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He Built His House on Sand

Everyday sayings from the Bible. To explore their relevance today.

by Peter Mattacola

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To appreciate how sayings from the Bible have become part of our everyday language. To explore the relevance of this saying today.

Preparation and materials

  • Familiarize yourself with the story of the parable Jesus told from the Bible (Matthew 7.24-27).
  • The story could be demonstrated with toy houses, first on a sand base and then on a plasticine or Blu-Tack base. You could use a transparent waterproof container or a sand tray.
  • Read through the school story in advance.


  1. Tell the story of the wise and foolish builders, either using your own words, or read from a children's bible. (If demonstrating, show how water washes away the sand.) Explain that one interpretation (meaning) of the story is that Jesus was saying we should take advice from people who know what they are talking about when making important life decisions.

  2. Say that we are going to think about how this could apply in our school, and tell the following story.

    Fiona was a bright girl, but she was not very good at listening to advice. She was in Year 6, and her teacher told her that she could get top marks in her SATs, and go on to do very well at secondary school, but only if she worked hard.

    Fiona lived with her mum, who had to go out to work. This meant that her mum didn't have time to help her with her schoolwork as much as she would have liked. Her mum trusted Fiona's teachers to do their best for her - after all, she knew Fiona was a clever girl!

    Although Fiona was bright, she was lazy. She didn't like pushing herself to do her best, or spending time doing homework. She relied on being able to work things out quickly in her head. Her teacher warned her that she would have to put in some extra hours to get the grades she was capable of. But instead Fiona chose to listen to the advice of some of her older friends, in Years 7 and 8. They told her she was clever enough to do well in her tests without doing homework - after all, they found the tests easy, and anyway, they weren't that important.

    In the spring, as the evenings became warmer, Fiona and her friends went out every night and hung around with the boys in the village. She didn't spend any time on her schoolwork. Sometimes she conveniently lost the homework her teacher had given her to help her prepare for the tests. She told her mum lies night after night, saying that she hadn't been given any homework to do.

    By the time the tests finally came, Fiona had lost her motivation to succeed. She tried hard in the actual tests, but she realized that she had not done enough preparation. When she got her results her grades were very low. Her teacher was disappointed and Fiona felt upset, and silly too. How she wished that she had listened to those who knew better than she did.

    At secondary school, Fiona had to miss some lessons - the ones where they were allowed to choose their favourite subjects - to attend catch-up classes, because she hadn't achieved the levels predicted by her teacher. This made her feel ashamed. She knew that she had not listened to the good advice of those who knew best, but that she had made important decisions, which affected her life, based on what foolish, self-interested so-called friends had said to her. She had built her house on sand.

  3. Talk about the story and ask the children to think about any parts of their lives where they may be in danger of building on sand. Finish by telling how Fiona was able to catch up her grades and went on to do well in her GCSEs but she had to work very hard in her early years at secondary school, sometimes missing out on doing the things she really wanted to.

Time for reflection

Think about who the important people in your life are, those who you can trust to give you good advice. Think about the story again - what does it mean to you?

Dear God,
Thank you for the people we can trust.
Help us to be wise and know when to take good advice
so that we make the best decisions
and build on solid ground.


'All over the world' (Come and Praise, 61)

Publication date: March 2003   (Vol.5 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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