Put a pebble in your pocket. Starr's kids did.

Image: Maggie, 4 years. Starr Campbell's school for young children.

Yesterday I read to a class of mostly 3 and 4 year olds and ended telling them a story called “A Pebble in my Pocket.”* It goes something like this:

Once upon a time there was a little girl (or maybe it was a little boy) who was having angry feelings. Mad, frustrated, stompy-feet, crabby apple feelings. Feelings that made her heart beat fast and cheeks rosy. Her mouth was scowled, eyes squinchy.  Mom said, “Maybe if you take your feelings outside, that might help.”

Little girl took her angry feelings outside. She looked up and saw an old man (or maybe it was an old woman) walking by.

“You look angry,” said the man.

“I am!” cried the girl, “I want to scream. My insides feel rude and messy.”

“Oh. I know that feeling. Sometimes I feel angry, too. Do you want to know what I do?”

“What?” Little girl watched as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pebble.

“See this pebble," said the man, "I hold it and take two deep breaths. I breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. Like this. Breathing in and out, I know I am taking care of my angry feelings.” Then he gave her a pebble. 

Little girl held the pebble and took a breath. Then another. She smiled a little and put the pebble in her pocket.  The old man walked on.

I pulled out a small box of pebbles and asked if anyone needed a pebble for their pocket to take care of crabby feelings. Into each hand, I placed a pebble. In the backyard afterward--Jilly said, “I needed this pebble yesterday.”

Before I left, I showed the children how to find a pebble incase they lost theirs.

Teacher Starr Campbell sent a message later in the day, “The pebbles are now scattered around the backyard, and we will have a hunt this afternoon. I sense that when we need them they will appear.”

*Story inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh's book, Pebble for Your Pocket.