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Animals Are Special

Pets are special 'St Francis' Day on 4 October

by Alan M. Barker (revised, originally published in 2007)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To consider caring for pets in the light of St Francis’ Day on 4 October.

Preparation and materials

  • This assembly could be used at any time of the year, although it is particularly suitable for St Francis’ Day on 4 October. More information about St Francis is available at: http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/uk/st-francis-assisi-feast

  • You will need a copy of the popular children’s book, Ginger Finds a Home by Charlotte Voake (Walker Books, 2003). Alternatively, you could use any other book about caring for pets.

  • Optional: you may wish to display some pictures of cats during the assembly.

Assembly

  1. Begin by asking how many of the children have a cat (or cats) at home or in their neighbourhood. What are their names? What do they eat? How do they behave when they are hungry . . . and when they are full? Do any of the children help to care for a cat?

  2. Reflect that many cats are lucky and are well cared for. Some, however, are unwanted and become ‘strays’, meaning that they have no one to look after them and nowhere to live. Has anyone given a home to a stray cat?

  3. Introduce and read the story, Ginger Finds a Home.

  4. Ask the children to consider how Ginger’s behaviour gradually changed after meeting the little girl. Invite them to observe how Ginger became tamer. At first, he ran away when the little girl tried to stroke him, but after a while, ‘he came when she called, and when she stroked him, he purred’. Invite the children to describe how Ginger might have felt going into the house. ‘He’d never been in a house before!’

  5. The little girl was worried that she had frightened Ginger away. What made him come back? Emphasize the ways in which the little girl treated Ginger with kindness and gentleness.

  6. Sing the following song to the nursery rhyme tune, with appropriate actions (words by Alan M. Barker, 2007).

    Pussy cat, pussy cat,
    why do you stray?
    Here is some dinner,
    please don’t run away.

    Pussy cat, pussy cat,
    can I stroke your fur?
    When you are happy, 
    then you’ll start to purr.

    Pussy cat, pussy cat,
    why do you roam?
    There’s room for a pussy cat
    to share my home.

  7. Reflect that, although many people would like to give a home to a stray cat or other animal, it is a big responsibility. Animals need to be properly cared for. They require feeding and attention every day, especially when they grow old. They sometimes need to go to the vet for injections or medicine. Cats can live for over 15 years! It’s very important to remember this before giving any animal a home. Not to do so would be cruel.

  8. Conclude by explaining that a very famous Christian saint is remembered for his gentleness and kindness towards animals. His name is St Francis. He called the creatures his brothers and sisters. It was a way of showing them respect. Like the little girl in the story and like St Francis, we can show our respect for cats and other creatures through gentleness and kindness. St Francis’ Day is on 4 October. It is a special time to remember the importance of caring for animals.

    Sing a concluding verse to the song in Step 6 above.

    Pussy cat, pussy cat,
    asleep on my knee.
    You’re special to God,
    and you’re special to me!

Time for reflection

Think of any animals you know: pets, wild animals, animals in farms or animals in zoos.

- Are you always kind and helpful to them?
Do you give pets the attention and care they need?
Can you do more for the animals around you that share your world?

Prayer
Dear God,
Thank you for our pets and for their company and friendship.
Help us to care for them well and to treat them with gentleness and kindness,
Today and always.
Amen.

Song/music

‘From the tiny ant’ (Come and Praise, 79)

‘The prayer of St Francis (Make me a channel of your peace)’ (Come and Praise, 147)

Publication date: October 2016   (Vol.18 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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