Children are facing a time of increased solitude. I am a retired teacher writing the story The Secret Prince to show a child who faces a similar situation in which he is stuck at home (well, a castle in his case). A flood surrounds the castle and Prince Ronduin cannot go to school in the village and cannot run through the woods. How does he pass his time? Can Ronduin be a role model for children today? Can the story help to normalize the experience of being stuck at home? I’ve been pleased to learn that a growing group of families is reading this to their children as the story grows. Teachers are also using this story with their classes. My goal is to add a chapter each Monday and Thursday.
Perhaps you will join us. Kim Allsup
If you are new to this story, start here: https://childrengrowing.com/2020/03/15/stories-for-children-in-times-of-trouble-storytelling-help-for-parents-in-the-era-of-covid-19/
You will find a link to the next chapter (as soon as it is available) at the end of each chapter.
Some teachers and parents follow the time-tested approach (used in Waldorf Schools) of telling a story on one day, then asking the child to retell it the next day. The day after that, the child engages in an activity related to the story: writing, math, drawing, making or using a jumprope, building a model or making a map for example.
Please join us for conversations, updates, ideas for follow up activities, new chapters and translations by joining The Secret Prince Story Community on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/640925113394726/
Ronduin’s father had said, “Let’s sit and you can tell us all about what you figured out.” But, when they entered the kitchen, his parents did not sit down at the dining table. Instead, they joined Cook Agnes by the fire which crackled so loudly that Ronduin could not hear their words from where he sat waiting at the table.
Ronduin watched the gray and white kitchen cat named Meow, just under the edge of the table, eating the last bits of food in her bowl. He put his hand down to pet Meow as she walked by, but she darted to the side as if to say, “How dare you try to touch me!” Ronduin was not surprised. Meow had always been a standoffish cat. Now she jumped onto the windowsill and glared at Ronduin. He felt like she was saying, “A cat that is so noble that is has one green eye and one blue eye does not agree to be petted by a mere boy.”
Ronduin’s parents and Cook Agnes showed no sign that they were ready to eat breakfast. Ronduin was tired of waiting for them. He wanted to tell his parents about his dream. He wanted to explain how The Bowl was like the cider spill on the table. He wanted to explain why the floodwaters continued to rise even after the rain stopped.
Ronduin’s mother raised her voice so Ronduin could hear her ask a question in spite of the crackling of the fire. “Ronduin, did you say the water is higher today?”
Ronduin got up from the table and walked quickly to the hearth. “Yes, it’s a bout a half step higher,” he said, holding his hands out to show how much the water had risen.
Cook Agnes said, “And the water had already risen at least a step higher than when Sir Andrew left.”
Ronduin’s mother said, “When the water is a step and a half higher here, it’s also a step and a half higher in the village.”
“That much extra water won’t really affect us,” said Ronduin’s father, “but I wonder about how it might affect people in the village.”
“Sir Andrew told me that the water level at Ricard’s farm was close to flooding the goat yard, said Cook Agnes. “I know that farm. A step and a half more water means the goat yard is totally flooded. The house and their garden are higher than the goat yard, so they are still dry.”
“Didn’t Sir Andrew say that Ricard’s family invited another family to stay with them?” asked Ronduin’s father.
“Yes,” said Cook Agnes. “It’s the baker’s family. They have little twins and a boy who is older than Ronduin. Ricard’s family has a boy about the same age as the baker’s boy and, in Ricard’s family, there’s Mirabel and two younger children.”
Ronduin counted all the people who were living in Mirabel’s house. He counted on his fingers as he imagined each person:
Mirabel’s family has four children and the baker’s family has three children. And there’s Mirabel’s parents, two more. And the baker and his wife, two more. And Sir Andrew is staying there too.
“The house is very small,” said Cook Agnes. “Just one room with a sleeping loft. It’s smaller than this kitchen.”
“And they have to fit twelve people,” said Ronduin, who could not picture so many people in such a small house.
“At least they get to go outside. We can’t go outside here, except on the balcony with the chickens,” said the Queen.
“I had a dream about Mirabel,” said Ronduin. “It helped me figure out why the water is rising.”
Cook Agnes stopped stirring the porridge, looked at Ronduin, and said, “I’ve been wondering about that too. Why does the water keep rising even though the rain has stopped?”
“If the porridge is ready, let’s take it to the table where we can eat while Ronduin explains,” said the King.
“I need some things to help explain it,” said Ronduin finding a wooden bowl, a small plate and a larger plate and and a jug of water. He carried these to the dining table.
While Cook Agnes served the porridge, Ronduin set the two plates on the table with the small one on top of the large one. He held the bowl in his hands.
“It’s like this,” said Ronduin, pouring enough water from the jug into the small plate until it filled to the top of its narrow rim.
“Imagine this is the normal amount of water in the lake,” he said, pointing to the water filling the plate.”
“Now, a big rainstorm continues for many, many, many days.”
“It falls on the lake and it overflows everywhere,” said Ronduin pouring more into the small plate until it overflowed into the bigger plate with a deep rim. “This is the lake overflowing.”
“The rain also falls on the mountains and fills the area called The Bowl.” Ronduin filled the bowl and held it above the plates.
“Now it stops raining,” continued Ronduin. “But The Bowl in the mountains drains very slowly because it comes out through a small crack in the rocks.”
Ronduin slowly poured water from the bowl into the small plate which overflowed into the big plate, filling it to almost to the top of its thick rim. “See, the flood waters are rising, even though the rain has stopped.”
Cook Agnes, the Queen and the King nodded their heads. “That is exactly what happens,” said the King, smiling.
“Then why do the flood waters eventually go away?” asked Cook Agnes.
Ronduin thought for a moment while he finished pouring the last drops of water from the higher bowl.
“Well,” he said, “the river that flows out of the lake, will eventually carry the extra water to the sea.”
Suddenly Ronduin felt a bit mischievous.”Like this,” he said, quickly tipping the plates so the water spilled toward the floor and could be heard splashing below.
His mother lifted her legs and barked in a shocked voice, “Ronduin!”. Cook Agnes called out, “stop!”
But Ronduin laughed as did his father. The King’s place at the table allowed him to see that Ronduin was not spilling the water onto the floor, but was simply pouring it into the empty bowl that belonged to the cat.
An idea for a follow up conversation the day after reading the story: Ask your child whether it was naughty for Ronduin to appear to pour water on the floor.
An idea for a follow up activity: Do something similar to the flooding demonstration that Ronduin did in the story.
A request to parents and teachers: I have no way of knowing whether teachers and parents are continuing to find this story useful. I do see some statistics on my WordPress site, but these don’t include readers who get the chapters by email and they don’t differentiate ongoing readers from someone who just clicked on a chapter and then did not develop an ongoing connection to the story. If you have now read all 19 chapters, please consider helping me gauge ongoing interest by commenting below with the name of your country and the number of children who are joining us for the story. Thank you!
Here is the portal to Chapter 20 https://childrengrowing.com/2020/05/04/the-secret-prince-chapter-20-mirabels-house/