I. Read Perception story: Frogs And Newts Or Gold Coins
A. Teacher reads story to the class called “Frogs And Newts Or Gold Coins.”
B. Story Description: You each have a lot of personal power. The words you say are extremely powerful and have the power to harm or the power to heal or somewhere in between. This is illustrated in the story called “Frogs and Newts or Gold Coins.” It is adapted from a Grimm’s Fairy Tale that you will hear told as part of this story. Please sit back and enjoy “Frogs and Newts or Gold Coins.”
Frogs and Newts or Gold Coins
© 1999 by Debbie Dunn
Chapter 1: Derrick and Tonya wreak havoc in the house
Twelve-year-old Derrick yelled at his sister, Tonya, as loudly as he could, “You stinking brat! How dare you come into my room without permission!”
Eleven-year-old Tonya yelled back, “I’m not a brat. You are!” Then she started chanting, “You’re a brat! You’re a brat! You’re a big fat bully brat.”
Realizing that she had unconsciously come up with a sort of poem, she took great pleasure at chanting it again. “You’re a brat! You’re a brat! You’re a big fat bully brat.”
Derrick was incensed. He was a bit sensitive about his weight and didn’t want to be referred to as fat. He began to chase down his younger sister. Tonya ran away as fast as she could. She practically tumbled down the stairs in her haste to get away from him. They ran first into the living room and then into the kitchen.
There was Grandma placing a cookie tray with cookie dough on it into the oven to bake. She closed the oven door softly, turned around, and shook her head in wonderment. Then she looked under the table and chairs in a quite obvious manner. Derrick and Tonya stopped what they were doing to stare at Grandma Jenkins.
Tonya asked, “What are you looking for, Grandma?”
Grandma Jenkins said, “I be looking for those frogs and newts that must be coming out of your mouth.”
Derrick asked, “What are you talking about? There are no frogs or newts coming out of my mouth.”
“Mine either,” Tonya affirmed.
Grandma looked unconvinced. She asked: “Do you have a dry, chalky kind of taste in your mouth right now?”
After a bout of screaming, yelling, and running, they both had to admit that their mouths were tasting kind of dry and chalky.
Grandma Jenkins said, “That’s just what I thought. One or more of those frogs or newts must have escaped out of your mouth without you noticing. It’s too bad you chose to have those nasty-tasting things keeping company in your mouth and belly when you could have had gold coins coming out of your mouth instead.”
Neither Derrick nor Tonya knew what to think. This was very strange talk coming out of their grandmother’s mouth. Frogs? Newts? Gold coins? They didn’t have a clue what she meant.
Tonya was the first to ask, “Grandma Jenkins, I don’t get what you are talking about. I know I’ve never had a frog or newt coming out of my mouth or living in my belly. You’re just talking crazy.”
Just then the oven bell rang. Grandma Jenkins turned around, took the cookie tray out of the oven, and placed the pan of piping-hot chocolate chip cookies on the counter.
Grandma Jenkins went to the refrigerator, poured three glasses of ice cold milk, and placed those on the kitchen table. Then she scooped several cookies onto a large plate and put that in the middle of the table. “Just you sit yourself down, have some milk and cookies, and Grandma will tell you all about those two girls that went a visiting the three little gnomes.”
Derrick finally was catching on. He said, “Ah, Grandma. You’re just talking about those Grimm’s Fairy Tales, aren’t you? None of those stories are real. They’re every one of them made up.”
Grandma Jenkins said, “Don’t you be so sure of yourself, young Derrick. I’ve seen those frogs and newts coming out of your very mouth on any number of occasions. Every time you get that bad tarnished penny taste in your mouth, you can be sure you let fly another one of those words that cause those amphibians to come popping right out. You may not be able to see them, but you sure can taste them and see the aftereffects piling up around you.”
Tonya was quite curious now. She said, “Grandma, please explain yourself better. You have me totally confused.”
Grandma Jenkins said, “All right, child. I will tell you the story about the two girls and the three gnomes. Now to start off, let me remind you that you personally know quite a few women, including your aunt, who have been stepmoms who are the kindest, most loving of women. But those Grimm’s brothers never once met that kind of woman. Their stories are always full of mean-spirited stepmothers. Perhaps that was the style a long time ago. Today, we know differently.
Chapter 2: Two Girls and the Three Gnomes – A Grimm’s Fairy Tale re-told by Debbie Dunn
Once there were two friends. One friend had recently lost her father. That girl was plain to look at. The other friend had recently lost her mother. That girl was pretty as a picture. Regardless of their looks or lack of looks, the two girls spent time together quite frequently.
One day, the plain girl’s mother said, “Tell your father that I would like to marry him. If he’ll agree, I’ll always give you milk to wash in and milk to drink; whereas, my own daughter will only get water to wash in and water to drink.”
The pretty girl went home and told her father just that. Her father said, “Well, I don’t know, daughter. Marriage can be a mixed bag of blessings. Tell you what, take this old boot with a hole in the toe region. Carry it up to the attic, hang it on a peg, and pour water into it. If the water runs out the hole, marriage and I will have nothing to do with each other. However, if the water stays in the boot, I’ll take the chance of marrying your friend’s mother.”
The pretty girl did as she was instructed. She poured the water in. The water level rose and rose until the boot was completely full. The pretty girl called for her father, “Father, look. Not one drop has fallen out of the boot. It’s almost as if the hole was not really there.”
Her father said, “All right, daughter. I guess I better take that as a sign that I should marry again. Tell your friend’s mother to meet me at the church on Sunday, and we will be wed.”
His daughter did as she was instructed. Come Sunday, the wedding took place. All four of them moved in together.
On the first day, the woman kept her promise. The pretty girl was given milk to wash in and milk to drink. Her own daughter was given water to wash in and water to drink. The second day, both girls were given water to wash in and water to drink. On the third day, and for each day thereafter, the woman’s own daughter was given milk to wash in and milk to drink. On the other hand, the pretty girl was given water to wash in and water to drink, and that was the way the situation remained.
As time went on, when the woman couldn’t help observing how pretty was her new husband’s daughter and how plain, almost ugly, was her own daughter, she forged a terrible disliking for her stepdaughter.
One cold winter day, the stepmother gave her stepdaughter a paper dress to put on. Then she ordered, “Go into the forest and collect me a basket full of strawberries. I have a great longing to taste fresh strawberries again.”
The pretty girl said, “But stepmother, there is nothing but snow outside and no green things. It is impossible to find any strawberries growing in the middle of winter. Also, I will freeze to death wearing a dress made of paper.”
Her stepmother said, “Don’t you argue with me. Now go! Don’t return until you have gathered a basket full of strawberries.” Secretly, of course, the stepmother hoped that the pretty girl would freeze and starve to death so she would never have to lay eyes on her again.
The pretty girl was quite obedient. She entered the forest and searched diligently for strawberries.
Eventually, the shivering girl came upon a small house in the forest. She saw three little men, gnomes, in fact, who were staring out the window. They waved her inside and she gladly complied. Straight she went to the fireplace.
The men asked, “What are you doing out in this cold weather wearing such a dress as that?”
The pretty girl said, “My stepmother ordered me to gather some strawberries for her. I am not allowed to return until I fill this basket with them.”
She then sat down by the fireplace and pulled out the old hunk of bread that her stepmother had given her for food.
The three little men begged, “Give us some.”
The pretty girl said, “Of course, I will gladly share with you kind men.” She broke the bread into four pieces, and they each ate some.
After she had warmed herself, the men said, “Please take this broom and sweep the back porch for us.”
The pretty girl said, “Of course, I will be happy to.” The girl took the broom and went outside.
The little gnomes looked at each other and questioned, “What should we give her for being so gentle and so very kind and generous?”
The first gnome said, “She shall get prettier, day by day. That is my gift to her.”
The second gnome said, “A gold coin will fall out of her mouth with each word she speaks. That is my gift to her.”
The third gnome said, “She shall become the wife of a king. That is my gift to her.”
After the pretty girl cleared the back porch of all the snow, she saw delicious looking strawberries growing there. She gathered all she could until her basket was full. She returned inside and thanked the three little men. With a glad heart, she returned home.
The stepmother pretended to be glad to see the pretty girl. She asked, “Where did you find these lovely strawberries?”
The pretty girl opened her mouth and began her tale. With each word that came out of her mouth, a gold coin also fell. Soon the whole floor was covered with gold coins.
The plain girl was quite jealous. She said, “Look at her. See how she throws money around. The nerve of her coming here and doing that!” Secretly, she longed to be able to do the same. She gave her mother no peace until she too was allowed to go into the forest to gather strawberries.
Her mother gave her a thick fur coat to wear and lots of good things to eat. The plain girl walked straight to the little men’s house. She walked inside without even waiting for an invitation. She sat herself down and began to eat.
The gnomes begged, “Give us some.”
The plan girl said, “No way! Since I don’t even have enough for me, why would I wish to give any to you?” The girl stuffed her mouth with every bite of that food, not even offering them one crumb.
The little men ordered, “Go outside and sweep the back porch.”
The plan girl said, “You think I’m going to go out in the cold to sweep? You have another thing coming. Do I look like your maid? I don’t think so!” But seeing that the men were not giving her any strawberries, she finally flounced outside.
The three little men inquired, “What should we give such a greedy, unkind, sarcastic girl?”
The first gnome said, “She shall grow uglier day by day, so that her outside appearance will soon match the ugliness that already resides on the inside. That is my gift to her.”
The second gnome said, “A frog or newt shall leap from her mouth with every mean-hearted word that she speaks. That is my gift to her.”
The third gnome said, “She shall die a painful death. That is my gift to her.”
When the plain girl could find no strawberries anywhere around, she finally gave up and stomped home.
Her mother welcomed her with open arms and said, “Well, my dear, what happened to you?”
The plain girl opened her mouth and as she explained, frogs and newts leaped out at every word. Her misery knew no bounds and her jealousy for her pretty stepsister grew and grew. The stepmother also grew to hate her now beautiful stepdaughter. She came up with another plan to get rid of her for certain.
One day, she boiled and colored some yarn. She draped this hot mass over her stepdaughter’s shoulders and ordered, “Dig a hole in the ice of the nearby river and rinse out this yarn for me so it’s nice and clean.”
The stepdaughter obeyed. She walked to the river and attempted to chop a hole in the ice. She wasn’t having much luck, when suddenly, a carriage pulled up. Inside the carriage was the king of the land.
The king asked, “Excuse me, but what are you doing?”
The pretty girl said, “I am trying to chop a hole in this ice so that I might rinse this yarn for my stepmother.” With each word that she spoke, a gold coin came tumbling out.
Liking her beauty and the sight of those gold coins, and also seeing the gentle and kind look in the girl’s eyes, he asked, “Would you like to come to the castle with me and be my wife?”
The girl also liked the king’s looks. Motivated by that and the longing to no longer have to live with her stepmother and stepsister, she agreed.
Time passed and a baby boy was born.
One day, her stepmother and stepsister came to the castle. They sneaked into the queen’s bedroom and threw her out the window to her death. Then the stepsister climbed into her bed and covered up her head.
When the king came to the room expecting to talk to his beautiful wife, the queen, he was most surprised to see frogs or newts covering the floor instead of the gold coins. The stepmother was standing by for just that occasion. She lied, “Oh, the queen is not feeling well. That is why her head is covered and frogs and newts are coming out instead of gold coins. She will soon be on the mend.”
The king left and tried again the next day. The stepmother said, “Oh, she is still not feeling well.”
In the meantime, a duck came waddling up to the castle and asked the serving boy, “Are all my guests comfortable and is my baby boy doing well?”
The boy did not quite know how to respond, but finally said yes.
At night, the duck transformed back into the queen. She entered the castle, fed her baby boy, and tucked him back into bed. Then she left the castle and turned back into a duck. This went on for three days.
On the third day, the duck said to the serving boy, “Tell the king to wave his sword over my head three times, and I will be restored to my former self.” The serving boy obeyed. The king did as she requested and she was restored to him, alive, beautiful, and whole. He hid her inside the castle and bided his time.
That Sunday, the baby son was christened. At the party afterward, the king asked his impostor wife and mother-in-law, “What should I do with someone who throws another out the window to his or her death?”
Not suspecting a thing, both women responded, “You should put that person in a barrel studded with sharp nails on the inside. Then you should roll that barrel down into the water.”
The king said, “You have just pronounced your own death sentence. Let the deed be done just as you have said.”
Afterward, the king brought his wife out of hiding and he and she and their wee little one lived happily ever after.”
Chapter 3: Derrick and Tonya make changes in their lives
Tonya and Derrick quite enjoyed their grandmother’s tale. Derrick said, “That was a good story, Grandma, but I still don’t see what that has to do with me or Tonya.”
Grandma Jenkins said, “Don’t you see, my dear grandchildren, your words have great power and strength. Just like the plain girl in the story, if you allow bad words and thoughts to fill you up and pour out of your mouth, it is as if a frog or newt is leaping out of your mouth at each mean-hearted word that you say. Do you really wish to populate the earth with all those frogs and newts?”
The grandmother looked at her grandchildren with all seriousness. They stared back thoughtfully.
Tonya finally said, “That is just gross. I can’t imagine how yucky that would be to have frogs and newts coming out of my mouth. I would think that would be a bit like throwing up.”
Grandma Jenkins said, “Yes, my dear, you would be throwing up and out those frogs and newts and making the world a less pretty place. Before you knew it, people would start to avoid being your friend because they would see that you have allowed the bad thoughts and words to take root within your heart. That is not the fate I wish to happen to my two dear grandchildren whom I love more than anything or anyone.”
Derrick didn’t say anything, but you could tell he was thinking hard. Finally he asked, “What about the gold coins?”
Grandma Jenkins said, “Ah, that is a happier thought. Every time you say kind words, good words, healing words, it is almost as if gold coins are popping out of your mouth, filling the world with an abundance of good things. People will love to be around you for they will see that you are truly a kind-hearted soul. Because you lived, the world will be a better place, and people will be truly blessed to be around you. That is the fate that I would like to see happen to my beloved grandchildren.”
Tonya and Derrick looked first at their grandmother and then at each other. Finally, they took turns sincerely saying, “I’m sorry, Tonya.”
“I’m sorry too, Derrick. I won’t enter your room again without asking your permission.”
Once again, Grandma Jenkins looked under the table and chairs, with a pleased expression on her face.
Derrick asked, “What are you looking for now, Grandma?”
Grandma Jenkins said, “I’m looking for those gold coins that be pouring out of your mouth. What a pretty place you be making this house when you say those kind words to each other. How proud I am of my two grandchildren!”
After that, Derrick and Tonya tried much harder to let only friendly words come out of their mouths when talking to each other. They also tried to bring that kind behavior to school as well.
If they were ever tempted to say mean things to some of the other kids in the school, Derrick and Tonya both began to imagine Grandma Jenkins saying, “Oooh-oooh! There go those frogs and newts again, just slithering out of your mouth and populating the world.” That thought made them quickly close their mouths and swallow back those mean words before they could bring harm or ugliness to the world.
On the other hand, if they were tempted to say good and kind and friendly-sounding words, they opened their mouths and said them freely. In their imagination, they could see the piles of gold coins forming all around. They could also imagine Grandma Jenkins smiling proudly and saying, “Oh, boy! Look at all those gold coins. Goo-ood job!”
The other side benefit is that both Tonya and Derrick grew to be extremely popular. Everybody loved to be around them, for everyone felt the richer for having known two such good-hearted people as they.
As for you, my dear listeners, how do you choose to populate the world? Do you choose to fill the world with frogs and newts or do you choose to fill the world with piles of gold coins? Your words have great power to harm or to heal. The choice is up to you.
Return to Perception Lesson Plan: Frogs And Newts Or Gold Coins