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The princess and the pea

To show that even when we fail to come up to the standards we or other people set for us, we are still special and unique.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To show that even when we fail to come up to the standards we or other people set for us, we are still special and unique.

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask the children how they might be able to tell a true prince or princess. Talk about palaces, riches, public appearances, etc.
  2. Read or tell the story The Princess and the Pea. You could also give a brief introduction to Hans Christian Andersen and his stories.

    Talk about the idea behind the story: that a true princess would be so used to a perfectly soft bed that even a small pea under many layers would stop her from sleeping!

    Discuss whether a princess really could pass a test like that?
  3. Talk about the tests that we face in life and at school. Ask some children to share which ones they find easier, which ones they find most difficult. You could talk about examinations, of course, but also tests such as trying something new or meeting new people or stretching your abilities in some area or other.

    Ask the children if they think this might be true for adults too. A couple of teachers could be prompted to share an easy/hard test that they have faced.
  4. Explain that in a test what is important is being true to ourselves, being the best we can be. It might not necessarily mean that we always pass. Sometimes we don't come up to a standard someone has set us. Sometimes we don't come up to a standard we have set ourselves. Sometimes this can make us feel badly about ourselves.

    Sometimes it may not be that we need to change but that the test and the standards are wrong. Was the test of sleeping on a pea really a good one to find out about a person?

Time for reflection


Ask the children to think about the following in quietness for a few minutes:

If the princess had failed the test, would she have stopped being a princess?

If I fail a test at school or elsewhere, does that change who I am?



Dear God,

Thank you that we are very special to you and that nothing can change that.

We are not special because of what we can do, or become, or achieve.

We are special to you because you made us and you love us.

Help us to be the very best we can be, but never to forget that we will always be loved by you.



‘God who made the earth’ (Come and Praise, 10)

Publication date: February 2008   (Vol.10 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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