The Wonderful Sparrow
We are all important
by Janice Ross (revised, originally published in 2007)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider the idea that everyone is special and unique.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a pair of binoculars and a bird book.
- Have available an image of some sparrows and the means to display it during the assembly. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/sl5qb8r
- Have available the YouTube video ‘Sounds of House Sparrows Birds’ and the means to play it at the end of the assembly. It is 17.15 minutes long and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgoNOLBZ4Y8
- Start by looking through the binoculars as if bird-watching, with a bird book at hand.
Pretend to follow a bird’s flight path. Occasionally, say, ‘Wow, did you see that?’ Take out the bird book and pretend to search there for the listing for the bird.
- Notice the children and tell them that you are a keen birdwatcher and you have heard that there are some rare birds about. They have been blown off course in a recent storm. Suggest that the children help you. When you spot a bird, you will try to describe it to them. If they think that they have identified the bird, they may raise their hand.
- Say, ‘Here comes one now.’ Pretend to follow its path and say, ‘Now, this one is quite big. It’s all white and has big wings. I think it’s looking for fish.’
Take the first reasonable answer that you hear and thank the children.
- Now, say, ‘Here we go again. This one is making for the school bird table. It’s quite small, but I can see a bit of blue on it. Oh, it’s eating the nuts.’
Again, accept an answer from the children.
- Now, say, ‘I can just make out a small bird. It looks like it has a red tummy.’
Again, accept an answer from the children.
- Then, choose an unusual bird such as an osprey, a kingfisher or a bird from another continent if any class has been studying such a topic. Be very excited about this one and make lots of exclamations! ‘Imagine us seeing an osprey! Do you know how rare that is?’
At that moment, pretend that another bird has flown past quickly. Immediately, stop talking to the children so that you can follow its imaginary flight as before.
Say, ‘Now, what’s this one? Do you see it go? It’s small and brown. Oh, quick, it’s landed on that gate.’ Keep looking and then say, ‘I think it’s a . . . oh, it’s a sparrow!’ Put the binoculars down.
- Show the image of some sparrows.
Explain to the children that sparrows were once very ordinary in this country, one of the most common birds around, in fact. They’re not colourful and they don’t do anything spectacular, yet God speaks about them in the Bible. There’s no mention of a seagull or a blue tit in the Bible, nor even an osprey, but an ordinary little sparrow is mentioned!
In fact, it was Jesus who had something to say about sparrows. In Matthew 10.29, Jesus says that God knows when a sparrow anywhere falls to the ground. He cares about each common little sparrow. Christians believe that this means that God cares for everyone, not just the ‘special’ or unusual people.
Point out that recently, the number of sparrows in the UK has dropped off, so in some areas, they’re no longer very common at all – they’ve become special and unusual!
Time for reflection
Ask the children, ‘How many of us feel very ordinary, like the sparrows?’
Maybe we think that we are very ordinary to look at. Maybe the things that we can do seem very ordinary. Maybe we don’t think that we particularly shine at anything. However, just like the sparrow, the only bird that Jesus talked about, we are special. Each one of us is unique.
Ask if anyone knows what the word ‘unique’ means. Go on to explain that it means that we are the only one just like us. There is no one else exactly like us anywhere in the world. We are unique. Ask the children to say the word to themselves: unique.
Say these words as you look round at the children: ‘Unique: that’s you and there’s no one else just like you!’
Thank you that we are special to you.
Thank you that you see us, love us and want to care for us.
Thank you for ordinary little sparrows.
When we see them in the garden, please help us to remember that we are special.
‘Sounds of House Sparrows Birds’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgoNOLBZ4Y8 (17.15 minutes long)