innovating on the traditional story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears

When you’re on a theme, stick to it

Education is my theme. It’s my passion. Sometimes I think I should get another interest, but I’m stuck with this one. Sometimes I get stuck with a theme within a theme too. That’s happening at the moment.

Goldilocks and her Friends the Three Bears interactive innovation

A couple of weeks ago, I uploaded an innovation on the traditional story of Goldilocks to readilearn, a collection of teaching resources for the first three years of school. I also added some suggestions for using the resource to teach reading and writing, including sight words in context. I have other supporting resources in progress to be added to the collection soon.

While my story Goldilocks and her Friends the Three Bears is not really a fractured fairy tale, it’s simply a retelling with an alternative ending; I’ve also been thinking of fractured fairy tales for my Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest coming up next month. (Look for further details to be published at the Ranch this week.)

So stuck on this theme am I, that I wrote a 297 (3 x 99) word story as a response to Charli’s Tuff prompt “Papa’s Bar”. While this Free-Write contest is now closed (writers have only twenty-four hours to respond to the prompt), there will be four more chances to enter the TUFFest Ride event with the next one scheduled for September 19. Be sure to look out for it if you want to be in it.

Note: I’m not sure where or what the Papa’s bar is that Charli alluded to, but I am sure that it’s not what I wrote my story about. In Australia, when we play tiggy, that you might know as tag or tig, or some other name, we might allocate a certain spot as ‘bar’. This means that you are safe and cannot be tagged when on or touching that spot. Sometimes, players will attempt to allocate a spot as bar just as they arrive at it in order to avoid being tagged.

While I have no thoughts that I may win any of the TUFF contests, it is fun having a go. This is what I wrote in response to the Papa’s Bar prompt. I hope you enjoy it.

bears sleeping

Papa’s Bar

Out in the woods lived a family of bears; Papa Bear, Mama Bear and baby bears five. All summer long, Papa Bear toiled, ensuring his family were contentedly fuelled, ready to sleep through the winter’s long dark. They filled up their bellies with berries hung low, with fish in abundance in streams flowing clear, and hives’ full bounty of gold. Mama and babies had no need to complain, every meal Papa made, a sumptuous feast.  When autumn arrived, and food became scarce, Papa Bear said, ‘Now’s time for bed. Close your eyes little ones, dream sweet dreams until spring.’

The babies were restless, not ready for sleep.

‘We need a story,’ a little one said. ‘Tell us about life when you were a cub. What did you eat? Where did you play?’

‘Just one story — then sleep.’

‘We need a drink first,’ said the cubs.

‘Okay, but lickety-split.’

They had just settled back when another voice said, ‘I’m hungry.’

‘Me too,’ chimed the others.

‘Can’t be,’ said Papa Bear. ‘No food until spring.’

‘Awh,’ they chorused.

‘I could make some porridge,’ yawned Mama Bear.

‘Yay! Porridge!’ said the baby bears.

‘But then you must sleep,’ said Papa Bear.

But they didn’t. Before his story was through, Papa Bear was snoring with Mama Bear nestled beside him.

‘Let’s play tag,’ smirked one.

‘I’m It,’ said another.

They took turns to run and catch, and through it all, the parent bears slept.

At last, the littlest bear yawned. No more running and catching, he was ready for sleep. He scrambled over Papa Bear, escaping the tagger’s clutches with a warning, ‘Can’t get me. Papa’s bar.’

His eyes closed and then, one by one, they snuggled into a big bear hug, murmuring ‘Papa’s bar’ as they drifted off to sleep.

Pasta prompt for Carrot Ranch Flash fiction prompt by Charli Mills

When Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch posted this week’s flash fiction prompt, challenging writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes pasta. It can be spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, or any variety. It can be a meal or a work of art. Go where the prompt leads, how could I not get the bears in on the act again.

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it too.

Pasta for Breakfast

Papa Bear pushed back his chair. “Not this muck again.”

Mama Bear stopped mid-ladle. “It’s Baby Bear’s favourite. I— I thought it was yours too.”

Baby Bear’s lip quivered.

“Pfft! Sometimes a bear needs real food.” He grabbed his hat. “I’m going for a walk.”

“Papa!” Baby Bear went after him.

Mama Bear dumped the porridge, pot and all, into the bin, grabbed her hat and followed.

“Where are we going?” asked Baby Bear.

“Somewhere nice for breakfast. It is spring after all.”

Papa Bear paused outside BreakFasta Pasta, then went in.

Mama Bear smiled; pasta was her favourite.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

37 thoughts on “When you’re on a theme, stick to it

  1. Native's Castle

    Evidently I have been an artist and writer from early childhood. I used to draw on my bedroom walls, and door and my parents ignored it. Now I love sketching what I see, writing stories of what I hope that happens. My teachers were always challenged keeping me on the theme and i know what they were refering to. I think i caught on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      How wonderful for your parents to allow you to draw on your bedroom walls and door. They obviously recognised and were happy to encourage your talent. It’s a good thing you caught on.


  2. Annecdotist

    I know what you mean about being stuck on a theme but I’m often amused by how, in my own writing, it can mutate across different projects. Of course education’s your theme and The Three Bears is a great story. I liked your take on it in response to Papa’s Bar, although I appreciated the explanation as I don’t think we call it that here. I missed that particular TUFF prompt as I was busy all day, but I suspect it would be one of the hardest for me to respond to. I did deliver a fractured fairytale to one of the others though, and looking forward to helping you judge the 99-word story versions.
    Also enjoyed your pasta flash which made me smile. Also made me think of my dystopian novel WIP where, food being in short supply, my young narrator relishes pasta as an upgrade from porridge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      It’s funny that the narrator of your story relishes pasta as an upgrade from porridge as my bears did. I promise I haven’t stolen a peek at your WIP. 🙂
      It is difficult to come up with a story in just 24 hours when life has other commitments as well. I guess that’s why she calls them TUFF.
      I hope I get to read your fractured fairy tale, Anne, and you’re just right to write one for these other contests as you won’t get to write one for mine as you’re judging. Unless you’d like to write one for the prompt post? Now there’s an idea. What do you think? Maybe you and Robbie could both write one. 🙂


      1. Annecdotist

        I thought I’d written a fractured fairytale for one of these challenges, but had a check through and can find it. I think there were a couple of fairytale-type stories, but not based on a recognisable original. Of course you could push us to write one for the contest, but it looks as if the ones you posted – both here and on the introductory post – do an excellent job as it is.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. thecontentedcrafter

    I enjoyed both those stories Norah – and why not find a theme and stick to it for as long as you feel like – who knows where it might lead! 🙂 I liked the whole way you played with the idea of preparing for hibernation and the reality of getting toddlers off to sleep. Little kids – and plenty of parents too – can relate easily to those images. I thought your imagery was good, I could easily visualise the last warm, happy lump of cuddled bears and cubs. And the final flash was very lively. Perfect for that spring awakening and new beginnings.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Pauline, for your generous comments on all three counts – my two stories and my theme. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the story about the bears hibernating. When I first started thinking about it I was going to have them playing tag in spring but the story had other ideas. I guess, as you say, I covered spring in the flash.
      I hope you are enjoying spring. Is it warming up over your way yet?


      1. thecontentedcrafter

        Well, we briefly thought we had skipped spring and gone straight to summer, but today the temperature plummeted, the rain returned and we are back in winter. It must be spring 😀 It’s lovely to see all the spring flowers and trees budding despite the weather being a bit moody. I guess you don’t have to second guess the weather so much…….. ?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Norah Post author

          Your weather sounds like ours – changeable, which it often is this time of the year. But the spring flowers are amazing, aren’t they? I’m looking forward to the Jacaranda’s flowering soon. Do you have them over there? Our wattle trees flowered early in mid-winter!


  4. Charli Mills

    Sometimes I get swept up in a theme of ideas, too, Norah. I often think it’s a way of processing and can be opening up to creativity as you certainly are doing. I didn’t know about a “bar” in the game of tag (tiggy). We have a “base” in ours. Over the weekend, I watched a movie based on a group of men who continued to play tag 30 years after they started the game as 9-year-olds. Your resources always look so robust and engaging. And your flash made me laugh, thinking Mama Bear had a plan to get Papa Bear to take them out for breakfast. I look forward to your Rodeo Contest! And as a TUFF judge, I’ll refrain from remarking on your entry, but will say I’m so pleased you took the challenge. All writer who has stepped up to the free-writes should be commended for taking a big challenge.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Charli, You know it took me days to come up with an idea for a response to your prompt, but then, this morning. It came to me in a flash. I wrote it in ten minutes. 🙂 I didn’t think I was going to be able to write anything for pasta. The thought of it was making me feel stodgy, just as pasta does.
      That movie sounds funny. I hope it was. I wonder how they continued their game. A friend and I used to play ‘tag’ with Christmas card. One would write in it and send it one year, the other would write and send it back the next. It was going well until someone lost it. 🙂
      I’m pleased the flash made you laugh. I wondered if I should have included an addendum to the free-write about the meaning of ‘tag’ but I thought (hoped) the story may have explained it well enough. I’m enjoying the challenges, but it is tough to respond in 24 hours. I appreciate your encouragement with my writing.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Charli Mills

        The meaning of tag comes through in your story! I think card tag might be simpler to play. This group of men played every May and often wore disguises to get close enough to tag a friend. It had an interesting message about how playing a game kept each other in their lives. The movie was a bit over the top but it was fun. I’m glad your writing digestion got moving with pasta! Your brain was working on the puzzle.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Norah Post author

          I’m pleased the meaning of tag (bar?) came through in my story. The movie sounds a bit sinister with disguises. I hope it wasn’t. It’s true what you say about my brain working on the puzzle. I was tossing around a story about Papa Bear not liking porridge for a while but it hadn’t materialised. I suddenly realised that pasta was the answer. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person


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