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Helping Matters

Helping makes a difference to those around us

by Jan Edmunds (revised, originally published in 2010)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To encourage responsibility and emphasize the importance of helping.

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask the children how many of them like to help. Ask them to really think about the question. Are they always willing to tidy away their toys? Do they help in class? How often do they help their parents?

  2. Show the images that depict household chores.

    As each picture is shown, ask the children to raise their hand if they enjoy helping with the task.

  3. Explain that you are going to tell the children a story about a little girl called Shakira. It isn’t a true story, but like all good stories, it has a special meaning for us.

    Shakira was five years old and was usually given everything she wanted: in fact, Shakira was rather spoiled. She desperately wanted a puppy for her birthday. She already had a hamster, but, although she played with it, she did not really think about looking after it. It was her mum who fed the hamster. It was her mum who gave it water. It was her mum who cleaned out the cage.

    ‘This is your hamster, Shakira,’ her mum would say, ‘but you do nothing to help look after it. How on earth can you expect to have a puppy when you do so little to care for your hamster? A puppy is not a toy and just playing with it is not enough. I think you need a lesson in helping!’

    Shakira’s mum decided to show Shakira what helping really meant. She continued to play games with Shakira and took her to the park, and they still had lots of fun together. But her mum stopped helping Shakira in a few ways. When Shakira’s clothes were dirty, her mum did not put them in the laundry basket. She did not make Shakira’s bed or tidy her room. Her mum didn’t make any meals especially for Shakira, so instead she had to eat food that she really didn’t like very much.

    At first, Shakira didn’t mind too much, but after a few days, she longed for her mum’s delicious cooking and she certainly didn’t like putting on dirty clothes. She didn’t like getting into an unmade bed. She couldn’t find anything among the mess in her bedroom. Shakira was not at all happy. Eventually, she said to her mum, ‘Please help me again. I do miss all the help you give me. I really do understand how important it is to help now.’

    Shakira’s mum felt that Shakira had learnt her lesson. It had been hard for her to stop helping, but the experiment had certainly worked. Shakira changed completely. Now she was always helping with jobs around the house. Most of all, she was looking after her hamster all by herself.

    A few months later, on her sixth birthday, Shakira got a wonderful surprise. ‘Now that you know how important it is to help,’ said her mum, ‘I think we can manage to take on another pet.’ Shakira was thrilled when her dad came in carrying a basket with a small, chubby black puppy inside.

    Although she learned the hard way, I think Shakira eventually deserved her puppy, don’t you?

  4. Ask the children what lessons they think that this story encourages us to learn.

    Listen to a range of responses.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to think about something that they could do today to help:

- in school
- in the playground
- at home

Challenge the children to do at least one new helpful thing today!

Lord of the loving heart, may mine be loving, too.
Lord of the gentle hands, may mine be gentle, too.
Lord of the willing feet, may mine be willing, too
So may I grow more like to you in all I say and do.


‘Kum ba yah’ (Come and Praise, 68)

Publication date: March 2017   (Vol.19 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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