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by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To show that if we have true determination it is possible to achieve our goals.

Preparation and materials

  • Find a transparent jug or container and fill half full with water.
  • You will need a small collection of fairly large stones.
  • An OHP will be needed for The Lord’s Prayer.
  • The assembly uses one child as a helper.


  1. There are times when things get difficult for us and it would seem much easier to give up. Sometimes children and adults alike can be heard to say, ‘I can't be bothered,’ or ‘It's too hard.’
  2. Life is not always easy, and we must learn to cope when things do not run smoothly. There are times when we need to make a special effort in order to achieve our goals.
  3. Great milestones in history have been achieved because the people involved have shown true determination. Great leaders determined to overcome the wrong they see, scientists who don’t give up looking for answers, artists who believe in their talent when no one else does, people who hold on to their faith through difficult times. (Further discussion could be developed here and linked to any current history projects.)

    Without these people we would not have things like penicillin (Alexander Fleming) and other antibiotic medicines. The development of X-rays (Marie Curie) and scanners has helped in the treatment of life-threatening diseases. The discovery of electricity (Michael Faraday) has made an enormous difference to the way in which we live. Transport over long distances has been made possible by the invention of trains, cars and aeroplanes. Communications have been vastly improved by the invention of telephones, televisions and computers. All these things and many more make life so much easier for us, and we take them for granted. But they have been brought about by the sheer hard work and determination of their inventors, who in spite of setbacks never gave up.

  4. Great sportsmen and women have to train every day to achieve the very best results and get to the top of their sport. We do not see the hours and hours of hard work that they put in to make such results possible. We only see the glamorous side of their lives and the media praise for their victories. It is important to realize that hard work is needed, both mental or physical, to reach their goal.

  5. In a famous story in the Bible, Jesus showed great strength and determination when he was tempted by the devil in the wilderness (Luke 4.1-13).

  6. Nothing is achieved without some sort of effort, as is shown in this story. The idea for it came from a story told by Aesop, a famous Greek storyteller:

    There had been very little rainfall in the land where Johnny Crow lived and he was desperately in need of a drink in order to survive. He flew around anxiously looking for water. At last he saw a large pitcher, which is a tall jug used for carrying water. Landing gently on its rim, he looked down into its narrow depth.

    He could see some water reflecting the sky. He could smell it halfway down but realized that he was unable to reach it. He tried to push the pitcher over to spill its contents but it was too heavy.

    Then he had an idea. (Choose a child to help.)

    He noticed some large stones nearby. Carefully choosing those that would pass through the neck of the jug he flew backwards and forwards dropping them into it. (Let the helper perform this, making sure the audience can see the water in the jug.)

    Gradually the level of the water began to rise higher and higher. Soon the water was at the top. Johnny Crow reached down and took a long, welcome drink. It tasted so good. Sheer determination had saved his life.

    Thank your helper and ask them to sit down.

  7. Suggest that this proves the saying: ‘Where there's a will, there's a way.’

    Johnny Crow could have given in but he knew that his life depended on getting at the water. So remember, when you’re trying to overcome your problems, if you can't find a simple way, step back and think about them until you come up with a fresh idea. There is usually a way of doing so.

    You might want to add that you don't recommend drinking water that's had stones or any other non-food item put into it.

Time for reflection

Think about the story of Johnny Crow.
What does it say to you?
What problems are you trying to deal with at the moment?

Dear God,
Give us the strength and determination to find a solution to our problems.
Make us strong like Jesus when he had to face great hardship.
Give us the determination to achieve our aims
and be with us always, today and for evermore.


Say together The Lord's Prayer: 'Our Father...'


‘Spirit of God’ (Come and Praise, 63)

Publication date: November 2004   (Vol.6 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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