To reflect on the ways in which choices are made and to understand the importance of hidden qualities
by The Revd Alan M. Barker
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To reflect upon the ways in which choices are made and to understand the importance of hidden qualities.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a bowl containing 6-8 items, including fruit such as satsumas, bananas and apples, and cereal bars. Also include a medium-sized potato containing a hidden 50 pence piece, and a knife. (Make a small incision in the potato and push the coin in edgeways so that it is completely hidden - this can be difficult with harder potatoes so prepare this well in advance.)
- Begin by saying that you'll need as many volunteers as there are 'goodies' in your bowl. Show everyone the pieces of fruit, etc. and shrug your shoulders at the potato - What's that doing here?
Explain that each volunteer will be able to choose something from the bowl to enjoy at break/after school. Who would like to take part?
- Faced with a forest of raised hands ask, How will I choose? Invite suggestions, such as: those who look oldest, or those who look youngest. But are they really what they seem?
Or what about those who appear most clever? How can you tell? Reflect with the children how fair choices can be made. Say that in this case you'll try to choose children from different classes and years, and about equal numbers of boys and girls, and children who you didn't pick for anything last time you did an assembly (if appropriate). Say that this might not be entirely fair but you are trying to be as fair as you can be in the circumstances. Sometimes that is all we can do when faced with choices and decisions.
- Having selected your volunteers, invite them to choose an item from the bowl. If the potato is left until last, commiserate with the one who has no choice. If it is chosen, then ask why. Reflect that a potato isn't an obvious choice, but perhaps someone anticipates a surprise!
- Invite the child with the potato to carefully cut it in half, or do it for them if he or she is a young child. Enjoy everyone's surprise when the 50 pence coin is discovered. Assure the finder that they can keep it to spend on whatever they like. It's their lucky day! They really do have a choice!
- Explain that the coin was deliberately hidden in the potato to help everyone to think about the way in which choices are made. What has been learned? Conclude that we shouldn't always judge things or other people by outward appearance. They may possess hidden qualities, not immediately obvious at a glance.
- If older children are present, refer to the popular saying, 'Don't judge a book by its cover'. In the Bible, St Paul speaks of 'treasure in earthen vessels' (2 Corinthians 4.7). He means that very special gifts are given to ordinary people - you can't judge by outward appearance.
For older children you could also read and briefly discuss Shakespeare's words from Twelfth Night:
In nature there's no blemish but the mind;
None can be called deformed but the unkind.
Time for reflection
It's not what we look like that matters,
but how we are inside.
Help us to discover the treasure hidden inside all of us,
and to thank you for it.
'Tis the gift to be simple' (Come and Praise, 97)