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The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But…

To show how easy it is for the truth to change through retelling. To consider the damaging effects of rumour and gossip

by Gordon and Ronni Lamont

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To show how easy it is for 'the truth' to change through retelling. To consider the damaging effects of rumour and gossip.

Preparation and materials

  • Make sure you are clear on how the game of 'Multiple Mimes' works.


  1. Ask if anyone knows the game 'Chinese Whispers'. Get a group of eight children to come to the front to demonstrate. Whisper something to the first person, such as, 'Sally said I saw sea shells on the sea shore, that's what Sally said she said, so there.'

    After each child has whispered to the next one, hear the final version and compare with what you originally said. Point out the obvious - the end is not a truthful representation of how it started.

  2. Introduce a new version of the game - 'Multiple Mimes'. This works in a similar fashion, but first the selected participants (five is probably about right) have to leave the room so they cannot see or hear what's going on. Then tell everyone else about a complicated mime you are going to perform, such as washing an elephant or building a boat.

    Send for the first participant (1) and ask them to watch the mime without speaking.

    The second participant (2) comes in. (1) then performs the mime, as closely as they can remember it while (2) watches.

    (2) then performs for (3), who then copies the mime for (4), who then mimes for (5).

    (5) performs the mime, then afterwards says what they think they were doing.

    Then ask each participant in turn what they thought they were doing.

    Repeat the game if you have the time.

  3. Explain that the truth is a bit like this game; it is easily changed or distorted if we are not very careful. This is how rumours grow - perhaps someone says something about someone, but when it is repeated it is a bit nastier or exaggerated in an unkind way and this continues until the truth is lost in gossip and rumour. Suggest that we all have to be very careful of what we say about each other.

Time for reflection

He said, she said, they said more
I heard him say (behind a closed door)
You said that, I said this about you
But now I'm lost - I don't know what's true!

Dear God,
Please help us always to think before we speak about other people.
Help us not to be part of unkind rumours or gossip.


'I may speak' (Come and Praise, 100)

Publication date: June 2003   (Vol.5 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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