Third-graders get hands-on experience learning about trials

St. Mary Catholic School third-grader Kyle O’Gara (right) bangs the gavel after giving Golidilocks her sentence during a mock trail on Thursday. Probate Judge Tyler Thompson (left) decide to bring back mock trials after an approximate seven-year hiatus. (Pioneer photos/Meghan Gunther-Haas)

MECOSTA/OSCEOLA COUNTIES — Students throughout Mecosta and Osceola counties have played judge, jury, witness and more over the past couple of weeks, getting hands-on experience in how the court system works.

Libby Ladybug, played by Claire Hyde, gives her statements about Goldilocks’ bad manners during the mock trial. Libby saw Goldilocks enter the bear’s house and was almost eaten while Goldilocks was sampling Mama Bear’s porridge.

Since Friday, May 11, third-graders from Brookside Elementary, Evart Elementary, G.T. Norman Elementary, Riverview Elementary, St. Mary Catholic School and Pine River Elementary School have spent a morning or afternoon working through a variety of mock trials with Probate Judge Tyler Thompson.

“We have three cases that are loosely based on nursery rhymes,” Thompson said, noting students receive different roles in each case. “It’s been about seven years since this was last done. When I became a judge a little over a year and a half ago, I decided to start these back up.”

Students could have parts in tales such as “Jack and the Beanstalk,” in which the giant sues Jack for trespassing and theft of the giant’s chicken; “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” in which Goldilocks is sued for bad manners; and “Little Red Riding Hood,” in which the Big Bad Wolf sues Little Red for beating him up in the forest.

Clutching their scripts, students stood in front of podiums or gave witness accounts. Some students even dressed for their part and brought in props as evidence.

“This is a good opportunity for the students to come in and get a taste of court in a fun and silly way,” Thompson said.


The attorney for the bears, Brynn Courtright, reads opening statements during the “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” trial.

The attorney for the three bears, played by Brynn Courtright, gives Judge Kyle O’Gara a porridge bowl owned by Baby Bear as evidence.


Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at

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