cool clear mountain cascade flashed through her inner screen.

‘Thanks, Serena,’ she said out loud.

‘Och away wi ye Miss Perfect Paws !’ growled Jock.

Mary glanced to her right and saw to her surprise a contented looking feline washing her feet with great delicacy.

Horror stories colour

‘Serena?’ she queried. The cat merely turned her attention to cleaning her ears.

‘How about a nice bit of blood and gore?’ asked Jock, ‘ A real life RTA?’ *

‘Go away!’ said Mary, ‘I don’t like your hideous pictures. How could they possibly improve my life? I like to sleep peacefully at night.’

The glimmerings of a blue flashing light, a body on the road and the sound of sirens started to impinge on Mary’s inner screen.

‘Get lost!’ she shouted out loud.

Stern faces looked at Mary over their copies of ‘The Times’.

She felt herself blush, ‘Oops, sorry. I got carried away with my book,’ she lied. She had completely lost track of her sense of place. She was in the public library reference section, where so many folk go to get a bit of peace or to do some writing or their homework.

She stood up and placed herself between two long rows of bookshelves. If the dialogue between the entities on her left and her right shoulders was to continue she had to give them some privacy. A sense of peace settled over her as she thumbed through a copy of ‘Gardeners World’. A snowfall of white plumb blossom seemed to engulf her.

‘Thanks, Serena!’ she whispered, giggling at her success. She had no desire to view a road traffic accident just for fun. What kind of fun would that be anyway?

She thought she heard the sound of splashing water. Puzzled, she looked about. It wasn’t raining outside and anyway there was a floor above her; she couldn’t be hearing rain. It became louder and the sensation of something like a shower curtain touched her face, she suddenly felt claustrophobic, then she saw the glint of metal, a blade piercing the curtain, a knife slicing downwards towards her.

‘Serena!’ she shouted out loud. Sounds of streaming shower water turned into a heavy, contented purr. The wet curtain morphed into the feel of warm fur, and the blade became a cats claw, gently withdrawing itself.

‘I’ve got to get out of here!’ she said to no one in particular. The librarian asked her if she was all right as she rushed past the desk.

‘Yes thanks, fine, just late for a lecture, sorry!’

Outside Mary recalled a scene from the one and only horror film she had ever watched; it had preyed on her mind for years.

‘Now I know who Alfred Hitchcock * was listening to,’ she said.

The cat purred. ‘You all have a choice, you know. You can choose beauty and truth or you can go for delusion, destruction and death.’

‘Those Ds again,’ thought Mary. ‘I agree Serena, I’m with you all the way, I’m not going to look at those D words, ever.’

As she walked along she pondered, ‘Hmm, delicious, delightful, delectable, desire, ‘oh well, some of the D s might be okay, but I will need to police them carefully or Jock will be back with his nasty pictures.’

‘You called?’ said a coarse Glaswegian voice.

‘No! Bu*ger off !’ shouted Mary.

She saw the very slightest twitch of a cat’s tail on her right shoulder and then there was peace.

* An RTA is a Road Traffic Accident

* Alfred Hitchcock made horror films, in one of which, ‘Psycho’, the shower scene was shown.

Questions to be added

Guidance:

My grandfather used to tell us stories about all sorts of things. Sometimes the stories were funny, sometimes a bit scary, but they never gave us bad dreams. They never made us afraid nor gave us fears. Grandad’s stories came from words from his mouth, but the pictures were the ones we found for ourselves. They formed from our imaginations and were as colourful and bright or as dim and hazy as our minds wanted them to be.

When it came to watching the television our parents were very careful about what we saw. They did not allow us to see scary, nasty or shocking programmes and I’m sure they were right.

When the mind sees pictures on the screen, it can be badly affected by those pictures. Unnecessary fears and worries can be created in children’s minds, and even in the minds of many adults.

I have listened to many conversations between young people and even adults, when people are discussing their fears. People can develop fears of all sorts of things such as spiders, snakes, birds, heights, open spaces, enclosed spaces and so on. The strange thing is that they seem to love to discuss their fears almost as if they are proud of them, or even attached to them. They do not want to let go of them it seems. Irrational fears can control the lives of some people, preventing them from doing things or going to certain places. They hand over their power to someone else who is then expected to take control of the situation – to move the spider, climb the ladder, or get rid of the bird.

When we watch frightening things on television we can begin to think that certain things are dangerous and will harm us. We may have nightmares about them. They start to control our lives. The pictures and situations seem so convincing that they create real fear in us and affect our everyday lives.

People can also pick up fear from their parents for no good reason. A mother who is afraid of mice may pass this fear onto her children.

My advice would be do not watch horror films, don’t deliberately make yourself scared or uncomfortable. Be at peace, be rational, be calm and realistic. Certainly things can harm us, but the kinds of things that people fear will not normally be harmful at all. To be in control of your emotions is far better than being attached to your fears. That buzz of ‘dread energy’ that you get from fears could be achieved in different ways which are much more useful and constructive. When we challenge ourselves to achieve something and set about achieving it, the buzz that we get from our success will be far more satisfying and long-lasting than any fear induced adrenaline rush.