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Running Away: The Story of Jonah

An assembly from the ‘Hello Scruff’ series

by The Revd Sylvia Burgoyne

Suitable for Reception / Key Stage 1


To understand that we can’t always do what we want.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a glove or sock puppet of a donkey.
  • Before the assembly, put on the puppet.


  1. As Scruff waves to the children, encourage them to say,

    'Hello, Scruff!' and wave back.

    If the children have not met Scruff before, you will need to use the introduction.

    Scruff lives on a farm with Lucy Jane; her mum, Mrs. B.; and her dad, Farmer Brown. Lucy Jane loves Scruff. She looks after him. She plays with him, and she talks to him, when she’s happy, and when she’s sad. Scruff is her best friend.

  2. 'It’s not fair, Scruff!' Lucy Jane was in the stable, giving Scruff his daily brush before she went off to school. 'Mum wants me to go to Auntie May’s house after school, and I’m to walk there with cousin Henry. I wish I didn’t have to go. Henry can be horrid. He never lets me play with his toys!' And then Lucy Jane whispered in his ear: 'I might go to the park instead and play with my friends.'

    Scruff didn’t like that idea, and he shook his head hard and brayed: 'Hee-haw, hee-haw!' But just then, Lucy Jane’s mum called her, and she ran across the farmyard and drove off in the car.

  3. It was around six o’clock when it started to rain heavily, but where was Lucy Jane? Scruff trotted across the yard to the kitchen door, where he heard Mrs. B. saying to Farmer Brown, 'I thought Auntie May would have brought Lucy Jane home in the car as it’s raining so hard. But I’ve just rung her and she said Henry came home from school on his own. He didn’t know where Lucy Jane was. Where can she be?'

    Scruff made as much noise as he could: 'Hee-haw, hee-haw!', and when Farmer Brown came to the door, he started tugging at his sleeve.

    'Hey! What is it, boy? Do you know where Lucy Jane is?'

    'Hee-haw, hee-haw!'

    (Do you know where she might be?)

    Farmer Brown told Mrs. B. to stay at home in case Lucy Jane arrived back, then, grabbing his coat and an umbrella, he hurried after Scruff, who was already trotting up the farm track. On they went, along the road, past the school, round the corner, and into the park.

    'Hee-haw, hee-haw!' brayed Scruff loudly, and a little voice sobbed:

    'Is that you, Scruff? I’m over here.' They found her huddled in the corner of the park shelter, tears running down her face. Farmer Brown sat her on his knee. 'Now, what’s all this about?'

    'I didn’t want to go with Henry. He can be such a bully. And I thought it would be fun to come here and play with my friends. But they soon went off home with their mums, and then it started to rain, and . . . and . . . I didn’t know what to do. I’m sorry, Dad.'

    'It was very naughty, coming here on your own. You need to thank Scruff, because without his help we wouldn’t have known where to start looking for you. Now, let’s get you home and tell mum you’re safe.'

    Lucy Jane promised that she would never run away again, and that night, she gave Scruff a huge hug, and an enormous carrot. 'Hee-haw, hee-haw,' he brayed happily.

    When Auntie May invited Lucy Jane for tea a few days later, this time, she walked home with Henry, who was on his best behaviour. He even asked her which games she would like to play! (Take off Scruff.)

  4. Jonah had heard lots of stories about the people who lived in the city called Nineveh. They were a bad lot - 'I’m never going anywhere near them,' thought Jonah. But God thought differently.

    He wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh. God wanted him to tell the people they must stop doing wrong things. Why should he? He wanted God to be angry with them. So Jonah decided he’d take a holiday. He’d sail in the opposite direction to Tarshish. But a huge storm blew up and everyone on board the ship thought they were going to sink.

    'It’s all my fault!' cried Jonah to the sailors. 'You see, I’m running away from God. Save yourselves and throw me overboard!' So they did, and at once the sea was calm.

    Jonah went down and down, but he didn’t drown because God sent along a huge fish which swallowed him whole. He had time to think sitting inside the stomach of the fish. 'What a fool I am! Did I really think I could run away from God? Are you there, God? Of course you are. You’re everywhere! I’m sorry I ran away. Please give me a second chance and I will go to Nineveh.'

    By now, the fish was complaining of tummy ache. Well, how would you feel if someone was walking around in your tummy? He gave an enormous burp, and spat Jonah out on to dry land.

    Jonah kept his promise to God. He went to Nineveh and told the people that God was tired of their bad behaviour, and they decided to say sorry.

    And God was pleased.

Time for reflection

Which would you rather do?

Help mum with the washing up OR play with your friends?

Do your reading practice OR watch your favourite TV programme?

Go shopping in the supermarket OR play football in the park?

Should we always do what we want?

Dear God, 
Help us to understand when we can’t do what we want. Help us to be willing and helpful people. 


'Kum ba yah' (Come and Praise, 68)

'Come, listen to my tale of Jonah and the whale' (Junior Praise)   

Publication date: September 2015   (Vol.17 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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