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Cheerful Givers

We can all be generous!

by Alison Thurlow

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To encourage children to think about generosity and being cheerful givers.

Preparation and materials

  • If possible, have some images and the means to display them to illustrate the story of Zacchaeus during the assembly. Alternatively, there is a very good version of the story in The Lion Storyteller Bible by Bob Hartman (Lion, 3013) called ‘Jesus and the Taxman’ that you could read if you prefer.
  • Work out a simple hand jive to go with the song ‘If you know God’s love’ by Chris Medway in 250 Songs for Children’s Praise and Worship by Children’s Ministry (Kingsway, 2006) and elsewhere (optional).  


  1. Ask the children if they all had a good Christmas. Then ask them to think back to all the presents they received and do a quick calculation in their heads, adding up how many there were. Then, ask them to put their hands up when they hear the total that applies to them.

    – More than 10 presents?
    – More than 20 presents?
    – More than 30 presents?

  2. Ask the children to do a similar calculation for how many presents they gave to other people and, once again, put their hands up when they hear the total that applies to them.

    – More than 5 presents?
    – More than 10 presents?
    – More than 15 presents?

  3. Comment that most of them seem to have received more presents than they gave. Then ask, ‘Who likes receiving presents?’ and, ‘Who likes giving presents?’ 

    Explain that they are now going to hear a story from the Bible about a man called Zacchaeus. Ask them to listen carefully and see if they can hear how Zacchaeus changed from being someone who took a lot to someone who gave a lot.

  4. Display the images as you read the story, if using.

    Zacchaeus the tax collector

    Jesus was walking through the town of Jericho, which was the town where a man named Zacchaeus lived. 

    Zacchaeus was a very rich man, but he was not very popular because he was a tax collector and he often cheated people out of their money. 

    Zacchaeus was also a very short man – too short to see over the heads of the people in front of him. This was a shame because Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, too, so he came up with a clever plan: he climbed up into a sycamore tree so that he would get a good view of Jesus.

    Then a strange thing happened. Jesus stopped when he got to that particular tree, looked up and said in a loud voice, ‘Come down, Zacchaeus! I want to have dinner at your house today.’ The crowd started grumbling loudly, ‘Why does Jesus want to go to Zacchaeus’ house? Doesn’t he know that Zacchaeus is a bad man?’

    Zacchaeus slid down from the branches of the tree as quickly as he could and welcomed Jesus into his house. 

    Later that day, Zacchaeus came out of his house and said that he had an announcement to make. ‘I’ve done some bad things and I now know that I need to change. I am going to give half of what I own to the poor and I will pay you all back four times what I stole from you.’

    Jesus told Zacchaeus that he was now part of God’s family. Then he turned to the crowd and explained that he, Jesus, had been sent by God to share God’s love with everyone, even with people who had done some pretty bad things.

  5. Ask the children why they think Zacchaeus changed from being a greedy and selfish man to being a very generous one. 

    Suggest that, when he met Jesus, his life seemed to change completely and he became like a new person, a much nicer person!

Time for reflection

Tell the children that there are lots of things we can be generous with, not just money. Ask them to turn to the person next to them and quietly talk about some of the things they could be generous with or share with others today. They may suggest time, friendship, listening, a kind word, possessions, a smile. Listen to a few of their answers.

Dear Lord,
Thank you that, in today’s story, Zacchaeus changed from being greedy to being generous.
Please help us to be generous and be cheerful givers in school and at home.


‘If you know God’s love’ by Chris Medway (Children’s Ministry, 250 Songs for Children’s Praise and Worship, Kingsway, 2006) 

Publication date: January 2015   (Vol.17 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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