Every Life Is Precious
An assembly in the ‘Hello, Scruff!’ series
by the Revd Sylvia Burgoyne
Suitable for Reception / Key Stage 1
To consider that all living things need someone to care for them.
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.
- If possible, have available a picture of some reeds by a riverbank and the means to display it. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/i0jpwuqv
- 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!
- It was a busy time on the farm. Farmer Brown had brought the sheep into the warmth and shelter of the big barn, where their lambs could be born safely. Lucy Jane loved to wander around the pens, counting the lambs day by day. Then, she would run to tell Scruff the latest number.
‘So far, there are ten lambs!’
‘Now, there are more than 20, and Dad says there will be more tomorrow!’
‘There are at least 40 now, Scruff, and they’re all so cute and lovable!’
- Pause, and then ask the following questions.
- Can you count up to ten?
- Can you count up to 20?
- Can you count up to 40?
Encourage the children to count backwards and forwards.
- Continue with the story.
One afternoon, Lucy Jane came into the stable to share some surprising news.
‘Guess what, Scruff? I’m going to be a mum! One of the lambs is very weak, and Dad thinks she won’t live unless she is given extra care. He’s put her in a box next to the kitchen stove to keep her warm, and he wants me to feed her milk from a bottle! Mum is going to look after her during the day, while I’m at school, but every evening, I have to play at being Mummy Sheep and feed her!’
Lucy started to giggle, and then asked Scruff, ‘Do you think I look like a sheep?’
‘Hee-haw, hee-haw!’ nodded Scruff.
As the little lamb grew stronger, she would sometimes follow Lucy Jane across the farmyard into the stable when she gave Scruff his food.
‘She really thinks I’m her mum, Scruff,’ Lucy Jane said one day. ‘But soon, she’ll be able to go out into the field to play with the other lambs. Mum and Dad told me I’ve done a really good job of looking after her.’
‘Hee-haw, hee-haw!’ agreed Scruff enthusiastically.
Take off Scruff.
- Explain to the children that you’re going to tell them a story from the Bible now. Many years before the story begins, Joseph had become an important and powerful man in Egypt, second only to the pharaoh himself. He had brought his dad, his brothers and their families to live near him because there was a famine in their own land. (A famine is when there is not enough food for everybody.) As time had passed, their families had grown bigger and bigger, and the new pharaoh decided that there were far too many Hebrews in his country. He didn’t want them to become too powerful, so he gave orders for the baby boys to be killed.
One of the Hebrew mothers, who was called Jochebed, carefully hid her baby boy for three months. However, it became more and more difficult to keep him quiet when the soldiers came to search their house.
What could she do to save her baby? She knew that she couldn’t keep him safe for much longer. She would have to give him away. But who to? Jochebed thought of a daring plan. She got a basket made out of reeds and plastered it with tar to make it watertight. Then, she put her baby in the basket and placed it in the reeds by the river.
Optional: show the image of some reeds by a riverbank, if available.
Why there? Because she knew that Pharaoh’s daughter came there every day to bathe. The baby’s big sister, Miriam, stayed hidden in the tall reeds to watch what happened.
Sure enough, a little later, Pharaoh’s daughter arrived with her maids. She heard a baby crying, saw the basket in the reeds and asked her maid to bring it quickly. When she looked inside, she saw a lovely baby boy. She knew at once that this was a Hebrew child and said, ‘I will call him Moses, which means “drawn out of the water”.’
Just then, Miriam ran up to her. ‘Shall I get you a nurse to look after the baby for you?’ Miriam asked.
Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, so Miriam ran to tell her mother the good news. ‘Pharaoh’s daughter is going to adopt our baby, but you will be able to look after him while he is small. Then, he will live in the palace as her son!’
Jochebed’s clever plan had worked. She had saved the life of her son, and she was still going to be able to look after him for a while.
- Moses grew up to become a great leader who eventually led the Israelites out of Egypt.
Time for reflection
Ask the following questions, pausing to allow time for thought and listening to a range of responses after each one.
- Do you have a pet?
- How do you care for it? (Answers could include taking a dog for a walk, cleaning out a rabbit hutch, feeding a kitten and so on.)
- Have you ever looked after an injured wild animal or bird? (Examples could include a rabbit, a baby bird, a hedgehog and so on.)
- In what ways are you looked after? (Answers could include having your food cooked, your clothes bought, your home looked after, being given big hugs and cuddles, being made to feel special and so on.)
Encourage the children to think about the people who care for them. Encourage them to be grateful and to say thank you.
Point out that each of us has people around us whom we can care for.
Encourage the children to look out for opportunities today to show someone that we care.
Thank you for every living creature in the world.
Please help us to take our responsibility to care for them seriously.
Thank you for the people who care for us.
Please help us to look for ways to show others that we care about them.
‘From the tiny ant’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sUPK7LqAj8 (2.41 minutes long)
‘Spring chicken’ (Songs for Every Easter by Mark and Helen Johnson, Out of the Ark Music). It is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BJLRCGNNWQ (0.52 minutes long)