The Best Gift
An assembly in the ‘Hello, Scruff!’ series
by the Revd Sylvia Burgoyne
Suitable for Reception / Key Stage 1
To encourage us to show love by giving.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a glove puppet or sock puppet of a donkey, called Scruff.
- As the assembly begins, ensure that you already have Scruff the puppet on your hand.
- You may wish to have available some lavender, or something lavender-scented.
- You may also wish to have available a scented candle for the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly.
- Scruff waves to the children. Encourage them to say, ‘Hello, Scruff!’
If this is the first time the children have met Scruff, you will need to use the following introduction.
Scruff lives on a farm with Lucy Jane, her mum, Mrs B, her dad, Farmer Brown, and her baby brother, Tom. Lucy Jane loves Scruff. She looks after him. She plays with him and she talks to him – when she’s happy and when she’s sad. Scruff is her best friend!
- Lucy Jane came into the stable to say good night to Scruff. She brushed him gently, covered him with his warm blanket and then sat down on a bale of hay next to him. ‘Grandma is moving away, Scruff. Mum says that now she’s very old, Auntie Sue has invited her to come and stay with her. But Auntie Sue lives miles away. I won’t be able to see Grandma for ages!’
Scruff noticed a tear trickling down Lucy Jane’s cheek, and he gently nuzzled her.
‘Hee haw, hee haw!’ he brayed gently.
When Lucy came running in the next morning, she had a big smile on her face. ‘Mum says Grandma loves the smell of lavender, so I’m going to make her a lavender bag for Mum to take with her. Mum’s going to help me, so I’m going to be busy this morning, Scruff. I’ll see you later,’ and off she ran.
Ask the children whether they can think of the names of any other flowers that have a lovely smell.
Mum and Lucy Jane sat around the kitchen table. Mum had brought in some sprigs of lavender that had been hanging in the barn to dry, and Lucy Jane started plucking the lavender heads from the stalks. Farmer Brown came in for his morning coffee.
‘What’s that smell? It’s filled the whole kitchen,’ he asked.
‘It’s lavender, Dad. I’m making a lavender bag for Grandma.’
‘What a lovely idea,’ he said, smiling.
Mum cut out some pretty floral material. Then, Lucy Jane carefully sewed the two pieces together on three sides, leaving one side open. Next, she spooned the lavender into the bag before sewing up the fourth side.
At last, it was finished and Lucy Jane was very pleased.
‘It looks and smells lovely. I must show Scruff!’ she said eagerly, jumping up and running outside.
Scruff wasn’t quite ready to have a bag of lavender wafted so close to his nose. It made him sneeze.
‘Hee . . . HAW! Hee . . . HAW!’
‘Oh, you are funny, Scruff,’ Lucy Jane laughed.
Ask the children whether they can think of a smell that makes them sneeze.
That afternoon, Lucy Jane went with her mum and dad to say goodbye to Grandma.
‘Look, Grandma. I’ve made this for you,’ Lucy Jane whispered.
Grandma held the lavender bag to her nose, and took a deep breath in.
‘I love the smell of lavender,’ she said. ‘It’s a beautiful gift to take with me. Whenever I smell it, I’ll think about you, even though I’m a long way away.’
She gave Lucy Jane a kiss and a big hug.
Take off Scruff.
- Explain that now, we are going to think about a story in the Bible. Ask the children to listen and see whether they can spot any similarities with the ‘Hello, Scruff’ story that they just heard.
- Mary was excited because Jesus was coming for dinner. However, she was also sad because Jesus kept telling them that he would be going away soon. She didn’t understand it, especially when he said that he would be arrested and killed. How could anyone want to hurt her friend? He was so good and kind. What could she do to show him how much she loved him? When everyone was around the table, Mary brought in a jar of very expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet, and then wiped his feet with her hair. The room was filled with a beautiful fragrance that everyone could enjoy. Everyone, that is, except one of Jesus’ followers, who was called Judas.
‘What a waste!’ Judas complained. ‘That perfume could have been sold, and the money given to the poor.’
But Jesus stuck up for Mary.
‘Leave her alone,’ Jesus said. ‘There will always be poor people whom you can help, but you will not always have me with you. Mary has done a beautiful thing. She has given me the most precious thing that she has to show her love for me.’
Time for reflection
If possible, light a candle (use a scented one, if available).
Ask the children to look at the candle, or smell the lavender, and think about how they could show kindness and love to someone today.
Please help me to be loving and kind towards other people.
Please help me to think of ways in which I can show that I care for others.
‘Magic penny’ by Malvina Reynolds, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IclFQj4l3F0 (1.24 minutes long)