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Working together

Uses the harvest to stress the importance of working together.

by Alison Ball and Richard Seel

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To use the harvest to stress the importance of working together.

Preparation and materials

  • Make sure you have a suitable space, either at the front of a hall or ensure that an aisle is left in the middle of the children when they are sat down that is wide enough for four children to pass through.
  • You will need six or eight children to perform old and new harvesting actions.


  1. Show the PowerPoint slides of the harvest pictures you have prepared.

    Who can say what is happening here? Yes, harvest!
  2. Have a look at these pictures of harvest in the olden days.

    Show the slides using a scythe and so on.

    This video shows how this was done.

    Show the first video listed above. Talk about the traditional way of harvesting, using a scythe, and the roles of men and women – the men scything the crop, the women gathering and stacking and so on.

    Ask the three or four children to come up and ‘scythe’. Have the other three or four children follow behind, to gather and stack. Play the second video listed above, which is an audio track of scything to help them keep in rhythm.

    Note how hard it is to stay in straight lines, so that all the crop is gathered in right across the field.
  3. Do farmers in this country still harvest like that?

    No. One or two or three people can do it all with machines whereas before lots of people needed to help and they each had different parts to play, as we saw.

    Show the third video, of a combine harvester.
  4. I know what, why don’t we build a human combine harvester?

    These are some of the key parts of a combine harvester:

    – revolving reel to feed the crop into the machine
    – cutter bar to cut the stalks of wheat or barley
    – threshing drum inside, to separate the grain from the stalks and ears
    – the arm to pour out the grain into a truck being driven alongside
    – straw walkers to push straw out of the back
    – the driver.

    Invite some of the children to come up and be the parts of a combine harvester as follows:

    – two on their knees, facing forwards at the front to rotate their arms to be the revolving reel
    – two more, also on their knees, one on either side of the revolving reel to be cutters – they swing their outside arms (one on the left, one on the right) in and out to simulate the cutter bar
    – two behind them, standing sideways on, rotating their arms to be the threshing drum
    – one tall child, standing sideways on, with one arm raised to represent the grain hopper
    – two at the back on their knees facing away from the others throwing their arms out and back as they expel the straw from the back of the combine harvester – they will have to move backwards and keep up with the others when the combine moves
    – finally, a driver who stands in the middle, behind the revolving reel and the threshing drum children, next to the child being the grain arm.

    Divide the rest of the children into two groups. Ask the combine harvester to move and, as it does so, ask one group to make a quiet ‘chugga-chugga’ engine noise and the other a quiet ‘swish-swish’ harvesting noise.

    Direct the combine to make its way down the hall, turn at the back (tricky, this!) and come back to the front. Then everyone can return to their places. If the combine falls to pieces as it moves, stop it and regroup, encouraging the children to be mindful of every part in the machine, else it will break again and the harvest won’t be brought in.

    Notice that even though the combine harvester is one machine, each bit has a special part to play and it couldn’t harvest if one bit wasn’t working properly. Farmers sometimes can’t get their wheat in because they are waiting for a new part for their combines. Fortunately, they don’t usually have to wait too long.
  5. For church schools

    In the Bible, Jesus talks about harvest. Have a listen and see if you can understand what he was saying about it here in Luke 10.1–3 and 8–9:

    After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way.
    Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”’

    I wonder what kind of harvest Jesus was talking about?

    He was talking about bringing good things to the world. God is ready to do good things, but he needs people to work with him. Here are some of the things that Jesus said needed to be done:

    – pray for more workers
    – go out and find people in need
    – heal those who are sick or in trouble
    – share food and friendship with strangers
    – tell people about the way God wants his world to be and how his people should live their lives.

    What do you think that Jesus would be asking us to do today?

    Elicit the following kinds of answers:

    – to look after our world, to take time to see how beautiful the countryside is all around us and – to care for it
    – to look after people – our friends and family and those who live near or far from us who need help or companionship
    – to give money, if we can, when there have been disasters or help is needed in countries across the world as well as at home
    – to promote fair trade and sharing of resources for those less able to speak for themselves (Key Stage 2 only)
    – to support, build up and encourage other people
    – to pray for situations where we feel we can’t do anything else

Time for reflection

Just like in the combine harvester, with all its parts, we all have different parts to play and the work is carried out best when all parts are working together as a smooth unit. In the combine harvester, when a part goes wrong, then the harvest cannot be brought in properly. In our world, when countries, communities and people start caring for themselves first without thinking of others, things don’t go as well as they could.



Thank you for all the good gifts you give us in your harvest.
Help us to remember that we need to work together so that we can all share in your goodness. Amen.


‘Together’ (Songs for EVERY Assembly, Out of the Ark)

‘I belong to a family, the biggest on earth’ (Come and Praise, 69)

Publication date: September 2013   (Vol.15 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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