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The Best Gift at Christmas

The nativity play - An assembly in the 'Hello, Scruff!' series.

by Revd Sylvia Burgoyne

Suitable for Reception / Key Stage 1


To celebrate God's special gift to us.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a glove puppet or sock puppet of a donkey, called Scruff.
  • As the assembly begins, ensure that you already have Scruff the puppet on your hand.


1. Scruff waves to the children. Encourage them to say 'Hello Scruff!'
If this is the first time the children have met Scruff, you will need to use the following introduction.
Scruff lives on a farm with Lucy Jane, her mum, Mrs B, her dad, Farmer Brown, and her baby brother, Tom. 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. Today Scruff wants to tell you all about his exciting adventure.
It was the night of the school nativity play and Scruff was feeling rather nervous as Lucy Jane’s dad put him in the horse box for the short ride to school. Lucy Jane kept telling him that he would be the star of the show, and he didn't want to let her down. 
When they arrived at school lots of the boys and girls were waiting in the playground to give Scruff a stroke.
Soon it was time for the play to begin.

3. Lucy Jane was playing the part of Mary and she was dressed in a brand new costume. ‘Don’t be scared, Scruff,’ she whispered as she climbed on to his back.
Peter, who was playing the part of Joseph, gently led Scruff from the back of the school hall down through the audience. 
Scruff heard a little voice whispering: ‘Look, Mum, it’s a real donkey!’
‘Hee-haw! Hee-haw!’ replied Scruff, making everyone laugh.
When they arrived at the front, Joseph helped Mary down, and Scruff stood in the straw watching the play. He saw the baby in the manger. What a surprise! Scruff blinked and looked again. It was Tom, Lucy Jane’s new baby brother! Lucy Jane’s teacher had asked her mum if Tom could play the part of baby Jesus. So there he lay, fast asleep, with his big sister looking after him. 
The shepherds came running in. They were so happy to see the baby that they danced for him to a jolly tune played by Oscar on his recorder. Everyone clapped!
Then the four wise men arrived, and one by one they knelt by the manger and presented their gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh. And what was the gift the children had chosen for Simon to give? It was a beautiful music box, which played the tune of 'Away in a Manger', and as the angel choir flew in and stood behind Mary, Joseph and the baby in the manger, all the children sang this carol to end their play.

We can sing it too: if possible, sing the song 'Away in a Manger'.

Back in the stable, Lucy Jane was giving Scruff a goodnight stroke.
‘Wasn’t it lovely, Scruff? Just think, when Tom is a bit bigger and listens to his music box, I’ll be able to tell him about tonight, and how he was the baby Jesus. I like the story of Christmas. God gave us the best present of all - a baby!’
Lucy Jane stroked Scruff’s fur again. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said gently. ‘But perhaps you weren’t the star of the show after all, Scruff!'
She gave him a big hug, and a huge carrot.
‘Good night, Scruff!’

Time for reflection

We all love to receive presents at Christmas, but actually Christmas is really about giving.
What can you give this Christmas? The most important gift we can give to anyone is the gift of love.

Dear God,
Thank you that you love us so much that you gave us the gift of Jesus.


'Away in a Manger'

Publication date: December 2015   (Vol.17 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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