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The baboon's umbrella

To help children consider listening to and thinking about advice.

by Jude Scrutton

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To help children consider listening to and thinking about advice.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a narrator, plus two children to play the gibbon and the baboon in the short play.
  • Practise the script with the actors beforehand (one or two runs through should be sufficient).
  • You will also need two umbrellas – one with holes or circles cut out of black paper and stuck on to represent holes.
  • Make a baboon mask and a gibbon mask or apply face paint (optional).
  • Obtain pictures of different types of monkeys and either display them on a screen or photocopy them on to OHP transparencies (optional).
  • See our resources section for more ideas about using drama in assemblies.


  1. Begin the assembly with a discussion about primates. Ask the children for examples, such as gorilla, baboon and gibbon. If using, you could show the pictures you gathered of them to demonstrate differences.
  2. Introduce the subject of fables and Aesop. If this is the first 'fable' assembly, you could say that Aesop was born as a Greek slave, but became a philosopher and taught people by telling them fables – that is, stories with a message.

    Explain that the fable the children are going to hear today is about a baboon and a gibbon. Introduce the characters and ask the children to think about the meaning of the story.

    Narrator: One day, a baboon was taking a walk through the jungle.

    Baboon walks on with an open umbrella, the one without holes or black spots.

    After a short while, he bumped into his friend, the gibbon.

    Gibbon enters and they walk into each other. The actors could try to walk like monkeys for a touch of humour.

    Gibbon: My good friend. How strange to find you holding an umbrella over you on such a fine day. Don't you want to feel the heat from the beautiful sun?

    Baboon: Yes, I would love to, but I am most annoyed. My umbrella is stuck and I would not think of walking around without it in case it rains. I would love to feel the sun on me. It's a bit of a problem isn't it?

    Gibbon: There's a simple answer. You need to cut some holes in your umbrella. Then the sun will shine on you.

    Baboon: What a great idea.

    Baboon exits.

    Narrator: Without further ado, the baboon ran home and used a big pair of scissors to cut some holes in the umbrella. When he returned  . . .

    The baboon returns with the umbrella with holes or spots.

    Baboon: At last, I can feel the beautiful warmth of the sun. How delightful.

    Narrator: (To the audience – the actors freeze.) Can you guess what happened next? There were a few drops of rain  . . .  then it began to pour. Within a few minutes the poor baboon was soaked to the bone.

    The baboon and gibbon run off, as if fleeing heavy rain.

  3. Ask the children for their ideas about the meaning of the story. Work round to the idea that advice from friends is like the weather – sometimes good, sometimes bad. Discuss times when the children have listened to advice. How did it turn out? Discuss how they need to listen to advice and think about whether they should follow it or not.

Time for reflection

Dear God,
Help me to think about all advice.
Help me to learn from my mistakes and to move forward from them.


'There's a new day' (Come and Praise Beginning, 13)

Publication date: July 2013   (Vol.15 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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