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To explore the idea that we need to learn to listen to what is important

by The Revd Guy Donegan-Cross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To explore the idea that we need to learn to listen to what is important.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need an amusing phrase, written on a card - see 2. below.
  • Some coins to drop on the floor.
  • Optional: the sound of a cricket (you can get one by opening Eric Carle's book The Very Quiet Cricket).


  1. Ask the children, who do they listen to when they need advice? Take a few answers.

  2. Ask six children to stand in a line, each about two feet apart. Show the rest of the assembly an amusing phrase, written on a card. Whisper this sentence into the ear of the first child: e.g. 'I'm wearing a pink vest' or 'I love bird seed and custard'. The six volunteers then play Chinese whispers, each whispering what they hear to the next in line.
    Ask the last child to tell you what they think the phrase is. Give a round of applause and ask the six to sit down.

  3. Say that really listening is hard. We need to learn to listen. And we need to learn to listen to what is important. Tell this story:

    A Native American and his friend were walking near Times Square in New York. The streets were filled with people, cars were honking their horns, taxicabs were squealing around corners, and sirens were wailing. Suddenly, the Native American stops and says, 'I hear a cricket.'

    His friend is astounded. 'What? You must be crazy. You couldn't possibly hear a cricket in all of this noise!'

    'No, I'm sure of it,' the Native American said. 'I heard a cricket.'

    'That's crazy,' said his friend.

    The Native American listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to where some shrubs were growing. He looked into the bushes and sure enough, he located a small cricket. His friend was utterly amazed.

    'That's incredible,' said his friend. 'You must have super-human ears!'

    'No,' said the Native American. 'My ears are no different from yours.'

    'But that can't be!' said the friend. 'I could never hear a cricket in this noise.'

    'Yes, you could,' came the reply. 'Here, let me show you.'

    He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and dropped them on the pavement. (Drop some coins on the floor.) And then, with the noise of the crowded street still blaring in their ears, they noticed every head within 5 metres turn and look to see if the money that tinkled on the pavement was theirs.

    'See what I mean?' asked the Native American. 'It all depends on what's important to you, on what you're listening for.'

  4. Explain that Christians believe the most important person to listen to is God. He wants to speak to us. If appropriate, you could briefly tell the story of Samuel hearing God (1 Samuel 3.1-18), in your own words.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to be quiet, close their eyes, and listen. If you have it, play the noise of a cricket. If not, ask them to listen to the sounds around them, nearby, in the assembly room, and those coming from outside.

Dear Lord,
You want to speak to us.
Help us to learn to hear your voice
in your world
in your book
through other people
and by being still in front of you.


'I listen' (Come and Praise, 60)

Publication date: September 2003   (Vol.5 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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