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A Holiday Hiccup!

Hiccups can happen at any time

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider that minor issues can occur in every family, even during happy school holidays.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need two people to act out the scenario in the ‘Assembly’, Step 5. These could be adults or children.
  • Have available the YouTube video ‘The boy Jesus in the temple’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 2.02 minutes long and is available at:


  1. Ask the children what a hiccup is.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  2. Read out a definition of the word ‘hiccup’: an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm and respiratory organs, with a sudden closure of the glottis and a characteristic gulping sound. 

    You may wish to explain parts of this definition, depending on the age of the children. However, with all ages, you can explain that even though this definition sounds complicated, we all still know when we have the hiccups.

  3. Ask the children whether any of them know any cures for hiccups.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Suggestions may include:

    - holding your breath and swallowing three times
    - drinking a glass of water quickly
    - making the person who has hiccups jump
    - putting something cold down the back of the person who has hiccups
    - drinking water from the opposite side of the glass
    - swallowing a teaspoonful of sugar (the dentist might have something to say about that one!)

    Ask the children whether they think that any of these cures really work.

  4. Explain that the word ‘hiccup’ can also mean something else.

    A hiccup can be a temporary or minor problem or setback. For example, a cafe might apologize for a small hiccup in its usual wonderful service.

    Ask the children whether they can think of any examples of this kind of hiccup.

  5. Explain that hiccups like this can happen at any time. Ask the children to listen to the following scenario.

    Narrator 1: You’ve just set off on holiday. Everyone is in the car. Everyone is excited. However, you’ve only gone a few miles down the road when Dad puts his hand to his head and groans.

    Narrator 2: Oh no, I think I left the oven on!

    Narrator 1: Then, your little sister starts to cry.

    Narrator 2: Oh no, I’ve left my blanket!

    Narrator 1: . . . or her teddy bear, or her Paw Patrol dogs! Next, your big brother starts patting his pockets in a panic before exclaiming.

    Narrator 2: Oh no, I’ve forgotten my mobile phone!

    Narrator 1: Not likely, I know, but just imagine! Then, Mum lets out a wail.

    Narrator 2: Oh no, we’ve left the dog behind!

    Narrator 1: Of course, there could be other kinds of hiccup on the journey.

    Narrator 2: Mum, I’m feeling ill. I think I’m going to be sick . . .

    Narrator 1: Oh no!

    Narrator 2: Or splutter, splutter, splutter, the car breaks down.

    Narrator 1: Let’s face it, we’ve probably all experienced at least one of these hiccups.

  6. Point out that some hiccups may only be very minor problems – but at the time, they feel huge! They cause lots of anxiety and stress, and it can feel like they spoil things.

  7. Explain to the children that they are now going to hear a story about a time when there was a bit of a hiccup in Jesus’ family.

    Show the YouTube video ‘The boy Jesus in the temple’ (2.02 minutes long).

  8. Point out that fortunately, there was a happy ending in this story. Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple.

Time for reflection

Jesus was surprised that his parents hadn’t worked out that he would be at the temple. For Jesus, it seemed obvious. Talking to the learned priests about his heavenly Father was what he loved to do. Jesus probably would have wanted to stay there longer, but he was a good son, so he went home obediently with Mary and Joseph.

While Jesus was growing up at home with all his family, there would probably have been lots of hiccups! Think for a few moments about some of the things that you learn at home with your family, even when there are hiccups.

Dear God,
Thank you that even Jesus’ family had hiccupy situations!
Thank you that Jesus never wanted to cause his parents stress or anxiety.
Thank you for his example of choosing to please and obey them, and showing us that this pleased you too.
Help us to be like him.

Publication date: July 2021   (Vol.23 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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