St George and the dragon
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To teach about the symbolism of dragons in myths and endangered real dragons.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and three readers/actors to be George, the dragon and a maiden.
- You will also need some props:
– for George – a toy sword, shield and so on. If possible, include the cross of St George (red cross on a white background) on the shield or breastplate or simply in the form of a flag
– cover a large book, creating a new front jacket and spine with the title Dragon Identification Guide
– a dragon mask
– rope, to tie up maiden.
- Note that the second paragraph of the leader's last speech in Step 3 is optional, as it is more suitable for older children.
- The background information regarding St George is that he was a popular medieval saint and is of obscure origin – he may even never have existed. If he did, then he was probably a martyr who died in the reign of Diocletian. The story of his fight with the dragon seems to be a medieval invention. His feast day is 23 April. For further information, with some fine pictures, visit: www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/stgeorge.html
- Leader Let's begin with a few questions – just to test whether or not you remember anything about dragons.
– Where in the world can you find Komodo dragons?
– How big can Komodo dragons grow to?
– What do Komodo dragons like to eat?
Well done. Komodo dragons are one of the many wonderful creatures that live in the world, but whose existence is threatened by human activity. Many other marvellous animals haven't been so lucky and they are now extinct. One of the most famous of these is the Dodo. Has anyone ever heard of it? Can you think of any other creatures that are in danger of being wiped out?
- Leader Back to dragons. Here's a story set in a time when such fantastic creatures apparently roamed the Earth.
Enter George, with cross of St George, shield, sword and so on.
George Hello – the name's George, St George . . . the Lord Almighty's Number One, ice-cool, shaken-but-never-stirred bad guy whacker and dragon smacker. I'm armed with a plutonium carbide BMW MG shield and Mark III sidewinder-tornado triple-edged sword. So . . . are there any wyverns, worms, hydras, Japanese, Chinese or ancient Norse DRAGONS anywhere around here? Because, if there are, then they'd better watch out!
Maiden (Tied up with the rope.) Help, help, HELP!
George Hello there, fair maiden. My name's George, St George . . . the Lord Almighty's Number One, ice-cool, shaken-but-never-stirred . . .
Maiden Stop! I need help – or are you just a pretty face? Quick, untie me before the dragon comes back and gobbles me up!
Dragon Too late!!! I'm going to gobble her up – starting with her head!
George Tally ho!
George and the dragon fight. The dragon falls to the ground. George holds his sword over the dragon.
George Prepare to die!
Leader Stop! You aren't going to kill the dragon are you? Perhaps it's an endangered species! What does the audience think?
Gather opinions from the children.
George I don't care about public opinion – this dragon has to die!
George stabs the dragon and then unties the distressed maiden.
George OK, baby, let's ride off into the sunset!
Exit George and maiden.
- Leader Oh dear – he's killed the dragon. I wonder if it was an endangered Komodo dragon . . . or perhaps it was a much more common kind?
Consult large book entitled Dragon Identification Guide.
Leader Actually, according to this book, the dragon is a 'symbolic dragon'. It isn't a real dragon at all. A ‘symbol’ is something that stands for something else. In this case, the dragon is a symbol – a picture – of selfishness and greed.
The story of St George and the dragon is well known. For hundreds of years, little plays like this, telling the story of St George's fight against the dragon, have been acted all across Britain. The story, though, is not really about a human being killing a dragon, it's about a person fighting against a beast that lives inside each of us. Dragons are often used as a symbol of human greed. This is because dragons are often associated with hoards of gold and jewels. Perhaps some of you have read J.R.R. Tolkein's The Hobbit. There's a fierce dragon in that book – Smaug – who lives in a cave, on top of a pile of gold and jewels.
So, don't feel too sorry for this particular dragon!
We've been thinking about Komodo dragons – the real ‘dragons’ that are being threatened by human beings greedily destroying the land where they live. Dragons have never lived in Britain (unless the Loch Ness monster really does exist!), though once there were beavers, bears and wolves, all of which have been driven to extinction because they were thought to threaten humans. Perhaps if we can conquer the dragon of greediness that lives inside us, then more of these creatures will have space to live.
I’m going to read you now a passage from Ephesians 6.10–17 (NIV). The image used is of a Christian being like a soldier struggling to overcome all the things that stand against God. Paul wrote this in one of his letters in the Bible.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes . . . Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist . . . take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit . . .
Time for reflection
Help each one of us to be like St George,
to fight against all of those things inside us –
selfishness, jealousy, greediness –
that spoil your world.
'He who would valiant be' (Come and Praise, 44)