This blog is about learning through stories

This blog is a collection of short stories which can be used to teach children of all ages aspects of social and moral education. You will also find therapeutic stories to help with life’s difficulties, for both adults and children. 

Click on ‘select category’ on right of screen to find what you need, scroll down to find a suitable story, or look at the contents page (see above) for links to every story. Age range is indicated for each story. The search box (top right) may also help.

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

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.


  • 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

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 1


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


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 Older Primary children, Teens, Special Needs and Parents


Voices On Her Shoulders

“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 has never experienced depression before and this quote seems 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 has 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 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


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.

Losing Her Marbles. 11 year old Rosie talks about her Grandma who has just died

Losing Her Marbles

‘Oh, Granddad, you’re up here too. It’s nice and breezy isn’t it and the sea’s looking all sparkly.’

‘I suppose the parade ground is good for roller-skating. They don’t do much parading round here these days,’ said her Granddad.

Rosie glanced down at her roller blades; she didn’t feel she should correct Granddad. He didn’t notice the difference between blades and skates and she didn’t want to argue with him. She knew he was sad these days. Rosie’s friends were across the other side of the parade ground. This would be their last summer together before secondary school, but she thought she would take this chance to talk to her Granddad.

She looked across to the lighthouse which everyone called Smeaton’s tower, at the far end of the huge parade ground.

‘Did you used to come up here when you were a boy Granddad?’

‘I did, I used to bring my old go-kart up here, we had races, me and my pals. That was before the war of course, before I met your grandma.’

‘Yes, you met her after the war didn’t you granddad? I expect you miss her now she’s gone.’

‘I do miss her Rosie, but not Grandma as you knew her. She had already gone before you were born, you know. She got that ‘old timers disease’ before she ever was an old timer. The grandma you knew was just an empty shell really.’

‘Is that why she never knew my name, Granddad? Because she had no brain – she was an empty shell?’

‘Well she didn’t exactly have no brain, but it had stopped working long ago.’

Rosie shuddered. ‘I don’t want to be an empty shell when I’m old, Granddad.’

‘No, nor do I Rosie,’ said the old man, ‘but there’s no point in fretting about it. Most people keep their marbles and I’m certainly intending to keep mine.’

‘Do you want to have a game then, Granddad, I didn’t know you still had marbles.’

‘Oh, I keep mine well hidden, I don’t play with them any more, I just look after them as best I can.’

Rosie looked puzzled. ‘Oh, I keep mine in this little bag here Granddad, see? We can have a game if you like.’

‘Tell you what, if I lie down like this on my coat and you do all the fetching, I will give you a game.’

A warm glow filled Rosie’s chest. This was the first time her Granddad had ever played marbles or anything else with her. Perhaps there were some good things that can happen along with the sadness when somebody dies.


What do you think Rosie’s granddad might have been doing when she met him up on the parade ground?

Why was Rosie on the parade ground?

What did Rosie’s Granddad used to do on the parade ground when he was a boy? 

How could Rosie tell that her grandma wasn’t quite right when she was alive?’

Rosie’s Granddad said Grandma was like an empty shell, and that she had a certain illness that he called ‘Old Timer’s Disease’. What is an old timer? Do you know the right name for that illness?

How long might she have been ill for before she died? 

What did Granddad mean about looking after his marbles?

Why do you think Granddad had never played with Rosie?

How do you think Granddad felt after his wife had died?

What was the good thing that happened for Rosie after her chat with her Granddad?

Does the story remind you of anything in your life?



The Animal on the Mountain – story for little kids about not keeping wild animals as pets

                                                            The Animal On The Mountain.

Mary and Donald, Tommy’s Granny and Granddad, went to France to see the mountains, which were like huge, tall pointed hills with snow on top. They looked very rocky and difficult to climb. Mary decided she would not try to climb the mountains. She would just walk around the bottom of them where there were lovely flowers called alpine plants.

As Mary and Donald got ready to go on a mountain walk they put bottles of water and some biscuits in their rucksacks. They carried raincoats and wore sun hats. You can never tell what the weather is going to do in the mountains. It can be quite cold or very hot. Sometimes there are thunderstorms and very heavy rain. Mary wanted to be ready for anything. They decided they would try to go and see a glacier, which is a frozen river of ice. When you go on a mountain walk you zig-zag up the sides of the mountain so that it doesn’t feel too steep to climb. Mary had her two walking poles with her to help her go uphill more easily.

She was getting a bit puffed so she sat on a rock to have a rest. Then she thought she saw something moving along between the rocks. It was difficult to see. It was brown and furry. It disappeared. Mary whispered to Donald ‘Look over there! A creature is coming this way! Shush, don’t frighten it!’

A Marmot


It was bigger than a rabbit and a smaller than a badger. It had little short legs and it moved a bit like a rabbit or perhaps a cat. It did not hop. Every few steps it flipped its wiggly tail, which was longer than a rabbit’s ‘powder puff’ tail. It had little short rounded ears.

Donald said, ‘It can’t be a rabbit because it hasn’t got long ears.’

Then Mary got excited. ‘I know, it’s a marmot! My nephew Antony had a toy one to cuddle when he was young. It was his favourite toy! Oh Donald, I’d love to take a marmot home for Tommy! It looks so sweet! Tommy could feed it and keep it in a cage in the garden.’

‘I don’t think it would be happy in a box,’ said Donald.

‘We could make a big run for him then. Oh I do want a marmot for Tommy! I’m going to try to catch one!’ said Mary and she went scrambling over the rocks towards the marmot. It sat and watched her struggling with her sticks, then just before she got too close, it popped down a hole in the ground. Mary tried again and again to catch a marmot, but it was too difficult. Mary was determined to bring a marmot home for Tommy.

‘I will just have to buy one in a French pet shop,’ she told Donald.

The pet shop man smiled a sad smile, ‘Very sorry madam,’ he said, ‘we do not sell marmots here. Nobody sells them. They belong in the mountains. That’s their proper home. They don’t like to be kept in a cage. They like to be out on the mountain eating the alpine plants.’ Mary was sad. She told the pet shop man about Tommy and how much he might love one, just like Antony did.

‘Why don’t you buy Tommy a nice furry toy marmot? He can play with it and stroke it and talk to it and he will not need to feed it. And his marmot will not be unhappy like a real one would be.’ said the pet shop man.

Mary smiled a big smile ‘Ah yes, now that is a good idea! I’ll get a toy marmot!’ So she did and it’s on its way to Tommy right now on the boat to Ireland.


What sort of animal did Mary see living in the mountains?

How big was it? Did it look cuddly or fierce?

What did Mary want to do to the marmot?

Why could she not catch one?

Would it be a good idea to keep a marmot as a pet? Why not?

What sort of food do marmots eat?

What did the pet shop man tell Mary to do for Tommy, instead of bringing a real live marmot home?


A story to introduce the idea of character development: Should Marcy be the Boss? – for children 9-10 years

Should Marcy be the Boss?

Marcy lived in San Diego, USA. Her parents had a beautiful large house with a swimming pool. and Marcy was their only child. Marcy’s mother Bettina loved to play golf, to visit the beautician and her hairdresser, to work with her personal trainer and to do a little charity work one day a week. She was a busy lady. She did not have time to clean or cook so she employed Olivia, a woman from Mexico, just over the border from San Diego.

Bettina allowed her home help Olivia to go home across the border at weekends. She spent her days cleaning and cooking and looking after Marcy when she wasn’t at school. Marcy loved Olivia. She always had time to chat about any problem Marcy had and Marcy was the kind of girl who was always having problems. She was ten years old and she and her friends were always falling out.

If Marcy told her mother about it, Bettina would say
‘Gee honey, I don’t know why you bother with Mary Lou (or Jamie Lee, or whoever Marcy had fallen out with). But that answer did not satisfy her; she wanted to know why things had gone wrong between her and her friends, and Olivia would always ask Marcy the right questions about what had happened to help her to understand these ups and downs.

Olivia had three children of her own whom she saw only at weekends. Marcy loved to hear about them as she had no brothers or sisters to play with or to think about. Olivia’s family were almost like a family to Marcy except that she had never met them.

One day during the summer holidays Olivia asked Marcy’s Mum, Bettina, if she could bring her youngest daughter Karen to stay for a week. Olivia’s mother, Karen’s grandmother, had to go to hospital and could not look after the children for a few days.

Bettina agreed, ‘Sure that will be okay. Marcy has fallen out with all her friends at the moment, so Karen will keep her company.’

‘She will be no trouble,’ said Olivia, ‘she can help me with the work. Marcy might not want to play with her.’

‘Oh yes I do, I do want to play with her!’ shouted Marcy who had been listening from behind the half closed kitchen door.
Olivia looked at Marcy then at Bettina, her half smile said a lot. Bettina easily read her expression.
‘Marcy, if Karen comes she will be staying here and you won’t be able to treat her like you treat your so-called friends. You will have to be kind and considerate and not flounce off in a huff and say ‘I’ll never speak to you again.’
Marcy blushed. ‘I don’t say that! Well, if I do I don’t mean it!’

‘That maybe so, but do your friends know that? No one has called round it at all this holiday. Have you put them all off?’

Marcy stomped out of the kitchen. Bettina and Olivia looked at each other. Both women thought the other should be making a better job of showing Marcy how to behave, but of course neither said so.
‘Karen can come tomorrow, that will be fine,’ said Bettina in an uncertain voice, which told of her doubts.

When Karen arrived Marcy was all over her. She talked non-stop and took her all around the house and showed her where she could and could not go. She decided that she would be the boss and Karen would be a servant, a servant who would play with her when Marcy wanted to play, otherwise she could help her mother.

The adults did not hear about this arrangement. They had thought that the girls could make friends with each other and have some fun, perhaps swim in the pool, play handball and watch a few videos together.

On the second day Karen refused to go to play with Marcy.
‘I want to help you today, Mum,’ she said.

‘Why what’s the problem?’ asked Olivia.
As usual Marcy was listening from behind the door.
‘Marcy is treating me like a servant. She keeps telling me to fetch things for her. She tells me what to do all the time. Even in the pool, she tells me where I can swim and how many lengths I have to do. She’s so bossy!’

Marcy felt herself blushing. That was exactly what her friends kept telling her. She did not know how to behave in a nice way towards people. She had to think quickly.
She skipped in the door. ‘ Hi Karen.’ She said. ‘I was playing at being the boss yesterday. I forgot to tell you. Sorry. Today you can be the boss. It’s your turn. Just tell me what to do and I will do it.’

Karen looked surprised. ‘Oh is that what you were doing? Well it wasn’t much fun for me. I think I’m not going to choose to be the boss. We’ll have a different game. I will be a teacher and I will show you how to take turns, how to share and to be polite and considerate, and you can pretend that you don’t know how to be those things, and I will teach you. We could make a play about it and show Mum and Bettina tonight.’

This is a story about character. What does the word mean to you?
Who in the story shows that they have a good character?
What is it that they do that shows you this?
How could Bettina be a better mother?
Why does Marcy keep losing her friends?
Why does Karen not want to play with Marcy?
What advice would you give to Marcy to help her to keep her friends?
How could you help someone who needs to learn better behaviour?

A Family Separated by Distance and Mistaken Ideas (for adults and children of 12 plus)

.A Family Separated by Distance and Mistaken Ideas.

About 40 years ago a member of the McTavish family left the shores of the United Kingdom and moved to Canada. Other members of the family felt somewhat rejected by this move. Fiona McTavish now took on the mantle of a Canadian person. She had moved in order to start a new life, which had not seemed possible in her home country as her husband was an immigrant and was not well accepted in the United Kingdom. They both knew that Canada would be more open and welcoming to them and that financially they could make that change. Life would be easier for them, her husband would find a job and she knew that she could find training as a nurse.

Fiona took her husband’s name which was Stanislaus, later to be changed to Stanley which was more acceptable and more easily spelt. The couple had children and for 20 years Fiona turned her attention to bringing up the children and was able to work part-time in the local hospital when all the children were at secondary school. Her family built up many friendships and relationships within the Canadian community, but they lacked family members, cousins, aunts and uncles with whom to share holiday times and celebrations.

Meanwhile the McTavish family feeling somewhat rejected by Fiona built up a picture of her as a person who had never liked them, had never appreciated their ways and had never valued them. Time passed by and some of the younger members of the family were making family trees in school. They began to ask about Fiona and why they never heard from her. ‘Oh she lives too far away to be interested in us,’ was the reply.

Fiona’s life was indeed busy and in truth, she knew that she did not have much time to be thinking about distant cousins, aunts and uncles. However she had an inkling of their sentiments towards her so that when she thought of them they seem to represent a small grey hole in her life. She would have preferred rather to picture a distant circle of light joined to her over the seas by a silver thread of positive connection. She was aware of that silver thread connecting her to those who had passed on and whom she knew and loved in her old life. She thought of them fondly though she had met them but a few times.

Fiona Canada  1

Fiona did not hope for regular connection nor frequent news, nor catching up on the 40 years lived apart, but she felt that it is better to emanate positive feelings towards all ones blood relations rather than to ponder over misunderstandings or to hang on to hurt feelings with a sense of lack of forgiveness.



Does this story remind you of anything in your life?

Why do you think the McTavish family built up their feelings of rejection towards Fiona?

Can you think of examples of whole groups of people building up stories of resentment toward other groups of people over time and history?

What kind of effect might this have on whole populations of countries?

What can we do as individuals to start to improve this situation, as in truth it is happening all over the world?



The Unhappy Weeping Willow Tree ( A story for young girls, 8 to 12 yrs to combat the trend of dissatisfaction with looks, photoshopping, skinny models, and cosmetic surgery

The Unhappy Weeping Willow Tree

A young weeping willow lived on the edge of a riverbank. From her home she could see fields, hedges, a beautiful wood and a mountain.

People and animals passed by her on the riverside track and would notice how her delicate branches dipped and swayed. “How lovely!” they all thought. But the weeping willow was not happy. As she looked about her she was always finding fault with herself and comparing her shape with other trees.

“Oh,” she sighed “I wish I were taller and could reach high into the sky like that Poplar tree over there”, or “How I wish I had a good wide strong trunk like the Oak, I am so skinny and thin.” or “Ah, look at the interesting shape of the branches in the Scots Pine, my branches are so droopy.” And she went on feeling miserable about herself.

One day two girls came by and sat beside her on the riverbank.

“I like it here by the weeping willow,” said one, “You can hide from the world. It’s like a green cave, isn’t it a lovely tree, Sally?”

“Yes,” said the other, “and I can tell you my secret, Mary, which makes me sad. Being beside a weeping willow seems a good place to feel sad.”

“What is your secret?” asked her friend.

The two girls sat beneath the willow tree 4

“ I am worried about how I will look when I grow up, and I’m worried about if the operations I will need will hurt or if they will cost a lot of money.”

“Sally what are you talking about? There’s nothing wrong with you is there? I mean you look fine to me! What operations do you think you will need?”

“Please don’t tell anyone, Mary, promise me! I think my nose is not straight enough and my ears are too big. My auntie has a flat chest and I don’t want to look like her, so I must get something done to make me bigger. And I hate my freckles.”

“Stop, stop!” said Mary. “Everyone is different from everyone else. You shouldn’t want to change yourself and try to be something you are not. That’s not good thinking. Some people do themselves a lot of harm trying to change themselves.  They are never happy with how they are, even when they have changed.”

Sally looked around at the lovely tree they were leaning on. “I wish I were like this tree,” she said. “Then I’d be happy just being me. It’s so lucky just staying put, looking at its reflection in the water. No one teases it about its freckles or its ears or nose. It must be so contented.”

“Oh you’ve been paying attention to those boys have you? You think that what they say matters? Don’t listen to them Sally, they just say anything at all to get attention.”

The girls stood up. Sally stroked the bark of the Willow. Suddenly she felt better. The girls wandered off along the riverbank.

The willow tree gently waved her branches, she felt better too. It made sense to be happy with what she was and to learn to appreciate her finer points instead of envying other trees for what they were. She decided she would be happy to admire others, but not to wish she could look like them, because everyone is made to be different and that’s how it is, and that’s how it should be.


How did you feel when you heard the story?

Did it remind you of anything in your life?

Why was the weeping willow unhappy?

What did it want to be like?

What was Sally’s secret?

Why did the tree change its ideas about wanting to be different?





A story about ‘Changes’ for 9-10yrs (Dotty has to leave her home)


Now ‘Dotty the Dalmation story’ has a picture. This story is useful for those working with children to be fostered or adopted.

Originally posted on Yoga Stories:

A story about “Changes” (SEAL topic) illustrating the value of LOVE (6mins)

Dotty the Dalmation has to leave her home

Everyone calls me Dotty, but actually I am ‘Miranda Saint Edmunds the Second’.  I am a Dalmatian.  I come from a long line of famous dogs.  I am sure you know my breed; we are white, spotted all over with black dots.  We are considered to be very pretty and a little stupid – hard to train – you know the sort of thing; we don’t like to ‘fetch’ or to ‘sit’.  We just like to do our own thing.

When I was born, my owners had plenty of money.  The husband worked in the city, in ‘The Bank’, and the wife had no job as such.  She bred us Dalmatians and spent of lot of time walking us on Hampstead Heath.  She had lots of friends who were all…

View original 785 more words