The Reality Test for Kids

Two years ago, I tested Ali’s grasp of reality. It was on a whim while driving down the road after she asked me, “Are fireflies real?” The question made me realize how unrealistic some real things are, and how believable some imaginary things can be.

I mean really. A bug whose butt rhythmically lights up?

A lot changes in two years, though, and I was curious as to the shift in her perceptions. So I printed out my original reality test of twenty-five items, then added fifteen more. She was giddy about the game, and totally didn’t remember doing it two years ago. This time, out of forty questions, she got five wrong, giving her an official reality grade of 88% (after rounding.) So, progressing from four to six years old increased her reality grasp from a C- to a B+.

Ali 2011 2013

(Hopefully two years of studying will make a more drastic impact when she’s in college.)

So – let’s compare kids, compare notes, and see what seems to be the least believable reality and the most believable farce.

I inquired about each item in this form: “Are princesses real or pretend?”

Here’s the list:

  • Princesses
  • Hippopotamus’
  • Robots
  • Fireflies
  • Dinosaurs
  • Dragons
  • Dragonflies
  • Magic
  • God
  • Hearts
  • Unicorns
  • Presidents
  • Monsters
  • Police Men
  • Alligators
  • Kings and Queens
  • Castles
  • China
  • Rapunzel
  • George Washington
  • Moses
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • Buffaloes
  • California
  • Fairies
  • Submarines
  • Stepmothers
  • Mermaids
  • Lightning McQueen
  • Reindeer
  • Genies
  • Flying Carpets
  • Dora and Diego
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog
  • Turkish Delight
  • Roller Coasters
  • Pyramids
  • Wimpy Kid
  • Daddy’s Work

An interesting difference in her six-year-old answers and four-year-old answers were that on the ones she knew, she was much more confident and amused that I would even ask (“Silly Mommy! Of course China is real!”) But on the ones that she wasn’t sure about, she was much more hesitant to answer completely.

Such as on Magic, her answer was “Well, maybe, because I kind of believe Fairies are real, so if Fairies are real, then magic would have to be real.”

And on Fairies, she said, “Well, I got a note from the Tooth Fairy, and Giann [The Babysitter] told me that she saw a fairy once and I don’t think she was kidding.”

On Wimpy Kid, she got mad at me. “But you TOLD me that it was a diary that a little boy wrote!! You didn’t SAY that he wasn’t a REAL boy!!”

Other than that, she got Robots wrong for the second time (clearly I need to take this kid on a factory field trip), wasn’t sure about Stepmothers, and didn’t know what Genies were (I forgot we haven’t watched Aladdin.)

But I struck the genie off her record for explaining that “dinosaurs used to be real.”

So. Go quiz your kids. Report back how old they are, what they got wrong, and what surprised you the most about their grasp of reality.

I’ll be waiting here for your official reports.

41 thoughts on “The Reality Test.

  1. Well, my 1.5 year old can’t answer so I asked my 32 year old husband (just to throw off your stats!) He got most of it right but was more creative in his choices. Such as dragons are real because the Komodo dragon is a real lizard. I pointed out its really a lizard though, just named after a dragon. He stumbled on reindeer but corrected himself. And he didn’t know what Turkish delight was. Pretty fun though!

  2. I hope this isn’t showing my lack of intelligence too badly, but what in the world is Turkish Delight???

    1. It’s what Edmund eats (and craves) in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. But it is a very real thing – I just had some a couple of weeks ago. It’s kind of like prehistoric gummies coated in powdered sugar.

        1. That sounds fascinating – is it good? I find most Turkish Delight to be nasty, although I get a piece every now and then that is good.

      1. I encountered it in the real world for the first time last week. So I can now say I’ve had it, but I don’t think I would seek it out. Certainly not good enough to be lured into the evil queen’s sleigh with. But to each their own.

  3. The first thing I think of with Turkish Delight is the Chronicles of Narnia.. isn’t that the food that the little boy likes? Maybe…?

  4. L:ola is 6 and she got them all right except Castles stumped her. She answered everything quickly except that one. She just said maybe but she wasn’t sure.

  5. I forgot to put the only reason Lola got the Turkish Delight question right is because we are in the middle of reading the Chronicles of Narnia. I just explained to the kids what that was.

  6. My 7 yr old son decided that imaginary was too boring, instead he yelled “FAKE!” He also got 5 wrong, but after I pointed out he said kings and queens were real and princesses were fake, he corrected himself by saying Disney princesses are fake. He got Wimpy Kid wrong, too. He insisted it was a real movie, not a cartoon. I thought for sure he would get that one because he knows that TV characters are played by a real person, but nope.

  7. Our 4 year old boy got seven wrong. He knew princesses are real but thought kings, stepmothers, castles, and robots were from Disney. He thought mermaids were real for some reason. He also got reindeer and pyramids wrong. He got Turkish delight right but I’m pretty sure that’s a lucky guess as we haven’t moved on to CS Lewis yet!

  8. My five year old got four wrong. He thinks that princesses and kings/queens are just something in silly girl stories. ROFL And he didn’t remember what Turkish Delight was, so I can’t blame him for thinking that was pretend. lol

  9. My 3 and 4 year olds seem to be leading rather whimsical lives, as they both only scored 26/40! It was pretty interesting to listen to them try to convince each other something was real when they disagreed. The best was their reindeer discussion when Evelyn, my 3 year old, tried to remind Matilda that they saw reindeer on the internet at Christmas time so they must be real. I wasn’t sure if I should focus on giving her props for remembering and being correct or clue her in that she shouldn’t really place blind trust in internet videos. The 18 month old just squawked occasionally and did not want to participate.

    They both thought that dragons, monsters, Dora and Diego and Clifford were real, and they agreed that Presidents were pretend.

    The 3 year old thought that Unicorns, Fairies, Mermaids, and Genies were also real and that robots, hearts, buffaloes and (weep) God were pretend (don’t judge, the 4 year old was sure on that one!)

    The 4 year old thought that Rapunzel was real and that Princesses, Castles, Moses (she said BABY Moses was real but apparently plain old Moses is not… still some work to do), Submarines, Stepmothers, Reindeer, Turkish Delight, and Pyramids were pretend.

    They enjoyed the reality test and I enjoyed hearing their responses, particularly when they were trying to work it out. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I love these answers! And yes, if only we could believe everything we read or see on the internet…

      I’m glad y’all had fun with it!!

  10. My kids are asleep now but I’ll test ’em tomorrow. The other day my 6 year old did ask if robots were real. I replied, “of course! You’ve seen Gramma’s Roomba, haven’t you?” He was horrified that Roombas and Transformers both fall into the same category.

  11. Funny the things kids say and to go back and hear what she said a few years ago probably was funny. Our oldest daughter posted 4 videos when our granddaughter was 2 (she is going on 6) and it was so funny to listen to her and laugh at her thought process.

  12. My 6 year old missed princesses, kings and queens, and fairies. His best friend that was visiting missed princesses, kings and queens, robots, and Turkish delight. Hope that helps your study;)

    1. It’s always the boys that miss Princesses. Girls are well aware that they are real and that there is a very small chance that they could become one someday! :-)

  13. My 4 year old was pretty accurate except for places and people. According to him China, California, George Washington, Moses, Pyramids, and Step-Mothers are all pretend. Turkish Delight was left out and I think he got the rest right. My 3 year old wouldn’t even try…I’ll try again tomorrow.

  14. My son, Maddox, is 5 and I just asked him these questions. He got most of them right but I am kind of shocked at what he got wrong! (These first 2 are right but had to share the explanations!)
    Dinosaurs – he explained this one by telling me they were a real a long time ago. Trick question, kid!
    God – “you shouldn’t say that about God! God is real, not fake. God is real, I know. ”
    Presidents – “What is a president?” (Mother failure!!!!!!!!!)
    Rapunzel – “Yes. It’s a tv show and she also comes out for people to see her.” (Disney on Ice is confusing!)
    George Washington – “Who is that?”
    Lightning McQueen – “Yes, you can go see him race.”
    Dora & Diego – yes.
    Pyramids – (he got this one right but the answer was funny enough to share) “Yes. Sometimes when people die in other places, not in Fort Worth, they bury them in pyramids.

  15. We didn’t get through the whole test before Eli (3) held a hand up in front of my mouth and said “no more talking.” I guess the test was stressing him out! By that time he had already answered 15 wrong so it seems I have my work cut out for me!

  16. “Well, maybe, because I kind of believe Fairies are real, so if Fairies are real, then magic would have to be real.” Her conclusion was incorrect, but I think Ali should get a point for thinking through that one logically.

  17. Faries are real. Lightning McQueen is real. Hippopotamus? Obviously not.

    I’m good with that. My 4 year old got 10 wrong.

  18. My 9 year old daughter (thankfully) got them all right, laughing at most. My 4 year old daughter had a bit of trouble. She loved the game, but She was wrong on Princesses, Robots, Dinos, Dragonflys, Alligators, Kings/Queens, Castles, Fairies and Mermaids. We all had a good laugh at the Alligators when she realized later that she has seen alligators at the zoo. Oh, and since we happen to live in California, I am pleased to say she recognized that it is, indeed, real. The biggest eye opener for me was that I haven’t introduced them to the Chronicles of Narnia. That must be rectified!!

    1. The nine year old could read Chronicles of Narnia to the four year old! You’re welcome for just creating you an hour to yourself every day.

  19. Our almost 8 year old got them all right, just hesitated on Turkish Delight (his dad loves Big Turk, the candy bar equivalent). The 6 year old got them all correct, excect Turkish Delight (clearly someone has not been paying attention). The 4 year old said that Robots, Fireflies, Police Men, and Pyramids are pretend. The 2 year old would have skewed your results by answering “choo choo” to every one.

    Great quiz – loved seeing the different results between the ages.

  20. I love this, and I couldn’t wait to give to give it to my kids. I edited the test a bit though, since it included a few things my kids probably haven’t heard of.

    River, age 7, got them all right except for Santa, Fairies, and Unicorns. Oddly, though, he said magic is pretend, which leaves me wondering how Santa and fairies manage their jobs.

    Willow, age 3.5, did surprisingly real, with a few notable exceptions; hippopotamuses and alligators are pretend. (Apparently that zoo membership hasn’t been as educational as I thought.) Unicorns are real. Mermaids are real, “cause they live in the ocean and swim under the water without masks or even goggles. And they have eyes!” Reindeer are real, “and they live in the rainforest!” Clifford the Big Red Dog is “pretend, but real in the show.”

  21. I finally administered this to the boys. I had them write it down so E wasn’t influenced by C. There was a lot of funny commentary, but they both got 100%.

  22. I don’t think this will help your stats much, because I didn’t actually use your list. I just thought up a bunch of things, some of which were on your list and some weren’t. My 3.5 year old pretty much said everything was real. I think she may have been in a bit of a playful mood though, so I don’t know if it’s really what she thought, or she was just being funny. I told her that for example, monsters weren’t real, and she got really sad. My husband thinks I just ruined Sesame Street for her: “what!? Elmo isn’t real!?” She ran into her room to have some alone time…I think she had some things to think about.

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