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Josie and Jake and the big mistake

Considers what the right thing is to do when you are disobedient and make mistakes.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 1


To consider what the right thing is to do when you are disobedient and make mistakes.

Preparation and materials

  • None required.


  1.  Josie and Jake were friends. They had been friends in toddler group when they were just two years old and they had been friends at nursery when they were three and four years old. Now they were big and grown up and in the Reception class/Year 1 and they were still good friends.

  2. Tell the following story.

    Josie and Jake and the big mistake

    It was Monday morning and Josie and Jake noticed lots of writing tools on their teacher’s desk. There were chubby crayons, thick felt pens, thin felt pens, pastels and even charcoal. Jake liked the charcoal best. It made a mess and he liked making smudgy drawings with it!

    ‘Now children, you have been learning to make marks with all sorts of different tools,’ said Mr Donaldson, their teacher. ‘You have learned how to make thick lines and thin lines, dark lines and light lines, straight lines and curved lines. You have all become very good at handling these tools the proper way and so I think you are clever enough now to use a pencil for your work today.’

    With that Mr Donaldson put all the old writing tools away in his drawer and took out a box full of brightly coloured pencils. Josie was very excited. She chose a beautiful new red pencil from the box. It had a sharp point and a clean white rubber sitting on the top. Jake was excited, too, and chose a blue pencil.

    ‘Now,’ said Mr Donaldson, ‘you can all try writing your name. Fill the page with your name if you want too so that you get lots of practice. If you make a mistake don’t worry. Just cross it out with your pencil and try again. I don’t want you to use the rubbers today.’

    Josie couldn’t wait to start. She concentrated very hard. The ‘J’ and ‘o’ were easy to do, but she always found the ‘s’ letter tricky. She tried hard, but, oh dear, it was far too big next to the lovely round ‘o’. She didn’t want to spoil the page by crossing out her mistake as her teacher had instructed. It would be seen! 

    What do you think she did?

    Yes, you are right. She rubbed the ‘s’ out. Rubbing out wasn’t very easy. She could still see some faint writing on the paper, but it wasn’t too messy. She tried again. That was a little better. The next letter, ‘i’, was easy-peasy. It looked very nice, but then she got the ‘e’ the wrong way round and it was far too big. Once again, Josie turned her pencil round and rubbed out the mistake. 

    She had been concentrating really hard and leaning quite hard, too, and it was very difficult to get rid of the messy ‘e’. She tried to write a new ‘e’ over the top of the first one. Oh no, that letter was all wrong again and far too dark. By this time her rubber was dirty, too, and, as poor Josie tried to rub out the ‘e’, the writing smudged and the paper creased and altogether her work looked most untidy. She felt like crying. She glanced over at Jake’s work and saw that his was far worse. He had rubbed a great, big, dirty hole in his paper! Josie felt a hand on her shoulder. It was Mr Donaldson and he was smiling.

    ‘Gather round children with your papers. I think some of us have learned a very important lesson this morning, with the help of our pencils.’

  3. Mr Donaldson explained to the children that, with practice, a rubber is a good tool for taking away any pencil mistakes, but it is tricky to get right. You have to learn to rub just hard enough so that the writing disappears but not too hard or else you smudge and then make a hole, like Jake did. Mr Donaldson had asked the children not to use their rubbers on the first day because he knew all this, but some children didn’t do what they were told and got into a big mess. They ended up feeling upset, too.

  4. Why do you think Josie didn’t want to just cross out her mistakes? 

    The children will probably answer, ‘Her mistakes would be seen.’

    Pencil mistakes are a bit like the wrong things we can do in our lives that mess things up. The Bible calls these sins. We don’t like people to see these wrong things. We would like to rub them out and hide them. Sometimes, if it is just a little sin, we manage to hide it, but little sins have a habit of becoming bigger sins and bigger sins usually become quite obvious to those who know us.

  5. When we make mistakes, just like our families and friends do, we can simply say, ‘I am sorry’ to God and then we are forgiven. Mr Donaldson knew that. Josie and Jake said, ‘Sorry’ and soon they felt much better. By the end of the week Josie was managing her ‘s’s and ‘e’s very nicely.

Time for reflection

Spend a couple of moments thinking about the things that you do wrong  . . .

Now think about who you need to say ‘Sorry’ to as a result. 

Dear Lord,
We all make mistakes at times. 
We all do wrong things at times. 
Help us to have the courage to own up and to say, ‘Sorry’. 



‘Thank you, Lord, for this new day’ (Come and Praise, 32)

Publication date: November 2013   (Vol.15 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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