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Time to Listen

by Alison Thurlow

Suitable for Key Stage 1/2


To encourage us to be good listeners (SEAL theme: Getting on and falling out).

Preparation and materials

  • You could prepare the questions used in the introductory quiz in the ‘Assembly’, Step 1, and those featured in the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly as images and display them so the children can read as well as hear them.
  • Familiarize yourself with the story of Martha and Mary in the Bible at Luke 10.38–42.


1. Explain that today we’re all going to be thinking about getting on and falling out with our friends and you have a little quiz for them to do first.

Say that you will read out the questions in the quiz one at a time, but for each question there are two possible answers. They must vote for the answer they would choose by putting their hands up.

– What would you rather do at playtime – play football or sit on a bench and chat to your friends?

– What do you prefer to do with your friends – play on a games console or go swimming?

– If your best friend was away, would you – sit on your own for a day or go and sit by somebody else?

– If there was a new boy in your class, what would you do – ignore him or go and play with him?

– If someone was bullying you in the playground, what would you do – hit the bully or go and tell a teacher?

– If you had fallen out with your friend, what would you do – go and tell everyone else how horrible your friend is or try to make up?

2. Point out that the children had some choices to make in the quiz, all of them to do with friends.

In the first three questions, the choices they made were up to them – their answers depended on personal likes and dislikes. In each of the last three questions, however, they could have made a good or a bad choice with their answer. The choices they made could either help them to get on with their friends or cause them to fall out with their friends.

3. Say that now you are going to tell them a story from the Bible about two sisters and, in the story, the two sisters nearly fall out about something.

Martha and Mary

Jesus and his friends the disciples were travelling along the road when they arrived at a village. It was lunchtime and they were all feeling a bit peckish so a lady called Martha invited them to her house for lunch. Martha had a sister called Mary who lived in the same house with her.

Martha dashed round in a frenzy, trying to get all the food ready. She also had a duster in her pocket and kept giving things an extra shine so that everything was clean and spotless for when Jesus arrived.

When Jesus and the disciples arrived, Mary just sat down by Jesus and listened carefully to all the things he was saying and all the things he was teaching people about God.

Martha was getting more and more exhausted and she was upset, too, that her sister did not offer to help her. Eventually she blurted out, ‘Jesus, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Won’t you tell her to come and help me?’

‘Martha,’ Jesus replied kindly, ‘don’t get so upset. On this occasion your sister Mary has made the right choice. She has listened carefully and learned lots of important things about God and these things will not be taken away from her.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to turn quietly to the person sitting next to them and talk about the following three questions, one at a time.

– Why did Martha feel so cross with Mary in the story?

– In the story, Jesus told Martha that it was sometimes good just to sit and listen. Why is it important to listen to your friends?

– How can listening to your friends help you to not fall out?

After each question and after the children have had a few moments to consider their responses, listen to a few of the answers they give.

Conclude by emphasizing the importance of listening to others. If appropriate, you might like to suggest that Christians believe it is a good idea to listen to what Jesus has to say to us by reading about him in the Bible.


Dear Lord,
Thank you for today’s Bible story about listening.
Please help me to make time to listen to my friends.


‘I have got a special book, the Bible is its name’ by Ishmael (Kingsway and Thankyou Music, 2003)

‘God gave me ears so I can hear’ by Julie Booth (Kingsway and Thankyou Music, 2001)

Publication date: April 2015   (Vol.17 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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