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Fables 2: Greed

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To show how we should not be jealous or greedy regarding that which belongs to others.

Preparation and materials

  • For a bit of background to Aesop’s fables and different ways of approaching and presenting the fable included here, see the assembly ‘Fables 1: Fair-weather friends’, which presented the fable ‘The hare with many friends’ (originally in September 2014), at:
  • Present the fable ‘The dog in the manger’ in the ‘Assembly’, Step 2, either by the children acting or miming it or you simply retelling the story.


1. Introduce Aesop by telling the children that he lived a long time ago, in the sixth century BC. He was Greek and a slave, but is now a household name because of the moral tales that he told, with animals as the characters. Each of Aesop's stories has a moral at the end. These tales are known as ‘fables’.

2. Tell the children that you are going to read them one of Aesop’s fables now.

The dog in the manger

A dog, looking out for somewhere to take his afternoon nap, jumped into the manger of an ox. It was warm and snug there in the straw and soon the dog was snoozing away comfortably.

A little while later, along came the ox, hungry from all the hard work he had been doing. He came up to the manger, more than ready to eat the straw for his tea.

Just then, the dog awoke from his slumbers, sprang up in a fury and barked at the ox to keep him away. Try as he might, the ox could not get near, for fear of being bitten by the dog. What a cross dog he was!

At last, the ox decided that he would have to give up all hope of getting his straw supper – even though the dog could not possibly eat it himself. So, as he went away, he remembered this moral:

There are always some people who grudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves.

3. In the story ‘The dog in the manger’, the dog stops the ox from eating the straw even though there is plenty and he cannot eat it himself as he was comfortable and wanted to carry on sleeping. He put his own needs before the ox's, even though he had no right to.

4. Jesus told a story in Matthew 20.1–15 rather like this, about people working in a vineyard who thought that they should be paid more money than the other workers, even though they had been happy to accept that price when they had been offered it before.

Jesus used the story to show how, in God's kingdom, there is no room for jealousy or people behaving badly because they think they have a right to things. Each person's needs and situation are different. No happiness can come from trying to stop other people having what they are entitled to, even if it seems unfair. 

Time for reflection

Sometimes we want what we cannot have or we try to hold on to something that is not really ours.


Help us to understand that we must respect other people and not be jealous of them.
Help us also to give thanks for the things that really are ours to enjoy.

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