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A Big Surprise for Everyone

The very first Christmas was a big surprise!

by Rebecca Parkinson (revised, originally published in 2007)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To explore the idea that Jesus was a surprise.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need some or all of the following: a Christmas stocking, a Christmas cracker, a wrapped-up present, an Advent calendar and a lucky dip bag.


  1. Ask the children if they have ever had a big surprise. Ask one or two children to tell you about their big surprises and, if possible, share with them a big surprise that has happened to you.

  2. Show the children the objects one at a time and ask how each one is connected with a surprise. For example, the stocking will be full of surprises on Christmas morning; you have to pull the cracker to find the small surprise present and a joke; you don’t know what is in the present until you open it, so that will be a surprise and so on.

  3. Explain that Christmas is a great time for surprises, but Christians believe that it all began with a surprise from God. The Jewish nation had believed for a long time that God was going to send a great king and leader. God didn’t send a great king, though; instead, he sent a tiny baby born to ordinary, poor people – what a surprise!

  4. To many people, the idea of God sending a tiny baby seemed so unlikely that they didn’t believe that Jesus could be God’s special one. However, Christians believe that Jesus was sent from God to show how much God loves us. That is why they think Christmas is a time for celebration.

  5. Read out the following poem or ask one of the children to do so.

    Surprise, surprise!
    It’s not what you expected . . .
    Your new car’s made of jelly.
    Your cat’s wearing a shoe.
    Your pencils have gone smelly.
    And your teachers have turned blue!
    The school is flying in the air.
    Your mum has grown two wings.
    The moon is underneath your chair.
    That table starts to sing!
    . . . and is that baby, born in a stable to that pair of nobodies, really a king?

Time for reflection

Ask the children if they can remember any of the silly surprises in the poem. You may like to reread it.

Ask the children to think of a surprise that they have had in the past, or a surprise that they hope they may have in the future!

Remind them that Christmas is full of wonderful surprises, but let’s not forget the surprise that started Christmas . . . baby Jesus!

Dear God,
Thank you for surprises that come in all shapes and sizes.
Thank you for presents and the joy of giving and receiving.
Thank you for your first Christmas surprise – baby Jesus!
During all our fun this year, please help us to stop and remember what Christmas really means.


Any Christmas song.

Publication date: December 2016   (Vol.18 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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