Preface to Chapter 29
Children are facing a time of increased solitude. I am a retired teacher developing 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 many families are 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.
I hope you will join us as readers and perhaps even as collaborators.
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, sewing a bean bag, or making a map for example.
Many thanks to the collaborators who are translating this story: Joel Aragón Colín who is translating the story into Spanish, to Phan Lê Minh who is translating the story into Vietnamese and Tanya Kirilova Kothari who is translating The Secret Prince into Bulgarian! I am also grateful to Karah Pino who will continue as the author of Roland’s story and to Elliot Gardner who who as joined the team as my editorial assistant.
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/
Many families find that the easiest way to keep up with the story is to sign up as a follower of this blog on WordPress. Blog followers receive an email with the full text of each chapter when it is posted on this blog.
The Queen walked to the window and looked out toward Roland’s hill. Ronduin joined her and together they watched a cow walking slowly across the hillside.
“She’s far away, so I can’t tell for sure, but, from the way she moves, I’m guessing that cow will soon birth a calf,” said the Queen.”
“Now she’s lying down,” said Ronduin.
“Some cows rest often when they are near their birthing time,” said the Queen, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a handful of silky cloth.
“Now,” she said, “you’ll have to go to the sitting room soon to watch for smoke from Ricard’s house. So, let’s start your lesson.”
Ronduin watched as his mother pulled apart the small bundle of cloth and revealed three large squares of lightweight silk material. Two were red and one was blue.
“The first step is to learn to juggle these squares of silk,” she said.
“Not juggling balls?”
“Not yet,” said his mother. She tossed a red square into the air and let it drift slowly to her feet.
Ronduin picked it up and threw the red silk up and watched it float and land on the stone floor.
“Juggling balls move very fast,” said the Queen. “When we juggle with silk, everything moves more slowly because silk floats on the air and we get more time to learn. When I was little I tried juggling withUncle Cedric’s juggling balls. I practiced all of one winter while he was away. I hoped I could learn before he returned the next spring. But, when I next saw Uncle Cedric, I was still mostly dropping the juggling balls on the floor and picking them up again. Then he showed me how to juggle slowly with big, floating squares of silk. When I went back to using the juggling balls, I found I was much more skillful than I had been. After that I learned quickly.”
“First we’ll practice the basic pattern,” said Ronduin’s mother. She walked over to the window where a layer of dust had formed on the windowsill. She traced her finger through the dust.
“This is a forever sign,” she said as she kept running her finger around and around in a pattern that looked like this:
Now Ronduin traced his finger around the forever sign that she had made. The smooth, stone windowsill felt cold to the touch, but it warmed as his finger moved through the sideways 8 again and again. There was something about this shape that made him want to continue, to go around and around and around.
Ronduin’s mother was patient and she waited until he stopped tracing the forever shape.
“Now,” she said, “you know this shape well. Our next step is to learn how to make shape like this that moves in the air in front of our bodies with a piece of silk. Here, Ronduin, you take this red square and I’ll use a blue square.” She put the remaining red square in her pocket.
The Queen began tossing and catching the blue silk in the shape of the forever sign. “You make the forever sign in front of your body with the x right in the middle,” she said. “it looks like this,” she said as she demonstrated taking the scarf across her body with her right hand and throwing it upward so it rose higher than her left shoulder. She waited until it floated down to her left hand. Then she caught it and tossed it from her middle over toward her right ear.
“I’ll keep doing this,” she said, “while you try the same pattern with your red square.
Ronduin held the scarf near his middle then tossed it with his right hand upward toward his left ear. It flew higher than he expected and he reached up to catch it with his left hand. He paused and his mother said, “try to toss it without pausing as soon as it’s in your hand, and, when it goes high, try to let it float down to your hand instead of reaching up.”
Ronduin practiced for some time. He could see the forever shape in the rising and falling of the piece of silk. The feeling he had when making the forever shape on the windowsill came back to him. It was like he was caught up in something that would not let him go.
He started to think about this, about how he had been pulled into a mysterious, unstoppable pattern. He wondered how such a thing could happen. Then, unexpectedly, the red silk fell to the floor.
“I think it’s time for you to look for smoke from the sitting room,” said his mother. And I’m supposed to meet your father in the kitchen before we carry water. I think, in general, we should avoid practicing in the sitting room because your father goes in there quite often. But, I know we’ll be busy, so, feel free to practice while you look out the window for smoke.”
“So we won’t practice with three squares today?” asked Ronduin.
“Becoming an expert with only one piece of silk is the first step,” said the Queen. In the long run, you’ll be glad you took the time to perfect this.”
Here is the portal to Chapter 30 https://childrengrowing.com/2020/06/09/the-secret-prince-chapter-30-what-goes-up-must-come-down/
You too can learn how to juggle, beginning with a light piece of cloth such as silk. If you don’t have light weight fabric, you can use something they did not have in Ronduin’s world — a plastic grocery store bag that you cut into two pieces. Expert juggler, Jonah Ballin, will teach you how in this video:
Questions for parents and teachers:
As I post chapter 29, it is early June 2020. I have committed to posting chapters as long as children are stuck at home. Today, many countries are taking steps toward opening public spaces. This is happening as the school year is ending in much of the northern hemisphere.
So, here are a few questions I’m hoping each of you will answer:
— How many more weeks or months would you like this story to continue
–If you are a teacher ending the school year with a class, will you encourage families to continue with the story over the summer?
–If you are a parent in the northern hemisphere, are you likely to do less reading aloud over the summer?
— Overall, what are your wishes for the future of The Secret Prince story?
If I start an Instagram account for children’s artwork/activities related to The Secret Prince, would you post something?
You may answer in comments below or write to me at Kallsup@aol.com. Please write Secret Prince in the subject line.
Thank you for any feedback you can offer.