This blog is about learning through stories

Welcome to my Story Blog!  There are over 100 useful stories mostly for children but some for adults too.

To read my stories look at the 2 contents pages (with links), top of screen, which list all story subjects and suitable age groups OR go to  ‘categories‘ on right of screen to find what you need, scroll down to find a suitable story.   Or use key words, for example ‘punctuality’, ‘honesty’, etc, in the search box (top right).

This blog can work 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

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Paddy starts school with a cold potato in his pocket. A story for school starters of 5 years old

Paddy starts school with a cold potato in his pocket

Well hello, you can call me Paddy. I hear you are starting school soon. That will be grand. Things were different in my day. We had to walk to school, or if we were very lucky my dad would put us on the horse. Two kids up on the saddle and two walking, we would take it in turns to ride. I expect you will get taken to school by your mammy, or you may catch a school bus.

On my first day my mam gave me a cold potato for my pocket. That was to be my dinner, but I didn’t really understand that. When it came to dinner time I had nothing to eat as I ate my potato at playtime. Oh dear! I was sad and hungry. I sat on the floor and hid my face. A kind lady spoke to me.

‘Where is your tatty? she asked. ‘Did you eat it before?’

I nodded my head.

‘Awww, never mind. Here I’ve got one for you. You are not the only one you know.’

She sat me down at a table with several other new wee ones. She passed round a bowl with warm potatoes in it. Soon we were all smiling again.

‘ I’ll tell your mammy and your teacher,’ said the kind lady, ‘then you will know when to eat your dinner.’

I had a great day, I was happy at school. They had lots of crayons and games and books to look at. We played games in the playground and I soon got to know the names of the other children in my class.

When I got home I told my mam about the potato. She smiled and said how kind the lady was to give us all another one. She told me that next time I could just bite off the end of my tatty if I was hungry at playtime and I must wait until dinner time to eat the rest of it. She said the nice lady would not have potatoes to give away every day and I had to learn to wait for dinner time to eat mine.

Questions:

Who was the story about?

What was Paddy given for dinner by his mam?

Why was he sad at dinner time?

Was he the only one with no dinner?

What did the kind lady give to the children who didn’t have a tatty for their dinner?

What did Paddy need to remember about his potato the next day?

What nice things did Paddy do on his first day at school?

Wu and the journey. A story for 9 to 11 year olds, about integrity

Wu and the Journey.

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I am Wang Cheng. Although I am 40 years of age now I well remember my childhood. Chinese parents were allowed to have only one child as the population was growing out of control. The government were very strict about this. If parents went ahead and had two or more children, families could be split up, fined, or punished in other ways. All my friends were from single child families. This meant that all eyes were on the one child. Grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, they were all watching and tutting about my behaviour (and that of my friends in their own families). There was a lot of pressure to behave ‘just so’ to try to please everyone. I must say I did my best to make my family happy. I liked it when my grandma put her hand on my shoulder and said to me “Wang, I am very proud of you!” Or quote my father took me fishing for the day because as he said “I know you can behave yourself, not like your friend Wu. What are his parents thinking of letting him come and go and do what ever he likes to do?”

My friend Wu was my hero. I just loved the way he was so bold and daring. He did things I did not have the courage to do. I was always afraid that someone might tell me off. I was afraid of tearing my clothes or getting dirty, or of trying anything new in case I could not do it well, and my parents would be disappointed in me.

Wu’s parents had plenty of money but not much time, so they employed maidservants to look after Wu. Actually it was a string of maids that they had one after the other. These girls are very inexperienced in looking after children and they would just let Wu do what he wanted to do. He learned that if he screamed and shouted they would agree to let him do almost anything.

Wu decided he was going to have his own circus. He set up a wire in his backyard with the help of the gardener. It wasn’t very high, just a few centimetres off the ground. He soon discovered that it was quite easy to balance on it and to walk along it. When he fell off it didn’t matter as the ground was very close. He told me I should have a go, but I was afraid as usual. It would have been easy enough but I didn’t want to get drawn into his tricks.

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Soon the gardener helped Wu to raise the wire a bit. It was as high as the seat of a stool now. He could still walk along it and if he fell off he had a safe way of falling, he said. I told him he should show his parents, they would be proud of him.

‘No,’ said Wu, ‘they don’t care what I do. They are so busy working they are too tired to bother with me.’

Wu very much wanted his parents to care about what he did, so he started to dream up a plan. He didn’t think they would care for all his circus skills, his juggling, somersaults and high wire act. He decided to save his money and go on a train journey and then they would have to go and find him. They would have to take some time off work and go looking for him. He liked that idea.

‘You must come with me’, he said to me, ‘ I’m off to Chengdu. I have an uncle there. I don’t know exactly where he lives but someone will know him I’m sure.’

Wu told the maid what his plans were. Of course she didn’t believe him as he was always making up stories. He used to lie about all sorts of things to get attention. She just said  ‘Chengdu is a very big city, you will get lost there. You don’t even know where you live yourself let alone where to find your uncle!’

Wu stopped and had a think. ‘Well, will you write my address down for me so when I want to come back I can show the ticket man at the station?’

The maid laughed at his game and wrote his address down on a piece of card.

‘Look after it,’ she said, ‘or you might never come back!’

Wu came to find me to take me with him on his journey. I refused to go. I thought it was a bad idea although I would have loved to have gone with him. I thought my parents would be too worried if I just went off.

Wu disappeared. I ran to tell my grandma what had happened. She had heard so many things about what Wu had said he was going to do, but never did.

She said, ‘Don’t worry Wang, he’ll be back for his supper.’ I was not so sure.

That night his father came knocking at our door.

‘Is Wu here?’ he asked.

It was unusual to see him, he usually sent the maid to our place to bring Wu back for his meals.

‘No, he came and told me he was off to Chengdu,’ I said.

‘That’s right,’ said Grandma, ‘more of his nonsense!’

‘You mean you let him go?’ said Wu’s father.

‘Wu has told us so many fanciful things about what he is going to do, I have never tried to stop him because he never does them anyway and because it’s not my place to stop him. It is his parents place – yours.’ Grandma replied.

Wu’s father went red and then he turned white. He looked afraid. ‘He said he was going to catch the train?’

‘That’s what he said, but I didn’t believe him, where would he get the money for a ticket?’ said my Grandma.

Wu’s father rushed off. His wife had recently sacked the previous maid for stealing money. Perhaps Wu has been stealing the money.

Much later Wu told me about what happened that day. He had set off on the train to Chengdu. People were curious about him. They all wanted to know where he was going. They said he was too young to travel alone.

‘Where does your uncle live?’ asked a woman kindly.

‘I don’t know,’ said Wu, ‘someone will know him. Someone will tell me where he lives when I get there .’

The whole carriage has been listening, they burst out laughing; some looked concerned, some laughed cruelly .

The kind woman asked Wu where he lived. He showed her the piece of card.

‘Where are your parents?’

‘They work all day.’

She looked at his nice clothes and shoes. ‘They will be worried about you, you should go home.’

Wu told me he felt like crying. ‘Yes.’ he said, ‘but I don’t know how to go home.’

The woman looked at the piece of card. ‘I know this place,’ she said, ‘I will take you home.’

They left the train at the next station and climbed onto one going in the opposite direction. Wu was relieved to see his own station, a place he recognised from meeting his father when he had been away. They started to move through the crowds.

‘ Wu!’ He heard his father’s voice shouting his name. Well, he went home with his father, the kind lady disappeared, and Wu cried all the way home.

His father did not know what to say but gradually the whole story came out and Wu’s parents realised that their son was brave and clever, but needed more of their time and attention. He needed their guidance about telling the truth and about stealing. He needed to know about having a good reputation, or a bad one. His parents had to explain that if you do things which give you a bad reputation people will not trust you. They may not believe what you say when it is really true. You may find yourself in danger, as Wu nearly did. He needed to know that they appreciated his skills that he worked so hard at. Everyone needs praise and guidance when they are growing up. His grandma came to stay a while so that the family could sort themselves out.

Questions to be added – what questions would you add to make the story useful to children?  You can use the comments box!  Thank you!

 

Monkey Story 2 ‘The Visitors Arrive’, for kids of 6 to 8 years.

The visitors arrive at the Monkey Tribe’s home

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A story about kindness and consideration towards newcomers.

for children of 6 to 8 years old Story Number 2 of 2 stories

This story is ideal for children to turn into a play with some guidance from teachers or parents. Read the story to the children first and ask the questions posed at the end. Discuss with the children how they would like to act out the story and go ahead.

The day the two new monkeys came along was a day to remember.   All the young monkeys had their ideas about how helpful they were going to be, and how they were going to welcome their new visitors.

When the visitors arrived there was something different about them. They had yellow tails.

The monkeys eyed them up and down.

‘Who ever has a yellow tail?’ they thought . No monkeys had yellow tails in their tribe. They scurried round all checking their own tails.   Brown. All Brown. Was there something wrong about the new monkeys? Why were they different? What else was different about them? Did they speak the same way? Did they eat the same food? Did they sleep at night?

The young monkeys were puzzled. They had heard different monkeys jumping around in the trees before, but didn’t notice much about them. Now here were new monkeys who had lost their families and their tribe was being asked to be kind to them and make friends.

One of the clever monkeys thought he would offer them some berries to show that he was friendly.

Shyly the new monkeys ate the berries.

Then the clever monkey made a long chattering sound and the new monkeys answered him with their own slightly different chatter.

The clever monkey showed them his tail; he proudly waved it in front of them.

One of the new monkeys jumped up on to a branch and seemed to fall straight off it. Just in time he curled his tail round the branch and hung downwards on it showing everyone what a clever tail he had too.

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The monkeys soon realised that although their new friends looked a little different from them, they still needed kindness and friendship, and in their turn they would be kind and friendly too.

They fitted in very well with the monkey tribe and soon all the monkeys forgot about the differences between them, because those are the things that did not matter. Being kind and friendly and helping each other are what matters most.

Questions:

What would you call this story?

How did the monkeys feel about having new visitors?

How did the clever monkey make the new monkeys feel at home? 

What could the new monkey do with his tail? 

Even if monkeys or people are a bit different from us they are just the same inside, everyone, monkeys and people need what?

The Monkey Code, about kindness and consideration to newcomers. Story 1 for kids of 6 to 8 years old

   The Monkey Code

A story about kindness and consideration towards newcomers.

for children of 6 to 8 years old.    Story Number 1 of 2 stories

This story is ideal for children to turn into a play with some guidance from teachers or parents. Read the story to the children first and ask the questions posed at the end. Discuss with the children how they would like to act out the story and go ahead.

The monkeys were having a meeting, they were making a lot of noise and jumping up and down. There were monkey mothers and monkey children and some old grey monkeys too. Nobody could hear what anybody was saying.

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An old grey backed monkey stood and reached his big hand up to a tree branch. He shook it hard. All the leaves rattled and made a swishing noise. The baby monkeys ran to their mothers and hid. The boy and girl monkeys stopped jumping about and looked at the old grey monkey. They knew he was the leader of the tribe and that what he had to say was important. Monkeys who had been swinging about the branches clambered down to the ground to listen. Monkeys who were grooming each other stopped looking for bits and pieces to pick off their friends’ coats. All eyes were turned to Grey Back.

‘We are all here today because there is some news. Now listen carefully. We’re going to have some new monkeys in our tribe. There are two young monkeys coming to join us. They have lost their families. There was a fire in their part of the forest and they lost their homes. I want to know how you will take care of them when they come. The monkeys looked round at each other. They were very quiet. They knew that this was important and they were thinking hard. They were just imagining how frightened and lonely their new visitors might be. Some of the monkey children replied:

‘I can be a good friend,’ said one.

‘I can show them our food trees,’ said another.

‘I can help them to build a nest to sleep on at night,’ said a third.

The monkey mothers nodded their heads in agreement. It seemed like the young monkeys had learned their lessons well. They had been taught to look after each other and to be helpful and kind.

‘Well done ,’ said Grey Back, ‘if you look after others then they will look after you, but if you are unkind, others will turn away from you, and your unkindness will turn to unhappiness. And that is against the Monkey Code. What do we want? Happy monkeys, helpful monkeys, that’s our code!’

Grey Back gave the branch one last shake then lumbered off into the trees.

‘Happy monkeys, helpful monkeys!’ chattered the youngsters as they went back to their clambering about.’

‘I’m off to find some fruit’ said a teenage monkey.

‘Fruit, fruit!’ whooped the youngsters as they all disappeared into the trees.

Questions

What name would you give to this story – what do you think it is about?

Why did the monkeys have a meeting?

Why were two young monkeys coming to join the tribe? 

How did the monkeys say they would take care of the visitors?

How would you look after new people in school?

Does the story remind you of anything in your life?

The refugee situation – a story to think about

A story of compassion and greed, for people concerned about the refugee situation 2016

refugee-story001The child looked around her. She knew no one at all. Her brother has disappeared the previous day. He said he was going to look for water but never came back. She lay curled up on some rags she had found. Her body was tightly wound into a ball to keep warm. Hunger gnawed at her belly. Her mind was confused, no single thought formed properly. Emotions flooded through her. Shaking and trembling with cold, hunger and fear, she hid her face from the world. No one seemed to be interested anyway. She heard shouts and cries, the sounds of rough men and frightened women and children.

She tried to reconstruct the past she knew, that past which had been shattered by bombs and blood and death. She tried to dream herself back into the life that she had so recently been living…

Her mother cooked at the stove. The kitchen was bright and cheerful, colourful cloth draped the walls. She sat on her father’s knee and stroked his beard. Her elder brother was in the courtyard, she could hear his laughter as he played with his friends. Then suddenly fear came to stay. Planes high above, the sounds of explosions and screams, people running and nowhere to go.

‘What shall we do, my husband?’ asked her mother.

‘We shall wait, there is no place any safer than here,’ said her father.

They gathered in the doorway and watched huge clouds of dust rising in the distance. Her brother flew indoors, aghast and horrified by the noise.

A few minutes later the child found herself on the floor. The air was so thick with dust she could not see across the room. She reached out and felt the body of her father lying beside her, lifeless. Her mother too lay beside the stove, the small flames still sputtered, lighting the dust which gathered on every surface and on the bodies of her parents. She crawled across the room thinking it might be safer to stay low. Under the table cowered her brother, speechless and in shock. She wrapped her arms around him and they remained under the table until after what seemed like a very long time, the bombings stopped.

Then shouts and cries filled the air, wails of sorrow and loss. Someone shouted their father’s name. The man pushed into the ruined kitchen, it was the neighbour, the girl gave a cry.

They were all shepherded out of the ruined houses. She held tightly to her brother’s hand. He couldn’t seem to be able to speak.

There on the rags, curled up, starving and thirsty she couldn’t recall the rest. She didn’t want to. She hoped to somehow get back in time and choose a better way forward, but young as she was she knew that it would not be possible.

refugee-story001

She felt a hand on her shoulder, it was gentle and kind like a mother’s hand. A young woman in clean clothing and with a badge in the shape of a Red Cross peered at her. She spoke words that were unfamiliar to her and offered her a bottle of water. Painfully the girl uncurled herself and taking the water drank deeply.

The Red Cross women held her hand and helped her to stand. She felt so weak she could hardly put one foot in front of the other. She was carried to a lorry where a number of other children waited. They all had a bottle of water and a small loaf of bread. Most were silent, quietly nibbling their bread, their eyes hollow. She pushed the loaf they gave her under her clothes. She couldn’t eat.

At a camp the children were put into tents, boys in boys tents, girls with girls. The older girls helped the younger ones to get what they needed – blankets, water and food.

After a second long journey in a lorry they found themselves in a place where houses were still standing, where people were very poor but friendly, although they spoke a different tongue. She was taken in by a family which already had four children. There was a heavy stone in her heart, which seemed to get heavier each time she thought of her parents and her brother. She could tell no one about how she was feeling as her words were not understood.

Meanwhile in the West people shook their heads in sorrow. A few signed cheques to help those in trouble. A few gathered up unwanted clothes and sent them off in lorries to Syria. A small number of brave, adventurous souls went to help in the camps, but most people did nothing.

Some recalled the two World Wars when refugees were accepted, accommodated and cared for. But somehow ‘War Time’ was different. Then everyone had a personal investment in it. Families had members who were soldiers; many knew people who had lost their lives. Sacrifices were made and expected of everyone. The whole of Europe and most of the rest of the world was involved. People could empathise with the loss and sacrifice.

Attitudes are different now. People have grown fat and rich and are afraid of giving up even a tiny bit of their wealth or their freedom to do exactly what they want to do for themselves. They think that they are not involved in this war in the Middle East. They think they can shut it out, shut the borders, close their eyes to it, refuse to recognise the suffering. Let other people in other countries, which happen to be closer but are not involved in the war, let them take the refugees. It doesn’t seem to matter to the West that many of these countries are very poor already, they are expected to share what little they do have with all the suffering and dispossessed peoples.

Many people in countries in the West seems to be losing the ability to be generous and compassionate and instead focus on keeping what they have, come what may. It seems that the more they have the less they want to give. Is this the equality that is spoken about so loudly? It is time for a rethink.

Questions:

How do you see refugees?  Are they guilty and need to be punished for being homeless? Looking back at your family history, or your friends’ families, how many of them have been persecuted for their race, religion, colour or nationality?  Who helped them to get through and become happy and productive citizens?

Does your heart go out to refugees when you hear about their suffering?

Do you feel you would like to do something but cannot think how you could make a difference?

How do your friends feel about the situation, are they selfish or generous?  

Does anyone express an opinion or do they just keep quiet and hope not to become involved?

Could you afford to give something to the Red Cross or similar organisation that you trust to help these people.

Could you raise some funds by holding an event, large or small, to show solidarity with those who are suffering?  Is anyone in your town involved in this?  How can you find out?

You could let me know how you get on….

‘Poochie’ A dog story about keeping calm and not panicking, for children of 5-6 years old. 337 words, 2 -3 minutes to read

Subject Resilience

Poochie

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You know, being a dog is very interesting. Everything smells so different. You have to keep sniffing to see what’s been happening. You can tell a lot from sniffing.

My human, she is called Katie, she can’t tell much from sniffing. In fact the only time I see her sniffing is when she’s sniffing me! She cuddles me and sniffs my head. I hear her telling her mum that I smell nice – sort of warm and fluffy.

‘Are you dog sniffing again?’

‘Yes, I like sniffing Poochie!’

Poochie, that’s what they call me! My real name is Puccini!  I am quite small for a dog. I can fit onto Katie’s lap and fall asleep and she just sits there stroking me.

One day I saw a hole in the garden fence. I sniffed at it and smelt something different. I just had to squeeze through and look around . Katie saw me go. She screamed and shouted to her mother. What a terrible noise she made! I hid behind a bucket. I didn’t want to be with her if she was screaming.

‘Poochie won’t come back if you go on making all that noise. Now dry your tears and get a treat from Poochie’s tin. He’ll soon smell it and come back.’

Well, Katie must have done what her mother told her, because the next thing I knew I could smell my special treat from Katie’s side of the fence. And there was Katie peeping through the hole and calling gently ‘Come on Puccini, come and get your treat.’

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Poochie peeps through the hole in the fence, looking for treats.

So I followed my nose, didn’t I? Katie’s mum quickly blocked the hole in the fence behind me and there I was being stroked and eating my treats! Then Katie’s mum was stroking Katie’s head and saying, ‘There you see, it’s much better not to panic and scream and cry. Everyone feels better if they keep calm and get help.’

Questions 

What was the little dog’s name in the story?

How do dogs get to know what’s been happening around them?

What did Poochie mean when he says that Katie was his human?

What did Katy like to do Poochie when he was on her lap?

How did Poochie’s nose get him into trouble?

What did Katie do when Poochie disappeared through the fence?

What did Poochie do when he heard her screaming and crying?

What did Katie’s mum say when Katy was screaming and crying? 

How did Poochie’s nose sort out the problem? (Why did he come back through the hole?)

Does this story remind you of anything in your life?

Sometimes it is good to cry and shout and let your feelings out.  Then when you have done it, you can stop and tell people who love you about your problem, and then you feel a bit better about it.  In this story Katie’s mum came quickly to help, and that was when Katie needed to stop screaming and crying, so she did!

 

 

 

 

 

Young girl dies after taking ‘teddies’. A story about taking drugs for 11yrs to teenage.

Sharon learns something about drugs

Sharon's Avatar

Sharon was bored again. She heard something on the news about a girl of 12 who died after taking something called ‘teddies’. It was a made to look harmless and fun in the shape of a teddy’s head. She searched for ‘teddies’ on her laptop . Immediately she found a site which claimed to advise people about drugs. There were a few questions and answers about taking unknown pills, and then she found this poem. It grabbed her attention.

“I destroy homes, tear families apart – take your children, and that’s just the start.
I’m more costly than diamonds, more costly than gold – the sorrow I bring is a sight to behold.
And if you need me, remember I’m easily found.
I live all around you, in schools and in town.
I live with the rich, I live with the poor, I live down the street, and maybe next door.
My power is awesome – try me you’ll see.
But if you do, you may never break free.
Just try me once and I might let you go, but try me twice, and I’ll own your soul.
When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie.
You’ll do what you have to just to get high.
The crimes you’ll commit, for my narcotic charms, will be worth the pleasure you’ll feel in your arms.
You’ll lie to your mother; you’ll steal from your dad.
When you see their tears, you should feel sad.
But you’ll forget your morals and how you were raised.
I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways.
I take kids from parents, and parents from kids, I turn people from God, and separate from friends.
I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride, I’ll be with you always, right by your side.
You’ll give up everything – your family, your home, your friends, your money, then you’ll be alone.
I’ll take and I’ll take, till you have nothing more to give.
When I’m finished with you you’ll be lucky to live.
If you try me be warned this is no game. 
If given the chance, I’ll drive you insane.
I’ll ravish your body, I’ll control your mind.
I’ll own you completely; your soul will be mine.
The nightmares I’ll give you while lying in bed.
The voices you’ll hear from inside your head.
The sweats, the shakes, the visions you’ll see.
I want you to know, these are all gifts from me.
But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart, that you are mine, and we shall not part.
You’ll regret that you tried me, they always do.
But you came to me, not I to you.
You knew this would happen. 
Many times you were told, but you challenged my power, and chose to be bold.
You could have said no, and just walked away.
If you could live that day over, now what would you say?
I’ll be your master; you will be my slave.
I’ll even go with you, when you go to your grave.
Now that you have met me, what will you do?
Will you try me or not? 
Its all up to you.
I can bring you more misery than words can tell.
Come take my hand, let me lead you to hell.”
by
Samantha Reynolds

Crystal, hash, teddies, they have many names and many effects. Young people may be tempted to try them. They may be told that it’s cool to take them, that their lives will be more exciting, and that the drugs are not addictive. Their friends may be taking them, or they meet someone in the street who is young and smiling, who offers friendship and kindness, and drugs. What to do? How bad is it? How bad could it be?

Just picture your mother or father finding you slumped in a corner unable to move. That’s how bad it can be. Picture your grandma dabbing her eyes with her hanky and saying, ‘She shouldn’t have died before me.’

It can be that bad. Or it can send you to a mental hospital. Your brain is a delicate instrument. Some of these drugs are contaminated or are much stronger than you think; you just don’t know what you are swallowing or sniffing or injecting.

Or it can go so well that you want to find more. You can’t stop thinking about it. It was so good you were able to forget all your troubles. You need more, but it costs money and you don’t have enough. You steal from your parents. Eventually they get so angry with you that you leave home. You are on the street with no money, no food and no drugs. You steal from an old lady; you take her bag. She is so frightened and shocked that she falls over and hits her head and dies. You go to prison. You think you might be among friends in prison but you are not. They are violent and dangerous people and they hurt you. This is a black tale, but it happens far more than you want to know, and all because someone was tempted to ‘have some fun’.

It can be a very slippery slope and slippery slopes are almost impossible to climb out of. Suicides are common among drug users. Don’t become one, ever. You can always find people who say they have been using drugs for years and are still OK, but there are many who are not. Surely it is not worth the risk?

Questions:

What questions would you like to ask? Don’t be afraid to ask an informed adult, someone you trust. Do not ask a drug user, they will probably not give you an honest answer.

 

 

Brexit, a different view

One Foreigner’s Point of View on Brexit

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Iceland is as its name implies, very cold. My family were used to it but I never wanted to stay in that climate. The warmth of the sun tempted me away from my country. I left and travelled to Europe in my early 20s. I was unsure as to where I wanted to settle. I decided to try out as many European countries as I could. They all have their attractions and they all have their faults. It was interesting to notice that they are all well aware of their best attributes, but seemed to be unaware of their own problematic behaviours, which were slightly different in each country.

Each had national pride, traditions and values close to the hearts of their citizens, but they were blind to their own difficult issues. They felt that, what ever they were, they were common issues the world over. I was present when the European Union was formed and people’s eyes were opened to their own idiosyncrasies and their foibles and unfairnesses. Many laws were made and much exchange took place. Towns were twinned, people shared their lives, if only for short periods. Countries could no longer turn a blind eye to their problems, and solutions suddenly seemed possible. It was no longer deemed appropriate for workers to be at the mercy of their employers regarding hours worked and pay rates. Equality of opportunity suddenly became a concept that was enshrined in law instead of being jeered at by those who felt they were ‘more equal’ than anyone else. Racism, sexism, ageism became part of the vocabulary. ‘Inclusion’ became a byword.

Of course it was not all entirely without fault or difficulty but the lives of millions were improved beyond imagining. Meanwhile law makers went too far on occasion. The combination of open borders and a reduction in the availability of work for those who were unwilling or unable to perform various tasks both and skilled or skilled, began to led to resentment.

Meanwhile a swirl of humanity has occurred over the past 30 years, as indeed it has on many occasions in our human history, as modern genetic studies have shown us. This mixing cannot be undone. It leads to strength in the gene pool rather than to weakness. It leads to the worst excesses of the different cultures being changed and improved. It leads to compassion and understanding between different cultures and races. We cannot step backwards. We must learn to move forwards together; there is no purification that can take place. We are by nature and ever-changing species growing and improving.

Our strength is unity in our diversity.

If Britain cuts itself off from Europe I am moving back to Iceland, chilly as it is, it won’t feel as cold and isolated as I fear Britain will, alone in the world following a ‘Brexit’.

A lonely road

A lonely road

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?