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Setting the cat among the pigeons

To help the children understand that doing one little action can set off a stream of consequences.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 1

Aims

To help the children understand that doing one little action can set off a stream of consequences.

Preparation and materials

  • Arrange some dominoes set up ready to be knocked down.

  • The story, Hairy Maclary’s Rumpus at the Vet by Lynley Dodd.
  • Write the 10 sentences (see below, point 3) on the whiteboard, mixed up for the children to reorder.

Assembly

  1. Before the children come in to the assembly, tell them that they are going to have to enter very quietly today, in fact they will have to tiptoe. Hopefully a few might notice the dominoes. Once they are all seated, ask what will happen if you knock the first domino. It will set off a chain reaction. It will affect the next one and the next one and the next one. Allow a child to demonstrate.
  2. Say that you are going to read the children a story that is a bit like the dominoes. Read and enjoy the story of Hairy Maclary at the vet with the children. Can the children identify the similarity with the dominoes illustration?
  3. Reread the first page as far as ‘so she gave it a tweak’. Then ask, what happened next?

    Ask the children to help you put the things that happened as a result in the right order. The sentences could be numbered on the whiteboard as the children sequence them.

    The correct order is:

    (1) Cassie plucked out a hair from Hairy Maclary.
    (2) Hairy Maclary knocked over a bowl full of mice.
    (3) The bottom dropped off the cage and four budgies flew out.
    (4) Grizzly MacDuff, the cat, leaped out of his basket to catch the budgies.
    (5) Poppadum kittens squeezed through the opening and joined in the chase.
    (6) Barnacle Beasley bumbled and clattered all over the floor.
    (7) Custard the Lab, Muffin McLay and Noodle the Poodle scampered round bottles and boxes and knocked them all down.
    (8) The vet tripped on a lead and fell over.
    (9) Geezer the goat crashed into Cassie’s cage.
    (10) Cassie got mad, saw something twitch and …
  4. What a lot of things were set in motion by one naughty little action!

    The Bible says it in a different way – a whole forest can be set ablaze by one small spark. Perhaps the lesson for us today is to think before we do!

Time for reflection

How many people or animals do you think enjoyed that hullabaloo?
How do you think the vet felt at the end of that day?
What do you think the vet’s surgery looked like at the end of that day?

Prayer
Dear God,
We enjoyed the story of Hairy Maclary and his friends today. It was funny.
Sometimes the things we do and the things we say are like dominoes:
they start a whole lot of things happening.
Sometimes they get us into a mess and into a muddle
and we end up hurting ourselves and other people.
Please help us to think before we do and before we speak
so that our words and our actions don’t hurt others.
Amen.

Song/music

‘He’s got the whole world, in his hand’ (Come and Praise, 19)

Publication date: January 2010   (Vol.12 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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