The Magic of Happiness


  1. Remind children that they can look outwards and inwards. That is, through using the senses (outwards) and by knowing or ‘watching’ our thoughts (inwards). Both of these can happen whilst doing the exercise. Practise the exercise
  1. Remind pupils that each week they will be asked to think about the last philosophy session, and bring forward any new evidence, thoughts or ideas connected with it. They should know that philosophy and thinking do not just take place during the 1 hour lesson per week – good thinking can take place at
  1. Make sure the class have agreed on the rules for good dialogue g. one person speaks at a time. See the list in the first section of the book.
  1. Read the story ‘The Magic of Happiness’.
  1. Ask children to remember three things that happened in the story, in the correct order, and then share these with a
  1. Working in groups of 3 or 4, get children to discuss what they thought was the theme or ‘inner meaning’ of the story, giving evidence from the For example, ‘We think the theme was friendship because . . . ’
  1. Move to the ‘Questions for Thinking’ to stimulate the
  1. For a closure activity, get children to think of one idea mentioned today that is important to them.
  1. Discuss the ‘Thought for the ’

The Magic of Happiness

This modern fairy story for younger children, shows that there are subtle aspects to happiness, and that the absence of it affects everyone and everything around. Benson the giant takes a while to learn that happiness is best!

You’ve all heard stories about giants before, haven’t you? Greedy giants, like the one in Jack and the Beanstalk. Stupid giants, cruel and treacherous giants, even kind giants.

This is the story of a sad and miserable giant. His name was Benton and he lived in a big house with a very large garden.

One thing that Benton liked was flowers. He loved to look at the delicate structure of their petals and stamens and marvel at their brilliant colours. He would bend and put his enormous nose near them and smell their scent. Sometimes he would just sit and watch the bees gathering nectar or the butterflies hovering about. The only trouble was, even in his vast garden, not a single flower would grow. He could only admire flowers in other people’s gardens.

All the people of the village were used to Benton, of course. Some of them felt sorry for him but others thought him mean and unfriendly. He was always straying into their gardens to admire the flowers but if anyone came near his house, he would send them away with a roar and a wave of a huge fist.

Benton tried planting seeds. He watered them well and they came up, but as soon as he bent over to peer at them, they wilted, and Benton’s face would droop too. He tried buying plants from the garden centre but as soon as he planted them in his own garden, they wilted and died. Once he even paid a gardener to plant out his garden, but it was no use. The minute that Benton came out to look at the flowers, the colourful blooms bent their heads and the leaves curled up and withered. Even weeds and grass wouldn’t grow, so that the giant’s garden looked like a desert of dry earth and stones.

The only living thing in Benton’s garden was a huge oak tree. It was hundreds of years old and far more powerful than the giant. In fact, when the giant sat under its gnarled branches sometimes on hot summer days, even he looked small by comparison.

Children sometimes looked into his garden as it seemed like a good place to kick a ball around and the oak tree looked inviting to climb. But Benton the giant would roar and shake his massive fist and they would run back home, holding their hands over their ears.

One day he was sick. When he awoke in the morning he felt hot and shivery. He tried to get out of bed but almost fell over as dizziness overcame him.

‘Oooh, I feel bad,’ he moaned, and lay down in bed again.

For three days he stayed there, just managing sometimes to get a drink of water   or go to the bathroom. No-one knew he was ill. No-one came to visit him or make him something nice to eat. On the fourth day he felt a little better and sat up on the side of the bed. Something caught his eye outside the window and he stood up for a better look. There were children playing in a corner of his garden!

Benton leapt to his feet, raising his fist and preparing to bang on the window and bellow to frighten them away.

But his legs felt weak and would hardly hold him and his arm felt heavy and flopped back to his side. Even the bellow in his throat came out as a whisper.

Benton slumped back on the bed, annoyed. He would get them! When he was better he would teach them a lesson.

It took several more days for the giant to recover completely and all the time he could hear the laughter and shouts of the children having fun in his garden. At last he felt better and early one morning he went downstairs. He opened the front door quietly and peered out.

‘Good,’ he said to himself. ‘The children haven’t arrived yet, but when they do, they are in for a big fright.’

Benton crept outside and hid behind the big oak tree. Then he waited. Soon the children arrived, skipping and laughing. The giant watched as they entered his gate and went over to the corner where they had been playing. Then he took a deep breath.

‘Go Away’! he roared.

The children screamed and fled with Benton striding after them, making sure they were well away from his gate. Then he turned back towards his house.

But something caught his eye. In the corner where the children had been playing   a thick carpet of grass covered the ground. Through it daisies and buttercups poked their heads. Around the edges were clumps of wild flowers.

Benton couldn’t believe his eyes! He strode over for a closer look but as he reached them the colours faded, the flower petals fell and the grass turned brown. Before his eyes the garden disappeared leaving brown dusty earth.

What had made the garden grow?  What magic did the children possess?

He remembered the sound of their happy playing. Was that what it was?

Benton ran back towards the gate and along the road. ‘Come back!’ he shouted. ‘Children! Come back!’

The children stopped running and turned round, unable to believe their ears. There stood Benton waving his hand to bring them back instead of his fist to shoo them away.

Slowly they went back. What had made the giant change? They were suspicious at first. ‘Why are you calling us back?’ asked one brave boy.

‘Because you have the magic of happiness,’ said the giant. ‘You made my garden bloom. Come in and see.’

The children trooped in and soon forgot the giant and started to play again. Benton watched from his doorway.

Little by little spikes of green grass sprouted and thickened into a lawn. Flowers opened their petals in a rainbow of colours. Soon bees and dragonflies arrived, and birds sang from the oak tree.

Benton was the happiest giant in the world.


1.      Benton didn’t like children, and he was always feeling miserable, but what was the one thing that he did like?

2.      Do you think this shows us anything about Benton?

3.      Why did Benton call the children back after he had been shouting at them?

4.      Have you ever been unhappy and seen the effect it has on others?

5.      What effect does being happy have on other people?

6.      How could this affect our class?  Our school?  Our family?

7.      What causes happiness?

8.      Are there different kinds of happiness?

9.      Does happiness last?  Why?  Why not?

10.      Can we choose to be happy?