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Rumours of Rudolf

by The Revd Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To reflect upon the meaning of Christmas goodwill.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a pair of party reindeer antlers.
  • Arrange a dialogue with colleagues (see 2. below).
  • A recording and the words of 'Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer'.
  • A play or dance could be written to illustrate the song. For this you will need more antlers, a child-sized Santa Claus outfit, and an improvised sleigh. A rear cycle light can be used with elastic to make a ‘red nose’ – or visit a party shop.
  • You can find more about using drama in assemblies in our Resources section.


  1. Put on the party antlers and tell the children that you’re really getting into the spirit of Christmas. Await their reaction.
  2. Engage in dialogue with other members of staff along the lines of:
    'We hope you’re not going to wear those in the staff room.'
    'Why not?'
    'They look silly.'
    'But I’m just having a bit of fun.'
    'If that’s how you behave I don’t think we shall want you at the Christmas dinner.'
    'I’m looking forward to the Christmas dinner.'
    'Well, we're not looking forward to having everyone look at us because of your silly antlers.'
    'I can't help it. I just enjoy being a bit different.'
    'Go and be different somewhere else then.'
    'But isn’t Christmas a time for joining in parties and having fun?'
    'Not with you, antler man/woman!'
  3. Assure the children that you're just having some fun, but invite them to think seriously about the role play. What attitudes concerned them? How does it feel to be 'picked on' and excluded from fun and friendships?
  4. Lighten the mood by introducing the song 'Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer'. Review the story together with the children (it could be translated into a fun play or dance – see above). Emphasize the point that the difference that made Rudolf the ‘odd one out’ was just what was needed to make Christmas complete!
  5. Sing the song together, introducing the actions. At the word 'Rudolf' or 'reindeer': hands either side of head, fingers outstretched as antlers. At the word 'nose' or 'nosed': trace circle with forefingers in front of nose.
  6. Reflect that Christmas can be great fun, but not for anyone who feels left out or alone. Invite the children to remember the first Christmas story. How did Mary and Joseph feel when they were turned away by innkeepers who said: 'Go away. We can see you’re having a baby but we’ve got no room.' Remind everyone that the shepherds who came to Bethlehem were some of the poorest people, whom others avoided.
  7. Conclude that, for Christians, an important word in the Christmas story is 'goodwill'. It's found in another song – that of the angels: 'Glory to god in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to all people.' Goodwill means that God wants no one to be unhappy and left out. At Christmas we can share fun and friendship and show the meaning of goodwill to others.

Time for reflection

Play part of the song again and ask everyone to think about the words in a new way. It’s not just a fun Christmas song but is about including everyone.

Lord God,
Help us to share peace and goodwill,
this Christmas,
and throughout the coming year.


'Christmastime is here' (Come and Praise, 127)

Publication date: December 2004   (Vol.6 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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