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.
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.
Many thanks to Joel Aragón Colín who is translating the story into Spanish and to Phan Lê Minh who is translating the story into Vietnamese. Also, a volunteer has offered to translate The Secret Prince into Russian!
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/
Also, you might want to sign up to receive an email with the full text of each chapter when it is posted on this blog.
A note for parents and teachers: You will find a few places in this story that could be expanded into conversations, activities or lessons. It’s wonderful when the children are inspired to do such activities without prodding! How have you set the stage for your child to take initiative?
Some follow up ideas:
- Explore the history of yokes to carry buckets and of drinking horns
- Jump rope times tables
- Figure out how many jugs of water were put under the table
- Look at the inside seam in clothing to see how it was sewn inside out. Make a bean bag filled with beans or dried peas
- Pour water or small items through funnels
Ronduin did what he did every morning. He woke up and looked out the window. He gazed across the wide lake that hid the fields. He imagined Mirabel’s house in the forest. He found his inside out trousers and brought them to the window where he admired his mother’s tiny stitches before he turned them right side out and put them on along with his linen shirt.
Next, Ronduin tied his jump rope around his waist and picked up the food bucket and the water jug. He found his way to the balcony to feed his chickens. Sunset ran to the far end of the balcony the second Ronduin walked through the door. But, Sunrise always came right to him and, as usual, allowed him to hold her. He dumped their water, filled their food bowl and placed some straw and two perfect eggs in the bucket.
When he returned to the hallway, Ronduin put the bucket and the jug on the floor. Then he untied the jump rope and jumped and jumped and jumped some more. He jumped by 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s and 6’s and thought about learning 7’s. Next, Ronduin wove his way through the third floor hallway and the second floor hallway and went down the stone stairs to the first floor. Here, he checked the water level. He noticed it was at the same level as the day before and the day before that. It had stopped rising but had not yet begun to fall.
Next, Ronduin joined his parents and Cook Agnes in the new kitchen. Here they ate porridge and drank water from drinking horns that had once been the horns on cattle.
Then they talked about their tasks for the day. Ronduin said, “I have to bring new straw to the chickens.” The Queen said, “Your father and I will go to the well for water. We are blessed with a well that is in the castle. The well in the village is underwater and Sir Andrew must carry water from the well at Ricard’s house to all the homes in the village. Ronduin, please stay here until we return with the buckets of water. We will need your help to pour the water into the jugs.”
The King and Queen left to draw water from the well. Ronduin stayed in the new kitchen with Cook Agnes. He reached into his pocket and took out his almost completed project: two squares of red cloth sewn together.
“Can you spare some pease for my throwing sack?” he asked, showing Cook Agnes his carefully stitched square.
“Certainly,” said Cook Agnes. “Take all you need from this big sack.”
“Thank you,” said Ronduin opening the sack of dried pease.
Ronduin reached his hand deep into the bag of pease and pulled out a few handfuls of little round orbs and half orbs. He placed these in a bowl. Now, he looked at the pease in the bowl in one hand and at the small square sack in his other hand. How, he wondered, would get the pease through the small hole in the sack.
“Are you going to turn it before you fill it?” asked Cook Agnes.
“What do you mean?” asked Ronduin.
“It will look nicer if you turn it inside out,” she said.
Ronduin understood what she meant right away. He remembered the careful stitching he had noticed on his trousers. He knew from looking at them closely that his trousers had been sewn while the inside was on the outside. Then, when the sewing was done, all of the raw edges were hidden when the visible stitching was turned to the inside.
“It would make the sack look better, to put the seams on the inside, just like my trousers,” said Ronduin, “but I only left a small part of the seam unsewn.”
Cook Agnes handed Ronduin a wooden spoon with a long, narrow handle. “You can use this to push the cloth through the opening,” she said.
Ronduin held the opening in one hand and pushed a bit of cloth through it. Slowly, bit by bit, with the help of the spoon, he was able to feed all of the cloth through the small hole. He took the sack and smoothed it on the table. It looked neat and tidy with the seams on the inside.
“Now, he thought, “I can fill it with pease.”
Ronduin reached into the bowl and took a pinch of about five pease. He poked these through the hole in the sack and then took another pinch. After adding many pinches of pease to the sack, he lifted it and noticed that it still felt almost as light as a feather.
“This will take me all day,” he thought. “How,” he wondered, “can I fill the sack faster?”
Just then he heard noises in the hallway and then the Queen and the King entered. Ronduin had never before seen either parent wearing a yoke across their shoulders. Now he was surprised to see that each of them wore a wooden yoke. At both ends of each yoke hung a bucket of water. Cook Agnes rushed to the Queen to help her set the buckets down slowly and carefully. Ronduin helped his father set his buckets on the floor.
Now Cook Agnes reached under the cooking table and pulled out a large, metal funnel. She placed the small end of the funnel into a jug and she held it in place as the Queen poured water into the jug. Ronduin brought an empty jug to his father and, when Cook Agnes was finished with the funnel, he took it and put the smaller end into the second jug and held it in place as his father poured water through it. Each bucket held enough water to fill three jugs. Ronduin set aside one jug to bring upstairs for water for the chickens and the remaining jugs were set under the cooking table.
And that’s when he saw something under the table looking dusty and forgotten: a drinking horn, broken on the pointy end. It was a broken kitchen item that had not yet been thrown away. But Ronduin, did not see something broken. He saw the perfect tool to solve his problem.
He carried the broken horn to the eating table. Here his incomplete project, a mostly empty red sack and bowl of pease waited for him. Ronduin lifted the sack and discovered that the broken, pointy end of the horn just fit into the small opening. Cook Agnes saw his plan right away. “Do you need some helping hands?” she asked.
Ronduin nodded and she took the red sack and the small end of the horn in her hands and held them together tightly.
“Ready?” asked Ronduin.
Cook Agnes nodded.
Ronduin slowly poured the pease from the bowl into the wide end of the horn where they slowly flowed through into the sack. Cook Agnes gave the horn a couple of shakes and then the sack was full of pease.
“That worked well,” said his mother.
“You’ve invented a funnel for pease,” said his father.
Here is the portal to Chapter 22: https://childrengrowing.com/2020/05/12/the-secret-prince-chapter-22-the-water-is-going-down/