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Forgiveness Matters

Josie and Jake learn about forgiveness

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 1


To learn about the power of forgiveness and importance of letting go of grudges.

Preparation and materials

  • Luggage tags with string attached.
  • Balloons (check allergy information).


1. Gather the children together to hear the story.

2. Tell the story: Josie and Jake learn about forgiveness.

Josie and Jake were friends. They had been friends in toddler group when they were just two years old and they had been friends in nursery when they were three and four year olds. Now they were big and grown up and in Reception/Class 1, but they were still good friends.

Josie was feeling very grumpy this morning. Nothing seemed to be going right for her. On the way to school Aaron had ridden past on his bike and splashed her new red tights. Then her friend Lucy hadn’t wanted to stand beside her in the line. Josie pretended not to care, but she was cross inside.

‘Good morning children,’ said Mrs Donaldson, their teacher. ‘Today we are going to talk about New Year. We are at the beginning of January. It’s a brand new year. Christmas is behind us and there are many new and exciting things ahead.’
‘At the start of a new year’, Mrs Donaldson continued, ‘people often take time to think about what they would like to do differently this year.
'Sometimes they make themselves promises. Some people say, "I will not eat as much chocolate as last year." These might be the people who have eaten too many sweeties over the Christmas holidays!
'Some people say, "I am going to get fit this year. Less TV and more walks."
'Some people say, "This is going to be the year when I study really hard and do well at school." 
'Some people say, "I am going to be kinder to my brother, sister or friends."
'We call these resolutions. A resolution means a decision. A resolution means I am going to decide to do something and I am really going to stick at it. This morning we are going to write our own resolutions for this New Year.'

Mrs Donaldson gave the children some luggage tags and asked them to write any resolutions they would like to make on them. Everyone got busy except Josie. She was still feeling grumpy and she didn’t want to think about new things. She was still thinking about old things. Things that had happened that morning. Things that were making her cross.

Aaron was busy writing his resolution. Josie felt annoyed when she looked at him. Lucy was busy writing her resolution. Josie signed sadly. Mrs Donaldson stopped at Josie’s desk.
‘Are you finding it hard to think of a resolution, Josie?’ she asked kindly.
Josie nodded.
‘I see your tights are all wet. Did you fall on the way to school this morning?’
‘No,’ said Josie angrily. ‘Aaron rode past me on his bike and soaked me.’
‘I see,’ said Mrs Donaldson
Aaron looked up.
‘Sorry, Josie,’ he said. ‘I didn’t mean to.’
‘And Lucy doesn’t want to be my friend anymore,’ Josie blurted out.
‘But I am your friend,’ replied Lucy, looking surprised.
‘Let’s stop for a few moments children,’ suggested Mrs Donaldson. ‘How many of you still have Christmas cards up at home? How many of you still have Christmas trees and decorations up? How many of you are still eating turkey? Imagine if we left our Christmas trees up all year. Imagine if all we had to eat turkey all year. That would be silly, wouldn’t it? Christmas and the Christmas holidays have been and gone, and it is time to move on. This is a very important lesson for us. We cannot start a New Year hanging on to the old year.’

Mrs Donaldson smiled at Josie as she continued.
‘Josie has started her day badly today. Imagine if she held on to all these disappointments and grumpy feelings tomorrow and the next day, and into February, and even right up to next Christmas. How do you think she would be feeling by then?’
 Josie laughed. ‘Very very cross,’ she said quietly.
‘I think we would all be feeling extremely cross by then,’ laughed Mrs Donaldson. ‘Can anyone suggest what Josie should do?’
‘Aaron and Lucy need to say sorry,’ suggested Melanie.
‘What a good answer!’ said Mrs Donaldson. ‘But there is one more thing.’
‘I need to forgive them,' whispered Josie sheepishly.
‘Well done,’ said Mrs Donaldson.
And everyone got back to work.
‘That could be my resolution,’ thought Josie. ‘I could decide to let go of my cross feelings. I could decide to forgive Aaron for making me wet and I could decide to forgive Lucy for not being my partner.’

At the end of the lesson Mrs Donaldson gave each child a balloon to which they attached their resolutions.
‘These will make the classroom look bright again,’ she said, looking round. ‘But Josie, there is something very special I want us to do with your balloon. Can we go take it outside?’
The children all watched as Josie let her balloon go. Higher and higher it went up into the sky until it couldn’t be seen any more.
Josie felt strangely happy.
‘You see, children - when we forgive and let go of hurts and disappointments and angry feelings, we feel free, just like that balloon,’ explained Mrs Donaldson. ‘Now, who would like some leftover Christmas chocolate?’

Time for reflection

Are there any ‘old things’ we need to let go of before we can enjoy a new year?
Like Josie, is there anyone we need to forgive?

Suggest that the children pick up a luggage label on the way out of assembly to record their resolutions. You may like to tie them on to balloons as Josie did in the story.

Dear God,
Thank you that you want us to be free and to enjoy life.
You know that we make many mistakes and often do wrong, but you are always willing to forgive us our sins.
Please help us to forgive others when they hurt us.


'When I needed a neighbour were you there?' (Come and Praise)

Publication date: January 2016   (Vol.18 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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