The Princess and the Pea: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Could one small pea cause you to sleep poorly? That's the question the royal family has for the mysterious princess that shows up at their door. In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at the story, 'The Princess and the Pea.'

A Delicate Situation

Think of the most delicate (or fragile) thing you can. Did you think of a porcelain tea cup, a piece of tissue paper, a flower or butterfly wings? Those are all fine or sensitive objects that can be easily broken or damaged if you're not careful.

The story in our lesson today, ''The Princess and the Pea,'' presents another delicate situation, but this time, it's an especially sensitive person whose delicate nature must mean that she's a princess.

Get ready to learn more about this story by Hans Christian Andersen.

Learning about ''The Princess and the Pea''

There was once a prince who longed to find his princess, but she needed to be a real princess, and she turned out to be quite hard to find. The prince traveled all over the world searching for his future bride, but could never find one that was just right for him. Saddened, he returned home, having given up on his search.

One night, in the midst of a terrible storm, a young woman - a princess! - showed up at the gate of the town looking for refuge (or shelter) from the storm. The prince's father, the king, opened the gate to the woman who claimed to be a princess. Her appearance - wet from head to toe - certainly did not resemble that of a true princess.

A Test

The queen, curious about whether the woman was really a princess, devised a test to figure out her true nature. She went into the guest quarters, took the bedclothes off the bed, and placed one small pea in the bottom of the bed. On top of the pea, the queen stacked 20 mattresses and 20 eiderdown (or soft feathers from a duck) beds on top of the mattresses. This was where the princess made her bed for the evening.

The next morning, the royal family, curious still about the princess, asked her if she slept well high atop 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds. The princess responded that she didn't sleep well at all, because there was something hard in the bed.


Thanks to her answer, the princess passed the test. Only a true princess, they determined, would be able to feel a small pea beneath 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds because, ''nobody but a princess could be so delicate.''

One small pea proves the girl is a true princess.
princess, pea, hans, christian, andersen

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