Monty and Mabel
by Alan M. Barker
Suitable for Key Stage 1/2
To focus upon Christmas as a time for friendship.
Preparation and materials
You will need:
- to be able to show John Lewis’s 2014 Christmas advert featuring Monty the Penguin. It can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iccscUFY860
Synopsis: Monty is a toy penguin belonging to Sam, and is alive in his imagination. As Christmas draws near Monty longs for the company and friendship of another penguin. On Christmas morning both Monty and Sam are not disappointed;
- strips of brightly coloured paper and a stapler to make a paper chain in step 3 of this assembly;
- a cherished soft toy (optional).
- (Optional introduction) Produce your toy and begin with the thought that many people cherished a soft toy when they were young children. Recall your toy’s name. Describe how it accompanied you at bedtimes and on adventures, both imaginary and real!
- Invite everyone to watch the John Lewis 2014 Christmas advert. Ask what activities are being enjoyed together. Refer to the closing scenes that portray Christmas as a time to enjoy with friends and family.
- Introduce the paper-chain strips and show how they can be linked. Ask the question, ‘What are the activities that connect you to friends and family at Christmas?’ Write each response on a strip and enlist the help of some older children to join them together. Explain that this is a ‘chain of friendship’. The shared activities might include: putting up decorations, sending and receiving cards, visiting Father Christmas, watching television, enjoying meals, going to parties, playing games, singing carols, celebrating at church, calling upon relatives. Challenge everyone to add to the chain but leave a few links over.
- Reflect how, in the Christmas story, friendship was shown by the innkeeper who offered Mary and Joseph help and shelter when they were far from home.
- Then refer to the leftover paper-chain links and observe that, as some of the children will know, Christmas can be a lonely and difficult time for people on their own. Sometimes, like Monty, we need a special friend. That’s when ‘care’, ‘welcome’ and ‘understanding’ can mean so much. Reflect upon the significance of these qualities as you write the words on the remaining strips and add them to the chain.
- Echo the thought that Christmas is a festival to celebrate with others. The links of the chain celebrate a Christmas gift that, as Monty and Mabel knew, can’t be bought – the special gift of love and friendship.
Time for reflection
Invite everyone to be thankful for love, friendship and Christmas celebrations.
brighten our Christmas with the gift of friendship.
We pray for any who feel lonely or sad.
May they find a place of care, welcome and understanding.
‘Christmastime is here’ (Come and Praise2, 127)
'Christmas has started’ (Songs for EVERY Christmas by Mark and Helen Johnson, Out of the Ark Music)