The Prince and The Pea… (not the helpless little princess)

This is one of the stories in our First Grade Curriculum currently being developed.

You may remember the tale of The Princess and The Pea. We have adapted it to now be The Prince and The Pea. How does it feel reading this story from a different perspective for you as an adult? Consider the messages our society sends to our children about gender roles on an ongoing basis, even through fairy tales. Dig deep within yourself and tailor your stories, your example and your messages in a way you feel most appropriate for the lessons you wish to teach your family and your child.

As we were developing our curriculum, we truly struggled with how often women were being portrayed as helpless… how often they were required to be attractive to be desirable .. and how the tales seemed to always make the happy ending be when a man came to save her.

We decided to put a bit of a twist on some of these classic fairy tales to balance and fit a society that should strive harder to see both women and men as equals. In this particular twist, our princess knows just what she wants.

You can enhance this story with simple pieces of fabric and a pea. Layer them one by one as the queen does over the pea.

The Prince and The Pea

~Adapted from the original Princess and The Pea by Hans Christian Andersen

Once upon a time there was a princess who decided she wanted to marry a prince; but he would have to be a REAL and handsome prince if she was to decide to marry him. She told her brothers that she may be in the market and they travelled all over the world to find one for her, but nowhere could they find a prince worthy of their sister’s requests. There were princes enough, but it was difficult to find out whether they were real ones and worthy of her love. There was always something about them that was not as it should be. So, when her brothers returned with the bad news, the princess was disappointed but kept herself interested in other things as most princess do, although she would have liked very much to have a real prince.

One evening a terrible storm came on; there was thunder and lightning, and the rain poured down in torrents. Suddenly a knocking was heard at the city gate, and the old king and his sons went to open it.

It was a prince standing out there in front of the gate. He was cold and helpless and good gracious what a sight the rain and the wind had made him look. The water ran down from his hair and clothes; it ran down into the toes of his shoes and out again at the heels. And yet he kept insisting that he was a real prince.

Well, we’ll soon find that out if he is a real prince or not, thought the old queen. But she said nothing, went into the bedroom, took all the bedding off the bedstead, and laid a pea on the bottom; then she took twenty mattresses and laid them on the pea, and then twenty eiderdown beds on top of the mattresses.

On this the prince had to lie all night. In the morning he was asked how he had slept.

“Oh, very badly!” said he. “I have scarcely closed my eyes all night. Heaven only knows what was in the bed, but I was lying on something hard, so that I am black and blue all over my body. It’s horrible!”

Now they knew that he was a real prince because he had felt the pea right through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eiderdown beds.

Nobody but a real prince could be as sensitive as that.

So, the princess agreed to take him for her husband, for now she knew that she had a real prince as she wanted; and the pea was put in the museum, where it may still be seen, if no one has stolen it.

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