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Choices: Whom do I follow?

To encourage the children to think about how they make decisions.

by Christopher Ruddle

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To encourage the children to think about how they make decisions.

Preparation and materials

  • Bottle of Diet Coke and bottle of a store’s own brand/value diet cola – swap the contents of the bottles, using a jug and funnel.
  • Small can of Heinz baked beans and small can of value baked beans – also swap the contents.
  • Packet of Kellogg’s CocoPops and packet of value chocolate puffed rice cereal – again, swap the contents.
    (In each case, you could use other branded products if you prefer.)
  • Elijah and the fire of God (section 3), would make a great drama or series of tableaux. A PowerPoint presentation of this story is available to download from Max7.org – http://www.max7.org/resource.aspx?id=e01bd78b-3498-4aed-8bc8-445a744807a0
  • The story of Elijah is in 1 Kings 18.17–40.

Assembly

  1. Begin by telling the children that we are going to talk today about how we make choices – whether we just follow the crowd, or make up our own minds.
  2. Ask for a volunteer to taste the diet Coke and the value Cola, and then say which tastes better.

    Repeat for the cold baked beans and then the chocolate puffed rice cereal (You may need to explain that people often think that products with a well-known brand name must taste better because they cost more and are more popular.)

    Tell the children that you swapped the contents. If children preferred the foods with the branded labels, tell them these were actually the foods with the cheaper labels. Suggest that next time they go to the supermarket with their mums they should tell their mums to buy the value products as they prefer them!

    Tell the children that we often decide things because we are following the crowd – what others think – rather than deciding for ourselves.
  3. Tell or present the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal (see ‘Preparation and materials’ section).

    –  Everybody in Israel decided they wanted to follow Baal (a false god; people imagined what he looked like, and made images of him out of gold and silver). They thought he had power to control the weather. It was cool to follow Baal. Even the king followed Baal.

    –  Elijah knew that Baal wasn’t a real god and it was silly to follow him. He went and told the king not to be so silly. But the king wouldn’t listen.

    –  Elijah told the people not to be so silly. It was silly to pray to a god made out of a lump of gold rather than the true God, the Lord. But the people said, ‘We’re not sure. There are 450 prophets of Baal and only one of you. Surely they can’t all be wrong. Besides, even the king says Baal is cool.’

    –  So Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a competition. They would each offer a sacrifice to their god and see which god could set the sacrifice alight.

    –  The prophets of Baal agreed. They collected wood and put it on a table made out of stones (called an altar). They killed a bull and put it on the altar and then started to pray to Baal. They shouted and prayed as loudly as they could and danced round and round the altar. But nothing happened.

    –  Elijah laughed at them and said, ‘You should shout louder. Maybe Baal is deaf! Maybe he’s gone to the loo and can’t hear you!’ So the prophets of Baal shouted even louder. But Baal didn’t answer.

    –  Then Elijah built his stone altar, and put wood on it and put his bull on top of it. Then he did something that looked stupid. He drenched his sacrifice with water, not once, not twice, but three times.

    –  Then he talked to the Lord. ‘Please, Lord, show the people that you are the real God. That even though everyone thinks Baal is cool, he’s not real. Show that you are the one true God.’

    –  Then God sent fire from heaven. It turned the water into steam. It burned up the bull and the wood and the stones. The fire almost singed Elijah’s eyebrows off it was so hot! Nothing was left of Elijah’s sacrifice.

    –  All the crowd knew that the Lord was God and bowed down and said, ‘The Lord! He is God!’
  4. Discuss how we make decisions. Sometimes we decide things are cool because that’s what everyone else says.

    Maybe in the playground, you might do something naughty because your friends are doing it.

    If you’re a boy, maybe in the classroom other boys are saying, ‘Boys don’t like this or that . . .’ Just because other people are saying it, it doesn’t mean you have to decide that, too.

    If you’re a girl, maybe in the classroom other girls are saying, ‘Girls don’t like this or that . . .’ Just because other people are saying it, it doesn’t mean you have to decide that, too.

Time for reflection

Think about times when you might be influenced by others to make decisions in a certain way, rather than weighing up all the evidence for yourself.
 
Think about how you can decide for yourself, rather than just following the crowd.

Song/music

‘I was lying in the roadway’ (Come and Praise, 88).

Publication date: September 2011   (Vol.13 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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