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To encourage thinking about promises and how important it is to keep them

by Susan Smart

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To encourage children to think about the promises that they make and how important it is to keep them.

Preparation and materials

  • Read through the story in advance.
  • A flip-chart or OHP.


  1. Ask the children what a promise is. What promises do they make? Are some promises more important than others?

    Ask for a volunteer to give an example of a promise that they made recently. Did they keep this promise? Write this promise on the flip-chart or OHP. Ask the children for other examples of promises they have made and record these as well.

  2. Explain to the children that you are going to tell them a story of a time when God made a very important promise.

    A long, long time ago, God saw that the people on earth were behaving badly. They were not looking after his world properly, not doing what he had asked them to do and he was very sad. However, there was one good man called Noah. God told Noah that a big flood was coming to destroy the world, but if Noah followed God's instructions he and his family would be saved.

    He instructed Noah to build a big boat, called an ark. The ark should be big enough to take his family and two of all the different types of creatures in the world.

    Noah began to build the ark, as God had told him to. His three sons helped, but it took them a long time. When the ark was finished God sent two of every animal and bird, and as soon as everyone was safely on board the door was closed and the rain immediately started to fall.

    Soon the ark was floating on deep waters. The rain went on falling until even the highest mountains were covered. Eventually, several months later, the rain stopped. The water level slowly started to go down.

    The ark came to rest on a mountain called Ararat. Noah sent out a dove to see how much of the earth was still covered with water. When the dove returned with an olive leaf in its beak Noah knew that it was nearly time to leave the ark. How did he know this? Because the leaf meant that somewhere the water was low enough for trees to grow.

    After this, God promised that he would never send a flood again, even though he knew that his people would not always behave well, as they should. He told Noah and his family that if it ever rained for a long time again and they were worried that there would be another flood, they should look up to the sky. There they would see a rainbow. This would be a sign that God would keep his promise never to flood the world again.

  3. Discuss this story with the children. How do they think Noah would have felt, being asked and trusted to carry out God's wishes?

Time for reflection

Ask the children to close their eyes and think of a time when they have made a promise and broken it, or when someone has made a promise to them and broken it. How did they feel?

Dear God,
Help us to remember the promises we have made to people.
When we see a rainbow, help us to remember God's promise to Noah
that he would not destroy the earth again,
but would make sure that seeds would continue to grow,
that trees and plants would give their harvests each year
and the weather would change according to the seasons.


'All the animals' (Come and Praise, 80).

Publication date: September 2004   (Vol.6 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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