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What’s Inside the Cracker?

Anticipating good things!

by Helen Redfern (revised, originally published in 2010)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the anticipation felt at Christmas, both before the first Christmas and today.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need two or more traditional Christmas crackers and one homemade cracker that contains a picture of baby Jesus in the stable. If you prefer, to make the homemade cracker, you could gently pull apart a traditional cracker, insert the picture and then seal it up again.

  • You may wish to arrange for a child to read the Bible passage from the Book of Isaiah in the ‘Assembly’, Step 4, in which case he or she may need time to rehearse prior to the assembly.


  1. Ask the children, What are you most looking forward to this Christmas?

    Note: you could ask this as a question for the children to answer in pairs, take answers from the front or let the children consider it before you offer the following suggestions:

    –  parties
    –  special times with family
    –  the food
    –  singing Christmas songs
    –  the magic of it all

    Most of us look forward to something at Christmas. The anticipation that we feel is sometimes as much fun as Christmas itself!

  2. Ask for some volunteers to come forward.

    Give each child a Christmas cracker (not the homemade one).

    Ask the children how they feel about having a cracker in their hand. (Try to draw out feelings of excitement and anticipation.)

    Ask questions such as How much do you want to pull the cracker and see what’s inside?’ and What do you expect to find inside?

  3. Now encourage the children to pull their crackers.

    Allow the children some time to enjoy the contents and then ask them what they think of what’s inside.

    Crackers are really exciting because the contents are a surprise. Sometimes, we’re pleased with the gift inside and sometimes, we’re disappointed.

  4. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the Jewish people were excited about the coming of a Saviour. Enemies of the Jews had attacked their land and taken them all away as prisoners. The Jewish people had been forced to settle down in a foreign country. They were homesick and longed to go back to their homes in their own villages and towns.

    However, a man called Isaiah told them about a Saviour who was going to come to set them free. Isaiah proclaimed, ‘For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom.’

  5. Wow! A child! Mighty God! Prince of Peace! Endless peace! No more suffering! Freedom from exploitation! The people must have been so excited. The anticipation must have been almost too much to bear. It would have been a million times more thrilling than holding a cracker in your hand!

  6. Pick up the homemade cracker.

    Invite another volunteer to pull the cracker with you and hold up the picture of baby Jesus so that everyone can see it.

  7. Christians believe that Jesus birth was the fulfilment of the prophecy that Isaiah had made many years before. However, it was quite a surprise. A mighty king born in a stable? With poor parents?

  8. There were various reactions to Jesus’ birth.

    – King Herod, the man who was king when Jesus was born, tried to kill him.
    – Many Jews were disappointed at the circumstances of Jesus birth and couldn’t believe that he was the one who had been promised long ago. They protested to their friends, saying, ‘What a letdown! A king? No way! A Saviour? You must be joking!’
    – Other people knew that God can work in surprising ways. They came to worship the newborn king.

Time for reflection

Today, there are still various reactions to Christmas.

- Some people love it, whereas others hate it.
- Some people look forward to it, but others worry about it.
- Some people have too much to do, whereas others sit at home alone.
- Some people celebrate Jesus’ birth; others do not.

One thing is for certain, though: the birth of Jesus changed the world forever!

Dear God,
Thank you for Christmas.
Thank you for all that we are looking forward to this year.
Help us to remember those who are not looking forward to Christmas.
Help us to be there for them.
May this Christmas be a time of peace in our homes and joy in our hearts.


Any suitable Christmas song.

Publication date: December 2019   (Vol.21 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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