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Two Sides

Can we change our behaviour?

by Alexandra Palmer

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To consider that we can all behave in different ways and that change is possible.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available the YouTube video ‘God’s story: Jacob and Esau’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 4.18 minutes long and is available at:
  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Two Sides) and the means to display them.
  • You will need to be familiar with the Bible story of Jacob and Esau, which is found in Genesis 25.19-34.
  • Optional: you may wish to use the extension activity (Two Sides - Extension Activity) that accompanies this assembly.


  1. Show Slide 1.

    Ask the children, ‘How would you describe a coin?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

  2. Show Slide 2.

    Ask the children, ‘How would you describe a football match?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

  3. Show Slide 3.

    Ask the children, ‘How would you describe an argument?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

  4. Show Slide 4.

    Ask the children, ‘How are all three connected?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Explain that the answer is that there are two sides to each of them.

  5. Show Slide 5.

    Ask the children, ‘Are there two sides to our behaviour?’

    Ask the children to give a thumbs-up to answer yes and a thumbs-down to answer no.

    Point out that there are often two sides to our behaviour.

  6. Ask the children to think of times when people might show two sides to their behaviour.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  7. Show Slide 6.

    Tell the children that you are going to look at four aspects of behaviour: optimistic and pessimistic, and trusting and envious.

  8. Ask the children, ‘What do these words mean?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

  9. Show Slide 7.

    Explain the meaning of optimistic and pessimistic.

    - We are optimistic if we are hopeful that things will work out well.
    - We are pessimistic if we are always expecting the worst to happen.

  10. Show Slide 8.

    Explain the meaning of trusting and envious.

    - We are trusting if we believe people to be sincere and honest.
    - We are envious if we want what someone else has.

  11. Introduce the story of Jacob and Esau from the Old Testament. Explain that Jacob and Esau were twin brothers who did not get along. They represented two opposite sides.

    Show the YouTube video ‘God’s story: Jacob and Esau’ (4.18 minutes long).

  12. Ask the following questions about the video.

    - How are there two sides in the story of Jacob and Esau? (Answer: although they were twin brothers, Jacob and Esau looked and behaved differently. Esau was covered in red hair and he preferred to be outside, hunting. Jacob had smooth skin and he preferred to spend time indoors. Esau was his dad’s favourite and Jacob was his mum’s favourite.)

    - When Esau was younger, why did he give up his birthright? (Answer: Esau had been on a hunting trip and was hungry when he returned home. He saw the stew that Jacob had made and he wanted some of it.)

    - When Jacob persuaded Esau to give up his birthright for a bowl of stew, how would you describe Jacob’s behaviour? (Answer: manipulative and sneaky.)

    - Why do you think Jacob wanted Esau’s birthright? (Answer: so that he wouldn’t end up working for Esau; Jacob wanted to be in charge of the family and its land and money.)

    - Why did Jacob’s mum want Jacob to have the blessing and birthright before his dad died? (Answer: Jacob was her favourite son.)

    - What’s similar about Jacob and his mum’s behaviour? (Answer: they both behaved sneakily.)

    - Jacob’s dad, Isaac, was blind, so he relied on his other senses. How did Jacob and his mum convince Isaac that he was blessing Esau when it was really Jacob? (Answer: Jacob put sheepskin on his arms so that they felt hairy like Esau’s. He also wore Esau’s clothes so that he smelt like Esau.)

    - Why did Jacob have to run away? (Answer: Esau was furious when he discovered that Jacob had received the blessing that was meant for him, and he wanted to kill Jacob.)

Time for reflection

Ask the children to reflect on the four behaviour words that we considered earlier: optimistic and pessimistic, and trusting and envious. How do these behaviours feature in the story of Jacob and Esau?

Listen to a range of responses.

Explain that Esau and his dad seem to be trusting, whereas Jacob and his mum seem to be envious.

Ask the children, ‘How do we know that Jacob changed his behaviour?’

Explain that Jacob was sorry that he had made a mess of things. He asked for forgiveness and made things up with his brother. Esau forgave Jacob and they ended up becoming friends. God always wants to forgive us, and he wants us to forgive each other too.

Dear God,
Thank you that you love us and always want to forgive us when we get things wrong.
Please help us to show good behaviours.
Please help us to say sorry when we are wrong.
Please help us to forgive each other, as Esau forgave Jacob.
Thank you that change is always possible.

Extension activity

  1. Give each child a copy of the sheet that accompanies this assembly (Two Sides - Extension Activity). Ask them to create a word cloud that contains synonyms for optimistic or trusting.
Publication date: June 2023   (Vol.25 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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