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Sports Day

An assembly in the ‘Hello, Scruff!’ series

by the Revd Sylvia Burgoyne

Suitable for Reception / Key Stage 1


To consider the importance of persevering through the ups and downs of life.

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.


  1. 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!

  2. ‘It’s not long until sports day, Scruff,’ announced Lucy Jane one morning. ‘This year, I think I’m going to try running the long race, four times round the school field. When I told Dad, he said I’d have to do lots of practising, so I’ll begin this afternoon when I get back from school. You can come and help me if you want, Scruff.’
    ‘Hee-haw, hee-haw!’ brayed Scruff.

  3. Pause to ask the children, ‘Which races do you like best on sports day?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

  4. Continue with the story.

    Sure enough, as soon as Lucy Jane had changed into her T-shirt, shorts and trainers after school, she and Scruff went into one of the fields on the farm.
    ‘Ready, steady, go!’ shouted Lucy Jane, and off she ran as fast as she could, leaving Scruff way behind. By the time he trotted to the other side of the field, he saw Lucy Jane bending over, gasping for breath.
    Farmer Brown had been watching from the gate. He waited while Lucy Jane and Scruff walked slowly back.
    ‘You set off much too quickly,’ Farmer Brown explained. ‘When you have a long way to run, you have to run at a steady pace so that you don’t run out of breath before the end of the race. It takes practice, Lucy Jane, but you’ll soon improve.’

    Every day after school, Lucy Jane did some running. Scruff certainly helped because he could only trot at a steady pace anyway, and she ran by his side. After a week, Lucy Jane could run twice around the field. Then, it was three times and finally, she was running the distance every day.
    ‘Well done!’ said Farmer Brown. ‘You’ve trained really hard. You deserve to do well on sports day. Your mum and I will be coming to cheer you on.’

    Sports day arrived, and the weather was perfect: a bright sky, but not too hot. Lucy Jane went off to school in the morning.
    ‘Wish me luck, Scruff!’ she shouted as she waved goodbye.
    ‘Hee-haw, hee-haw!’ Scruff brayed as loud as he could.

    A short while later, Scruff watched Mr and Mrs Brown drive out of the farmyard. He wished that he could go to sports day to cheer Lucy Jane on, but he’d have to wait until she came home.

    It seemed like ages before the Land Rover pulled up in the farmyard. Lucy Jane jumped out and ran across to the field, where Scruff was waiting at the gate. Scruff looked closely . . . What was Lucy Jane wearing?

  5. Pause to ask the children, ‘Can you guess what Lucy Jane was wearing?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

  6. Continue with the story.

    Lucy Jane had a medal on a ribbon round her neck!
    ‘Look, Scruff, I won the race!’ she announced excitedly. ‘I didn’t think I was going to because at the start, lots of my friends were running faster than me. One by one, though, they began to slow down, and I overtook them. Sam’s the best runner in our class and he was still ahead, so I thought I’d never catch him. But as I was on the third time around, I began to get nearer and nearer to him. He was puffing and panting and getting slower and slower. I could hear Dad cheering me on and I kept going at the steady pace that we practised together, Scruff, and I soon passed him. No one else could catch me after that! All I had to do was keep going to the finish line. I won the race, Scruff!’ Lucy Jane flung her arms around Scruff and gave him a big hug. Secretly, he had found all the running very tiring, but he was thrilled that it had all been worth it.
    ‘Hee-haw, hee-haw!’ he nodded contentedly.

    Take off Scruff.

  7. Ask the children about their experiences of winning or losing races. Ask if there has ever been a time when they felt like giving up, but they kept going.

Time for reflection

In the Bible, there is a story about a man called Paul who was in a real hurry. He needed to take a battalion of soldiers and race to Damascus as fast as he could so that he could get rid of some people there. They were spreading wild stories about a man called Jesus, who everybody knew had died on a cross. Now they were saying that some of his friends had seen him: he was alive! He really was God’s Son!

Paul set off to put a stop to such nonsense. However, on the way there, he ground to a halt because a blinding light filled the sky and he heard a voice. It was Jesus talking to him, telling him that he must take part in a new race. Instead of racing to get rid of people who followed Jesus, Paul should do exactly the opposite! Jesus told Paul to start travelling around the world, telling people that Jesus really was alive and that God’s love for everyone would never end.

Paul spent the rest of his life travelling many miles over land and sea. Sometimes, people listened to his message and they became followers of Jesus. However, there were also times when people didn’t want to listen to Paul. Some even threw stones at him and chased him out of their towns. Some called him a troublemaker, and had him arrested and thrown in prison. This happened many times, but Paul never gave up. He knew that God was still in the race with him, helping him to be strong and forgiving, and helping him to keep sharing the good news about Jesus.

Later on in Paul’s life, he wrote some words that are found in the Bible that say, ‘Let’s run the race we’ve been entered for. Let’s always think about Jesus, who coached us: he’s there at the finishing line, so keep on going.’

Ask the children to think about the following questions, pausing after each to allow time for thought.

- What happens on bad days?
- What makes us cross?
What makes us sad?
What makes us feel fed up?
What happens on good days?
What things do we enjoy doing?
Who makes us happy?

Dear God,
Thank you for each new day.
Thank you for sharing our bad days as well as our good days.


‘Jesus’ love is very wonderful’, available at: (2.07 minutes long)

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