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I have made a mistake

To explore the concept of forgiveness

by Penny Hollander

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To explore the concept of forgiveness.

Preparation and materials

You will need:

  • You will need a board to write on and an eraser.
  • Any map or road atlas (optional).
  • This assembly will also require some rehearsal time to prepare four children to take part in the play. The characters are: Younger son, Father, Narrator 1, Narrator 2.


  1. Ask the children (and adults) for a show of hands for who has never made a mistake! Explain that we all make mistakes, it’s quite normal.

  2. Talk about the kinds of mistakes we make. This can be anecdotal, from our own experience. Ask the children for examples – from their experiences both in and out of school. Cues can be given relating to work, forgetting things, hurting someone’s feelings, not following directions properly, etc. Write these up on the board, or ask individual children to do this.

  3. Why do we make mistakes? Again, ask for suggestions but also provide cues if necessary: we want our own way, we think we know best, we are in too much of a hurry, or in a bad mood, we don’t understand.

  4. How do we feel when we make a mistake? We may say or think, for example, it’s not my fault, I didn’t mean it, I feel terrible.

    And what do we do when we make a mistake? Go away and hide? Say sorry? Try to blame someone else?

  5. Some mistakes are big and some are small. If we make a mistake in our work, we can just rub it out or cross it out. Rub out what has already been written on the board, then try again:

    If we hurt someone by being cross or bad-tempered or wanting our own way, we can say sorry and start again.

    If we make a mistake in following directions (show the map), we can turn round or try another route.

  6. The Bible is full of stories where people made big mistakes. Today we’re going to think about the story of the man with two sons. The younger son made a very serious mistake. Introduce the play based on Luke 15.11–32.

    Younger son:  Father, give me my share of the family property. I want to spend it now!

    Father:  That’s not what I really wanted to do, son, I wanted you to have it later on, when I have died, so that you can use it to build up your own business.

    Younger son:  I don’t care about the future, I want it now!

    Father:  Very well, but be careful with it – you won’t be able to have the money again later.

    Younger son:  Oh, thanks, Dad. Great! Now I’ll be able to go and really enjoy myself. I shall leave home right away and go and seek the bright lights, buy new clothes, get a fast car, go to clubs and just spend the money in all the ways I want.

    Narrator 1:  So that’s exactly what the younger son did. For a while he enjoyed doing all the things he’d always wanted to do. He did no work – just went on spending, spending, spending…Until one day, guess what? The money ran out. He was in a terrible state. What was he going to do now?

    Narrator 2:  All his new-found friends ignored him now that he had no money to entertain them. He was left to desperately seek work so that he could at least have money for food. However, the only work that he could find was looking after someone else’s pigs. He even considered eating the food given to the pigs. No one gave him anything.

    Narrator 1:  At last he came to his senses!

    Younger son:  I am being so stupid! Even the people who work for my father have lots of food. I need to go back to my father and ask him to forgive me for being so stupid. I’ll tell him that I realize that I’m no longer fit to be called his son. I’ll ask him if instead he’ll employ me as one of his workers.

    Narrator 2:  So, having made up his mind, he set out for home. But he was in for a big surprise. His father saw him returning when he was still a long way from home.

    Father:  I can’t believe it – my son is returning home at last. I’m going to run and meet him straight away.

    Narrator 1:  So off he ran, full of love for his younger son. When he reached him he flung his arms around him. (To avoid embarrassment and maybe raise a laugh you could match the words with a stiff and formal handshake.)

    Father:  I am so pleased to see you coming back to the family home! Welcome, welcome!

    Younger son:  Father, I’m so sorry for what I’ve done. I know I can’t change what’s happened, but please would you consider taking me back, not as your son, but as a worker?

    Father:  Nonsense! Quick, bring him some brand-new clothes! And put this ring on his finger as a sign that my son was once lost to me but now I’ve found him again. We’re going to have a great party to celebrate!

  7. The Bible teaches us that it’s not the mistakes that matter so much as what we do about them. Christians believe that God will always forgive us when we say we’re sorry but in return he expects us to forgive other people’s mistakes as well! None of us are perfect.

Time for reflection


We are going to think for a few moments about any mistakes we have made.
What have you done that you wish you hadn’t done?
Now think about people who have hurt you –
can you forgive them and be friends again?


God has promised that he will always listen to us
because he loves us and wants the best for us.
We are quite safe with him, and when we say sorry,
which often takes courage,
he will always forgive us,
just like the father in the story forgave his son
for all the mistakes he made.
Let’s say the Lord’s Prayer together.


‘O Lord, all the world belongs to you’ (Come and Praise, 39)

Publication date: September 2005   (Vol.7 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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