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To show that we can learn by our mistakes.

by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To show that we can learn by our mistakes.

Preparation and materials


  1. Begin by telling the children that you are going to read (or tell) them a story. Tell them that it is a legend or folk tale that can be found in various forms (different versions) all over Europe. This version is from a place in Wales called Beddgelert in Snowdonia. For older children you might want to mention here or at the end that the story has been used as a publicity stunt by a local landlord to attract people to the area.

    A bad mistake
    There was once a prince called Llewellyn. He lived in a castle in the beautiful area of Snowdonia. He loved to go hunting with his dogs. His favourite hound, called Gelert, was getting too old to hunt all day so on one occasion the prince left the dog behind to guard his baby son.

    When he returned Gelert rushed out eagerly to meet his master. Llewellyn was horrified to see that the dog was covered in blood. He rushed into the castle to find his young son’s cradle overturned. There was blood everywhere but no sign of the baby. He was so angry that he drew his sword and plunged it deep into the dog’s heart, killing him.

    It was only then that he heard the baby’s cry. Pushing the cradle aside he found the young child unharmed. Close by was the body of a wolf. He suddenly realized what a dreadful mistake he had made. He carried the body of his dog and buried it in a public place so that everyone would know how brave and loyal Gelert had been. A monument can still be seen at Beddgelert to this day.
  2. Remind the children that this is a legend or folk tale and no one knows what, if any, truth is behind it. Discuss the story to make sure the children understand the dreadful mistake that Llewellyn made.
  3. Point out that we all make mistakes. Often it is because we reach the wrong conclusion (idea about something) without knowing all the facts. When we make mistakes in our work at school we can put them right by doing corrections. We can, in fact, learn by our mistakes and we should not worry about sometimes getting things wrong.

    Sometimes the hardest thing of all is admitting our mistakes. Sometimes we need to say sorry for them, especially if our mistake has hurt someone.
  4. Optional poem
    by Jan Edmunds

    We all make mistakes, be they big or small
    For errors are made by one and all.
    Don’t get upset if you get things wrong
    For putting things right really won’t take long.
    Admitting mistakes is the hardest to do
    And once that’s done you can start anew.
    So think before you do or say
    And that will keep mistakes at bay.

Time for reflection


Do you see mistakes as failure?

Or are they an opportunity to learn and do better next time?

Do you see saying sorry as a failure?

Or is it an opportunity to make up with friends and start again?


Dear God,

Help us to learn through our mistakes.

Teach us to know right from wrong so that we do not hurt others by what we say or do.

Give us the strength to cope when mistakes are made and help us to deal with them sensibly.



‘Guess how I feel’ (Come and Praise, 89)

Publication date: July 2006   (Vol.8 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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