The Circus Comes to Town – story on gratitude and jealousy for 7-11years

A Story on Gratitude and Jealousy

The Circus Comes to Town

I was sitting on my front door step feeling very sorry for myself.  My mother said I should stop sulking.  My father just gave me a dirty look and went on with his work.

My brother Peter has a friend who lives down the road and he had invited Peter to go to the circus because it was his birthday.  I was not invited.

The circus!  I would love to see the circus.  How exciting.  I’ve seen pictures of people on high wires and trapezes.  I’ve seen photos of clowns and seen them on TV, but I was not invited to go.  Sometimes life just doesn’t seem fair.  I felt two big fat tears running down my cheeks.

My grandma appeared at the front door.  Grandma usually had a bit of time to spend with me.  I stood up and gave her a tearful hug.

‘What’s the matter my Chickadee?’  she asked.  ‘ Has the dog died?’

We didn’t have a dog.  We had no dog to die and she knew we didn’t like dogs anyway.  She made me smile.

‘I’m not invited to the circus with Peter and Rubin and I really, really want to go.’

‘Oh dear, that’s a pity.  It’s Rubin’s birthday isn’t it?  Well I expect boys of ten don’t want girls of seven at their birthday party trip.  Did you invite Rubin to your birthday treat when you went to the cinema?  Did you invite Peter?  No, I don’t think you did.  I remember you saying it was girls only.’

‘ Yes, but that was only to the cinema.  We could go to the cinema any time, but the circus, it doesn’t come very often does it?’

‘It will come again next year  Chickadee, and you will enjoy it all the more, because at your age now you may be frightened by what you seem to see.  When I was your age I went to the circus and I saw a clown lose his head in the piano.  He popped his head into the top of the piano to look  inside it and another clown slammed the lid down on him.  He came up with no head at all!

The clown's head seemed to have been chopped off.

The clown’s head seemed to have been chopped off.


I was very upset, but the audience thought it was a great joke.    I just hid my face and didn’t watch any more clowning.  I didn’t know it was just a trick; the clown  seemed to be running around headless!  It wasn’t until several long dragon puppets appeared with two people inside each one, tossing and twirling the dragons, that I came out of hiding.’

‘Now let’s think about the circus trip that you are not going on,’  Grandma continued, ‘Be grateful for  what you have in your life.   There will always be someone who does more or has more than you.  So what?  That is not a problem.  Would you want another little girl to be complaining to her mother that she doesn’t have exactly the same as you?  No, of course not!  Let us all enjoy what we do have and let others do the same without us feeling upset about it.  It’s called envy, or jealousy, when we feel bad like that.  It is a bit like a sickness – they say people go green with envy.  They don’t of course, but it can make you feel horrible and it is not healthy for your mind to be filled with envy.  Now go and wash your face and wash all that greenness away, it’s not doing you any good at all!’

Grandma was right of course.  I always noticed when I was beginning to feel jealous about something. I remembered Grandma’s words and stopped those thoughts before they made me feel bad.


Did the story remind you of anything in your life?

Why was the girl upset at the beginning of the story?

Have you ever felt envious of someone?  What was the reason?  What do you think about it now that you have heard this story?

Has anyone been jealous of you? How do you know?

What do people who are jealous sometimes do?

What does it mean to be ‘grateful’ for something?


Fish and Rice ( a story about self control and gratitude for children age 6 – 10 years)

Fish and Rice

Fish and Rice pic 2

I come from that great country in a large corner of the world called China.  I remember sitting at my grandmother’s feet when I was a young girl.  She would tell me stories about her life when she was a girl.  Her parents worked in the fields. Life was very hard for them, but although they were poor, they were happy.

Everyone was the same. They all worked hard in the fields and ate only fish and rice every day. If someone managed to catch a bird, it was a day of celebration. Another family would be invited to join in with the meal. They ate snakes too, when they found them.

Grandmother had few toys, Her mother made her a rag doll and her father made a little wooden bed for it to sleep in. Any other toys were just pieces of broken crockery, or kitchen tools or containers which had to be given back to be used to prepare the fish and rice.

Grandma had a friend who lived nearby. Her name was Lin. The two girls made up stories about adventures on their horses. Pieces of rope were tied to their imaginary horses and off they would gallop to far away places, where they could find beautiful jewels in caves to bring home to make their parents rich. They thought that if they were rich they would be able to eat the kinds of things that kings and princes ate, which certainly wouldn’t be fish and rice.

One winter the snow came early and stayed for a very long time. Everyone had their stores of rice in sacks, kept safely away from rats and mice. Their dried and salted fish was hung high, near the ceiling.  Grandma’s mother was worried that there would not be enough food to last the winter. The rice was lasting out well, but the fish was nearly used up.  Soon most of the meals were made from rice alone.  The fish was all but finished and then it was gone. Grandma began to realise that she actually loved to eat fish. The rice was so plain without it. She complained to her mother. She said that she did not like to eat rice without fish.

Fish and Rice pic 2

Her mother came and sat beside her.

“Rice is very good for us. It keeps us alive. We must be grateful that we have rice to eat. Some people have no fish and no rice at all. How do you think they feel? They must be very hungry. We must be happy because we are not hungry.”

“But I am tired of rice.” Grandma had said.

“You must learn to control yourself and not complain about things that cannot be changed. You will just feel bad and make other people unhappy too. You do not want to make you father unhappy, do you? If he sees you smiling and eating your rice, he will be happy, because you are not moaning! He is grateful that we still have rice. He can smile about that and so can I. You must learn to smile about your plain rice too.

I asked my grandma if she ever did learn to smile about plain rice. She nodded her head.

“My friend, Lin’s family had no fish and no rice. They came to share our rice until winter was over.  That made me very happy – to be able to give them rice, so that they would not starve. I never complained again. I was very grateful to have enough to eat – and I was happy to share it.”


1.       How did you feel when you heard the story?

2.       Did it remind you of anything in your own life?

3.       What toys did Grandma play with as a child in China?

4.       What food did they have to eat?

5.       What food did they have in the winter?

6.       What important thing did Grandma learn from her experience as a child?


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