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.

monkey-playing001

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 Upside-down Cake, A story about kindness and empathy for children of 5 to 8 years

The Upside Down Cake

Upside-down cake painted

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 2Upside-down cake painted

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.

 

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.’

Questions
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?

The Fight Within- a woman discovers she has cancer. Therapeutic short story.

The Fight Within.

A requested story for a friend of HT

 

Mary couldn’t sleep. It was still dark outside, no sounds came through her closed curtains ; the world had not yet stirred. Mary’s mind was in turmoil. Now she knew for sure what she had suspected for some weeks. It was cancer. The wait after the test over a weekend had felt like forever. She had thought over her entire life remembering all the good bits and the bad, wondering if something she had done could have created this lump in her body.

Mary’s family were not yet fully grown, they still needed their mother. They were learning to become independent, but she felt they still needed a lot of support. Her husband Robert would be all right. Always independent, doing his own thing, he wouldn’t suffer if she went , she thought. Her life had not been quite what she had hoped for so far. She was more of a reactor then an instigator. Life had happened to her rather than she had made it happen. She had not been ambitious and had not made demands on her family. Rather the opposite was true, they had made demands on her and she had complied. What should a mother do other than look after her kids? She fetched and carried them , she gathered up their dirty washing strewn on the floor and dealt with it. She cooked their favourite meals and often felt they might show more consideration and gratitude. She was tired of nagging them; it seemed easier just to do everything herself. She had not insisted that they thanked her for the meals she carefully prepared for them or for keeping the home nice. They were oblivious to her need for recognition and she wasn’t about to tell them how she felt.

Mary thought about how she would do things differently if she survived this. She told herself that the statistics were good these days. Doctors were much more on top of cancer. Most people survived it. Strangely, the idea of telling her family that she wanted more help and appreciation was more daunting to her than telling them that she had cancer. It almost felt like a weakness in her, yet she knew it was not. Her weakness had been in letting them all do exactly what they wanted, without insisting on some return, which would make her life easier and more pleasant. They were not bad kids, they were just selfish and oblivious to a different and better way to behave. It had been her duty and her husband’s to guide the children and they had not. Her husband had grown used to her saying ‘Oh, I don’t mind’, and it had suited him to believe her. He did not take his fair share of parental duties, but as she did not complain, he continued to ignore the situation.

The small knot of resentment had grown and now she had cancer. She had heard that stress can cause all sorts of ills, including cancer, and suddenly she wondered if her bitterness was showing up in her body. It was time to shake up her life. She needed new goals and she needed help to achieve them. The only person who could change things for her was herself. She saw it now. Taking the line of least resistance was not an option now. She made a list of things that would have to change, it was not a long list, but it was a very important one.

Mary stuck the list on the fridge door with a magnet and went back to bed and slept. The following day was a Sunday. Normally she would be the one to get up and make the breakfast. On this day she slept on. At 10 o’clock her husband appeared with tray, on it was a pot of tea and some toast with butter and marmalade. He looked sheepish and embarrassed.

‘Oh, thank you Robert. I thought you were off to golf this morning.’ she said.

Mary’s son and daughter appeared at the door. They looked upset and worried . ‘Hello Mum,’ was all they could say.

Robert reached into into his back pocket and took out Mary’s fridge list. He put it on the tray, Mary noticed ticks on all the items, they looked like marks of agreement. The family had at last come together and had seen what needed to be done for their mum.

‘I’m going to fight it,’ said Mary, ‘but I don’t want to have to fight you too. Thanks for the ticks. Promise me that you’ll remember to go along with it? It is fair enough, isn’t it? All I want to do is to be able to train as…. an astronaut. …That’s not too much to ask, is it? ‘

Her smile told them they were forgiven and she hoped that all their tears were a promise of the help and support she needed.

 

 

A young man learns to meditate (A story on the benefits of meditation)

When I was a young man I had a family – my mother and father, my wife and two sons and a little daughter.  My wife’s parents also lived nearby.  We were what you might call ‘close knit’.  Our house was not very large and it was hard to get away from other people.  Indeed if one tried to do that others might ask:

“What is wrong with you today?  You are not talking to anyone.  You are looking grim!” and so on.

I have always been a person who enjoys my own space.  Certainly I wanted my children to be happy.  Of course I wanted to please my wife, but I would find the pressures of all these conversations expected of me too great.  I needed time for myself.

One day I took myself for a walk just to get a bit of peace.  With all the hustle and bustle of the city this is somewhat hard to do.  However there is always peace to be had at the Temple.  As I was taking my shoes off before entering, I noticed a man sitting cross legged and looking very peaceful beside the line of shoes.  He was not paying any attention to all the comings and goings.  I could see that his eyes were open but that he was looking at nothing.  He looked perfectly contented.  I have occasionally had my shoes stolen from outside the temple so I wondered if I dared to disturb him to ask him to watch my shoes.  I became quite agitated trying to make the decision.  He continued to look ahead, a benign, peaceful expression on his face.  His eyes did not turn to me although it must have been clear to him that I was there and that I wanted to speak.  I decided to risk leaving my shoes without his protection.

I entered the temple.  It was calm and quiet inside, but my mind was still in turmoil.  How long could I allow myself the luxury of this quiet place?  Would my shoes be stolen?  Would my wife be cross with me when I got home?  Had I forgotten to do some little chore for her?  Would my mother chide me on my return for some act of omission on my part? And so on. After twenty minutes or so I went out into the busy street again.  The sounds of the traffic and the people assailed my ears.

The meditating gentleman was still there, looking calm and beneficent as before.  I found my shoes and left.

On my way home I hatched a plan.  I would tell my family that I was going to become a yogi.  Not in a big way.  I was not going to strip down to a loin cloth and go and live in the mountains.  I was going to become a yogi for twenty minutes a day, at home in my own bedroom.  No-one must speak to me during that time.  Whatever they wanted it would have to wait.  I was going to learn to sit still and quiet until I could feel on the inside what that old yogi at the temple showed on the outside.

My family thought it rather a strange that I would want to do this, but as it is not unheard of in our country, they accepted my desire to meditate.  It took me a while to learn how to do it.  I did take some advice on the subject.  I just thought about my breath and the ‘prana’ or energy flowing into my body every time I breathed in. Gradually I learnt to notice when I was not thinking about my breath.  I began to recognise ‘other’ or distracting thoughts, and having recognised them, I stopped thinking them.  My mind gradually became calmer.  This calmness overflowed into my daily life.  I felt less pressured by all the people and the demands of life and work.  My sense of humour returned.  My wife said I wasn’t bad tempered any more.  My boys started to have proper conversations with me instead of always whining and asking for things.  Even my mother in law smiled indulgently at me and called me ‘our guru’.

It wasn’t until much later in my life that I started thinking about the state of my body, and how yoga could address that problem as well.  But at least working on my mind through meditation had given me a sense of peace and balance, and in fact my wife decided to meditate too and our family life was immeasurably improved.

Law Number 12: Love your Life…Story from North American Indian Lore, for age 10 to adult

This story was given to me in meditation by an ancient Indian Chief, ‘Calling Horse’.

Love your Life, Perfect Your Life, Beautify all Things in Your Life, Glory in Your Strength and Beauty

This Law was unspoken ‘common sense’ in most tribes, but some would quote it often.

 

Everyone knew the uplifting benefits of making an effort to produce beautiful artifacts, be they clothing, tents, tools or pots.All were appreciated both by the maker and the user, if true skills and craftsmanship were used in their making.

 

Likewise when people made an effort with their appearance, they could hold their heads up high.They were clean and handsome and admirable.A child would adore its parents and would wish to copy their sheen and style.Parents would train their offspring in the traditions of producing the clothing of their tribe.

 

I can tell you a story about a couple in my tribe, her name was Blue Bird and his, Red Fox.Their families used to joke about their possible betrothal.‘Will Red Fox catch the Blue Bird?’ they would ask.

Blue Bird’s family said she would not willingly be plucked of her feathers, as she was a strong and willful girl.However Red Fox was determined to catch her and for her to be pursuing him in the chase.He thought if she chased him, he would be able to agree, but if he chased her, being stubborn, maybe she never would give in.

 

It was a time of feasting, spring was in the air and several young braves had love and pursuit on their minds.So indeed did the young unmarried girls in the tribe.There were four braves and five girls all hoping for a match.This meant that one of the girls was going to be disappointed.Blue Bird was determined that it would not be her.

 

Over the winter when there was less to do by way of gathering plants, she made a special effort with her clothing.She carefully dyed the skins and cut and shaped them so perfectly that the other girls came to ask her to show them how to produce the same effects.She helped them, but she did not give away all of her secrets.Her grandmother had told her: ‘Some things must be kept in the family and handed down, mother to daughter, father to son. Not everyone needs know about your skills and techniques.It is not a matter of life or death whether you can look more handsome than the others in the tribe, but it will help you to secure the husband you desire.’

 

Blue Bird knew her grandmother was right.She showed the other girls how to dye their clothing, but she did not tell them quite all of the herbs that she used.She showed them how to create patterns on their tents, but she did not share her very finest needles and yarn with them.

 

When the feasting began the young men held competitions to show who was the strongest.She noticed that Yellow Cloud had the most stunning headdress and clothing, and that he seemed to be performing for her.She watched Red Fox out of the corner of her eye.She had always admired him but did not want to let him know, until the moment she saw him dancing towards another young girl known as Prairie Flower. A feeling arose in her which she hardly recognised.It was a feeling of panic and fear of the loss of him. She walked quickly to her tent, her eyes brimming.Her grandmother had been watching the proceedings. She knew exactly what was in the girl’s heart.

 

‘Be proud but be clever,’ said her grandmother.‘Stand behind Prairie Flower, not too close, and hold this token in your hand, almost as if you were offering it to him.Look at him; do not take your eyes off him.He will come to you.When he does, give it to him, touch his hand and look into his face.Then he will know that you have chosen him, and indeed that he has chosen you.’

 

Blue Bird took the token and walked proudly into a space behind Prairie Flower. Her black hair glinted in the sunlight, her garments draped over her shapely figure in the most flattering way. She looked at Red Fox, how strong and graceful he was! He might not be the most handsome young man, nor the best dressed, but she knew he was kind and amusing, strong and brave. She would be happy with him. She caught his eye. Not looking away she lifted the love token almost imperceptibly towards him. He did not need a second invitation.With a huge leap of joy and triumph he left the dancing braves and swept Blue Bird off her feet. They both shrieked with laughter as he carried her around the dancing circle. Soon all the young men were carrying a maiden. Only Prairie Flower sat alone, a single tear coursing down her cheek. One of the boys too young to take a wife respectfully approached her.

‘Prairie Flower, next year I will be choosing a wife, and if you would like to wait for me I would like to choose you.’

 

The girl’s father came over and said, ‘There is plenty of time for you to find a husband, Prairie Flower, and plenty of time for you to learn how to beautify yourself and your home. Go and talk to Blue Bird, she obviously knows a thing or two.’

 

‘Yes, Father,’ replied the young girl. ‘I shall continue to enjoy my life in your tent. I am not unhappy that I was not chosen. Next year my hair and my dress will be as beautiful as Blue Bird’s, and I will decorate your tent so that it rival’s the Chief’s tepee.’

 

‘You are a wise girl,’ said her father.‘Others may have entertained jealousy and anger in their hearts, but you know how to perfect your life with love and acceptance. Your mother has taught you well.’

‘Love your Life, Perfect Your Life, Beautify all Things in Your Life, Glory in Your Strength and Beauty

calling-horse-law-12-life-cropped1

 

Be Chaste in Your Thoughts and Your Deeds (Law 7, North American Indian Tradition)

BE CHASTE IN THOUGHT AND DEEDS
BY CALLING HORSE

It was our custom and indeed a very important rule of the Great Spirit that we should honour our bodies and those of other people. This meant that while it was all right to fall in love and commit ourselves to another, one had to be careful. One had to be very cautious about sexual activity because it leads to pregnancy and to all sorts of feelings of the heart. It could lead to jealousy, or even to murder.


I remember a time when a beautiful young woman, the partner of a great brave, had her head turned by another young man. This relationship started quite innocently, but soon the two would be getting together at every opportunity, often alone. It became clear to the husband that his wife’s attention was no solely for him. Others had started to make comments to him. 

One day he followed his wife on her way to the river with her friends to do the washing. He saw her slip away into the forest. He waited quietly and after a few minutes she was followed by the young man in question. Both then disappeared into the bushes.

The two disappeared into the bushes

The two disappeared into the bushes

Our brave could scarcely contain his fury. He decided to wait until they emerged from the undergrowth. Some time later his wife reappeared rather dishevelled and alone. When she saw him she jumped , but managed to smile fairly convincingly at him.

‘Hello my beauty,’ said he. I thought you would be at the river, washing!’


’Well I’
m just going now. I had to answer a call of nature.’


‘Well .
how about answering a call of nature with me then ?’ said he, as he drew her towards him.

’No, no, not now, later, tonight, there is no time now, someone might pass us.’

‘Yes, and I know who. I can smell him on your body. It is true that the river will wash him from your skin, but it will not wash his baby from your womb. Go from me. He can have you now. I don’t want you any more.’

No amount of pleading would change the brave’s mind. The other young man was not really interested in having the girl as his wife and she had to move back with her own family, a great disgrace. No one wanted to know her as a wife except for an older man whose wife had died. She resisted his invitations for several years, but eventually became his wife and looked after him in his old age. She never bore any children.

Her husband left the tribe to wander the plains alone. Finally he joined up with another tribe and found himself another partner, not as beautiful as the first but more faithful. She adored him and bore him two sons and a daughter. They named the daughter after his first wife, unbeknown to his second wife, because although he could not bear to live with her, he loved her still and separating from her had left a great hole in his heart. His wife could never understand his moods of great sadness, but he never burdened her with these memories. She and the children were happy to have a strong, kind and dutiful husband and father.