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Things don't seem fair

To think about fairness and sharing, and trying to be fair to others.

by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To think about fairness and sharing, and trying to be fair to others.

Preparation and materials

Very little preparation is needed but an OHP would be useful for the poem.


  1. Tell the children that when you are in the playground you often hear them saying things like ‘It’s not fair, it’s my turn!’ or ‘It’s not fair, I was here first!’ or ‘It’s not fair, they won’t let me play!’ or ‘It’s not fair, that’s my ball!’ and ‘I don’t want to be your friend any more!’ Sometimes it can seem that you hear nothing but moans and groans.
  2. Explain that this morning you are going to tell a story that Jesus told and then ask some questions about it.

    The Prodigal Son
    (Luke 15.11-32)

    There was once a man who had two sons. Both worked very hard on their father’s farm. The younger one wanted to leave home and go travelling so he asked his father if he could have his share of the property to enable him to do this. His father agreed. The young man sold his share and went off with the money.

    He went away to a far distant country, where he spent his money on having a good time. Soon he had spent all the money he had been given, so he had to find work. He eventually found a job working for a pig farmer. There was a terrible famine in that land and very little food to eat. The pigs he was tending had food, but no one gave him anything to eat. He was starving.

    At last he came to his senses. He realized that he had been better off at home. He knew that his father’s servants had more to eat than he was getting. He was very sorry for what he had done and decided to go back home and ask his father to forgive him.

    His father had always hoped that his son would come back and every day he watched the road wishing he would return. One day he saw someone in the distance. His son was coming home! He was overjoyed and ran to meet him.

    The young man fell at his father’s feet and begged for forgiveness: ‘I wasted all your money and I am no longer fit to be called your son,’ he sad. But instead of being angry, his father called the servants and told them to fetch clean clothes and prepare a great feast. ‘Let us celebrate my son’s return. For I thought he was dead but now he is alive; he was lost but now is found.’ So the feasting began.

    Meanwhile, the elder son had been working in the fields. He was on his way home, and could hear the music and celebrations, and wondered what on earth was going on. He called one of the servants and asked what was happening. The servant told him that it was all because his brother was back.

    The elder son was furious. He felt that it was so unfair. He had never been given any reward for all his hard work during the time his brother had been away, and yet his brother had left home, wasted all his money and returned penniless, and was being treated so generously. When he met his father he said, ‘It’s so unfair. I have always obeyed you, I have worked like a slave for you and yet you have never done anything like this for me.’

    ‘My son,’ said his father, ‘everything I have is yours. You are always here with me. But I thought your brother had gone for ever, and now he has come back. I have found him and I am so happy. Be happy with me.’
  3. Ask questions about the story such as: What do you think about the younger son’s behaviour? Do you think the elder son was treated fairly? Why was the father so happy to see his younger son again? How did the father explain his actions to his elder son?
  4. Explain that Christians believe that Jesus wanted to show that God is like the father in the story, forgiving us if we do something wrong.
  5. There are lots of things in life that may not seem fair. This poem lists a few of them. (You could prepare readers in advance to add variety.)

    Is it fair?
    By Jan Edmunds

    Split and divide, we learn how to share. Equal parts can make things fair.
    Everyone should have the same, so what is wrong and who’s to blame?
    Some have nothing, some have more, ending in conflict, grief and war.
    So many things are there to share, but pleasing all is very rare.
    Sharing the earth, the sky, the sea; some are trapped while some are free.
    We share our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams, our laughter, jokes and future schemes.
    There are highs and lows in daily life, joy and pain and trials and strife.
    It’s fair we share our home, our pay and love for others day by day.
    Sometimes we’re forced to share the pain of those we’ll never see again.
    And when at times life’s hard to bear, there’s a moment we can share a prayer.
    When you look at life, is it really fair?
    Look harder – what could you share?
  6. If time allows you might like to explore the poem further, thinking about how as individuals and as a school community we could make life fairer.

Time for reflection


Reread the poem as an act of reflection.


Let us thank God for all the beauty of nature that we can all share.

We pray for the people in countries where there is famine and war.

Let us hope that the world will be become a fairer place.

Help us to be thoughtful and caring towards others, this day and always.

Teach us to forgive. Teach us to be fair. Teach us to share.



‘I will bring to you the best gift I can offer’ (Come and Praise, 59)

Publication date: May 2006   (Vol.8 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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