Cranky Chicken | A story about using our hands in helpful ways

Cranky Chicken | A story about using our hands in helpful ways

stories & storytelling

Are you the parent of a preschooler who often uses their hands to push, hit, or grab? First, take a deep breath and know this is completely normal behavior for young children! Second, did you know using stories can help address more challenging behaviors like this? It’s true! Pedagogical, or teaching tales, are wonderful ways to address topics including sudden changes, upcoming transitions, or challenging behaviors.

When you sit down with your child to enjoy this audio episode from our Waldorf-inspired early childhood program, you’ll learn nature-based, seasonal songs and poems during circle time, and then you will hear a pedagogical story about using hands in helpful ways (instead of harmful ones).

I wrote this story when one of the young children in my program was struggling to find his place in the group.  He wanted to be included in the play and tried to get involved in less-than-helpful ways. He was a strong and determined child who, unfortunately, received much negative feedback about these parts of himself. He had developed shame around these issues that further affected his confidence and ability to join groups of children. 

I worked with the child’s parents and the parents in the program to ensure the language surrounding this child was positive and inclusive. I also told this story for four weeks, ending with a puppet show and ultimately having the children act it out with the puppets themselves.

The magic of the story went to work, and several things shifted:

  • The group of children began to praise this child for his strength.
  • The boy’s confidence grew and he was soon at ease and part of the group.
  • The boy stopped using his hands to push, knock, hit, or grab and took pride in using them to build, create, help, and repair. 

The biggest shift was inside the young boy himself. After hearing this story, he realized that his strength and determination were things to be proud of.

Story: The Cranky Chicken

There was a young chicken who would become excited or frustrated and use her sharp beak to peck, peck, peck at things around her. Sometimes, even her friends! She was given the nickname “Cranky Chicken” because she made her friends cranky when she pecked them. Her friends became so cranky they often didn’t want to play with the little chicken. One day, her friend the cow got a bur stuck on her back and needed help removing it. None of the other animals could help, and the little chicken knew her beak could help. She used her beak as gently as possible to remove the burr. Then, she gave the cow a gentle scratch on her back with her beak. Her beak was the perfect tool for the job! 

After that, the chicken knew how to use her beak in helpful ways instead of hurtful ways.

“I’m a cranky chicken and I want you to see

My strong beak is the best part of me.”

“Use your beak in helpful ways, not hurtful ways.”

“I’m no longer a cranky chicken, and I’m here to say

I use my beak in helpful ways.” 

Other Pedagogical Tales

Interested in hearing other pedagogical or teaching tales? Our Purple Day episodes from Storytime in the Schoolhouse® include more stories like this one, including:

Tidy-Up Teddy: a pedagogical tale about tidying your room


Storytime in the Schoolhouse follows a weekly rhythm of songs, storytelling, and creative arts. To experience a full week of Storytime, click here to sign up for our free Storytime Seasonal Sampler.

Interested in learning more nature-based songs, stories, and craft projects?

 Check out our Storytime Seasonal Sampler, which includes a whole week of Storytime for each season, giving you new songs and stories to enjoy all year.

When you sign up, you'll join 10K+ parents and caregivers who get weekly stories, crafts, and nature-based projects by email every Tuesday morning. You can easily unsubscribe at any time.

We don't like spam either. We will never share or sell your information.