The Elephant Man. A story about being helpful, for children from 5-9 years

The Elephant Man

Usha’s mum was a busy woman.  She worked on the market stall selling the greens and fruit that grew on the family’s piece of ground.  Usha was a dreamy girl.  She went to the market to help her mum, but she preferred to watch everything that was going on around her.  Her job was to look after the baby.  When he cried she had to feed him.  She had to make sure the flies did not settle on him when he was asleep.

There was one customer who was her very favourite person.  He was the mahout.  She called him ‘the elephant man’.  He used to come to her mum’s stall to buy his fruit and vegetables.  He loved babies and would always tickle the baby under his chin and make him laugh.  He was a very small man and quite wrinkled, and he could climb like a monkey because he was always having to climb up onto his elephants’ necks to take them to work.  He used to like telling stories to Usha.

One day Usha’s mum was cross with her because the flies were on the baby and he was upset. The elephant man turned up to find both Usha and the baby crying.

“What’s this, what’s this?”  he asked.

“She’s a naughty girl.  She’s not helping me with the baby.  I need help, I can’t do everything myself!” said Usha’s mum.

“Now, now, don’t cry any more.  You cuddle the baby and I will tell you a story about my lovely most helpful elephant.” said the mahout.

The elephant man climbed up on a pile of boxes and sat perched up on top with his legs crossed.  Some other children noticed and came over to listen too.  Everyone liked the elephant man’s stories.  He spoke in a loud voice so everyone could hear.

“I’ll tell you about Rani.  When she was a young elephant her mum had a baby.  Rani could tell that the baby needed lots of help.  It was very small and could get trampled on by the bigger elephants.  Rani always made sure that the baby was between her and its mum, that way Baby would not get squashed.

The time came for Rani’s mother  to get back to work.  She had to pull logs on the plantation.  She was taken out of the elephant compound and led away by the mahout.  By this time Baby was bigger and eating grass and other green stuff.  When he saw his mum disappearing into the distance, he started to trumpet as loudly as he could.  His mother replied with one quick “Taraaa!” but she didn’t look back.  She knew Rani was there to look after Baby.  Rani laid her trunk over Baby’s back and gently rubbed him.  Then she took some tasty greens and passed them to Baby.  Baby stopped crying and ate a leaf.  I was so pleased with Rani that day.  I was in charge of all the elephants who were not working, and I was worried about Baby being upset when his mum went away.  It’s not good having upset elephants.  I did think that as Rani was such a helpful elephant, she would probably look after her little brother, and I was right.  All the elephants stayed quiet and calm that day which was a good thing for me, don’t you think?

And what about you lot, are you helpful to your mums and dads?  I hope so!” said the mahout as he looked round at all the children.  With that he picked up his sack of vegetables and disappeared between the stalls.

Usha thoughtfully rocked the baby who was smiling now.  “I want to be as helpful as Rani,” she said to her mum.

“That’s very good to hear, Usha, and I’m sure you can be!” said her mum.


Does the story remind you of anything in your life?

Who do you think was  most helpful in the story,

was it Usha, Rani the big sister elephant, or the elephant man?

Why do you think that?

Do you try to be helpful?  How?

If you are helpful to others, do you think they might be helpful to you?

If you are not helpful, do think others will feel like helping you?

What would it be like if nobody was helpful?

What would it be like if everyone was helpful?


Popple and the Golden Jelly Spoon (A fairy story for little ones)

Popple and the Golden Jelly Spoon


This is a story about Popple and the fairies. Popple is a pig with wings. He lives with his mum in a sty at Blackberry Farm. His mum isn’t sure how he came to have wings as she doesn’t have any and neither does his dad. She wondered if the fairy folk had anything to do with it. He kept his wings folded up on his back in the daytime. Nobody really noticed them. They just thought he had rather a baggy jumper on. At night when everyone was asleep Popple would shake out his wings and go for a lovely fly with his fairy friends.

One day fairy Juniper said it was her birthday and she wanted to do something special to celebrate. She invited Popple to a swimming party at the fairy pool. Lots of fairies would be there but Popple would be the only pig. He said he didn’t mind.

Popple and Juniper flew off out of Popple’s bed-sty window to fairyland. It was dark in Pigland but it was bright as day in fairyland. At the pool everyone was lying in the warm moonlight, moonbathing. The light was silvery, not yellow like sunlight. All the fairies had shimmery swimming costumes. Popple was embarrassed because he didn’t have a swimming costume and he started to cry. Juniper said that pigs didn’t wear swimming costumes, only fairies and people did, and he mustn’t get upset.

Popple soon cheered up when he discovered that his wings made a lovely boat for the fairies to sit on in the water. He floated around while fairies floated on and off his boat wings. Suddenly there was a plop and a loud wail. One of the fairies’ children was crying out. He had dropped his golden jelly spoon into the water and it had disappeared. Everyone swam to the edge of the pool to think about what to do. None of the fairies could swim underwater, and Popple had never tried.

“Boo-hoo, my golden jelly-spoon ‘s gone!” wailed little Fig.

“I told you not to take it into the pool with you.” said his mum.

Then Popple had an idea. He would see if he could walk along the bottom of the pool and find the spoon with his trotters.

He tried hard to sink his legs to the bottom, but his wings kept floating out sideways, keeping his feet well away from the bottom of the pool.

“What we need is some string,” said Popple.

One of the fairies’ mums had a ball of knitting wool. “Will this do?” she asked.

Popple got the fairies to wind the wool round and round his body to hold his wings down tightly. They were not very good at tying knots, but at last it was done. Then Popple tiptoed into the water. He took a big breath and dived down into the pool. There on the bottom he saw the jelly spoon. He picked it up in his mouth and swam to the surface again. Everyone cheered.


Popple returned the spoon to little Fig who was jumping up and down with delight.

Popple was a hero. The fairies handed him the biggest slice of birthday cake imaginable. Popple thought he would have a quick fly over the pool to show off his flying skills. He spread his wings out. They felt rather heavy. Oh dear, he couldn’t flap them at all. Popple’s wings were waterlogged. Whatever could he do? He had to fly back home before sunrise, but his wings were too full of water to flap.

Now it was the fairies’ turn to help Popple. They all picked up their towels and came over to him and started rubbing his wings dry. Some fairies turned their backs towards him and flapped their wings really fast, to make a draught like little hairdryers. After a few minutes they asked Popple to try flying again.

This time, up he went, whoosh.

“Thank you, fairies!” he shouted, “Bye for now,” and he flew off home to Pigland just in time for morning.

The End

Thank you to Aoife who sent me this lovely picture of Popple in a real boat.  I hope you all like it.  I do!

aoifes popple and the golden jellyspoon

Popple in his real boat

By Aoife Hillman