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A Tissue of Lies

Reflecting on the nature of lies

by The Revd Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To reflect upon the nature of lies.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a toilet roll (most appropriately Andrex!).
  • A colleague should be primed to challenge you (see 2. below).


  1. Invite the children to recall a word that means 'not telling the truth'. Focus upon the meaning of the words 'lying', 'lies' and 'liar'.

  2. Allow a colleague to interject with the challenge: Have you ever told a lie?

    Respond initially by saying, No, of course not. Then apologize and say, Yes, of course I have. Reflect further by saying: Haven't most of us told a lie at some time? Perhaps we thought it was only a small lie - and that lying wouldn't do any harm. Maybe that was true, but the trouble with lies is that they can become bigger and stronger than we are.

  3. Invite a child or colleague to help demonstrate what you mean. Explain that you are going to tell a story and use some tissue to show how strong lies can become. You could refer to the phrase 'a tissue of lies', saying that it means that lies are often woven together - in other words, more lies are added to the first.

    Ask the helper to hold out their hands together and show how, each time a lie is told, the toilet tissue will be wrapped once around their wrists. Wind a single band and allow the helper to tear through it by pulling their hands apart.

  4. Tell the following story, or another of your own making. Invite the children to put up their hands when they think they hear Chloe tell a lie (marked with a *) in the story and each time be ready to wind another layer of tissue around your helper's wrists.

    Jessica and Chloe were friends. One day, during playtime, Jessica asked Chloe, 'Will you come to my house to play on Saturday? Mum says you can.'

    Chloe didn't really want to. That afternoon she wanted to feel more important than Jessica. 'No, I can't come,' she boasted. 'Dad's promised me a puppy and we're going to get it.'*

    It was a lie. Chloe's dad hadn't promised her a puppy, but Jessica didn't know that. She simply said, 'All right then,' and ran off to join some other friends.

    'I got out of that one', thought Chloe. 'Easy!' (Allow your helper to break through the single band of tissue.)

    But lying doesn't always make things as easy as you might think. The lie Chloe had told wouldn't go away. (Start another band of tissue.)

    A few moments later, Adam saw Chloe. 'Jessica told me you're getting a puppy.'

    'Yes,'* said Chloe, 'on Saturday*, from the kennels.'*

    'Great,' laughed Adam.

    Jessica returned. 'You're so lucky. What kind of puppy will it be?'

    Chloe thought quickly: 'One of those puppies you see in the TV adverts - a golden one.'*
    'Wow! And what will you call it?'

    'He's called Goldie.'*

    'Can I come with you when you take it for walks?'

    'Of course you can,'* said Chloe.

    Back in the classroom, it seemed as if everyone had heard!

    'Are you getting a puppy?' asked Jade enviously.

    'Yes,'* said Chloe again.

    'Won't that be fun!' whispered Kevin.

    'Yes,'* whispered Chloe.

    Chloe enjoyed all the attention. But she knew that what she'd said wasn't true and secretly she didn't feel very comfortable. She was rather pleased when home-time came.

    On Monday morning, Chloe had almost forgotten how she had boasted and told lies to her friends the week before. But when Jessica met her in the playground the first thing that she asked was, 'Did you get your puppy?'

    What could Chloe say? There was no puppy. But because she'd lied all her friends thought she had one.

    'No,' she said, 'we haven't got the puppy.'

    Jessica was surprised: 'Why not?'

    Now, Chloe didn't want anyone to know that she'd made up a story that wasn't true and so she continued: 'Because the kennels said it wasn't big enough yet.'* The words tumbled out and Chloe felt awful - the lies seemed so strong that she just couldn't escape from them!

  5. Turn to the helper, who will now have nine or more layers of tissue wrapped around their wrists. Add a few more for good measure, commenting how the story shows that lies are so often linked together. Then ask the helper to try to pull their hands apart. This will prove difficult, even impossible! Reflect that one lie may seem a little thing, but that lies can grow and become so strong that we struggle to escape from them.

  6. Invite the children to review what they have learned through the story.

Time for reflection

Dear God,
Help us to know the truth,
and to speak the truth,
today and always.


'Make me a channel of your peace' (Come and Praise, 147)

Publication date: April 2003   (Vol.5 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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