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Hang on!

To think about how we need to hang on to the right things.

by Penny Hollander

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To think about how we need to hang on to the right things.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a length of rope, five smooth stones and a children’s sword and shield and some pretend armour, if available.
  • Bible reference: 1 Samuel 17.34–51.
  • NOTE: Only undertake the tug-of-war if you have someone qualified and experienced who can organize it safely, to avoid rope burn and children falling and hurting themselves.


  1. Ask the children if they have heard the phrase 'hanging on for dear life'. Ask them what they think it means. Relate this to the example of abseiling – has anyone done this? What do you have to do? If you let go of the rope and if you didn’t have safety equipment, you would fall and badly hurt yourself. So hanging on to that rope is very important for your safety!

    Another example of hanging on is in a tug-of-war. You could get some children to demonstrate this (see note above). In order for your team to win you have to hang on to that rope and pull as hard as you can! Generally both sides are evenly matched so the hanging on and pulling the other side towards you is very hard work!
  2. Imagine what it would be like if you had five Year 6 children holding one side of the rope (choose children to demonstrate this) and on the other side one small child, perhaps the youngest in the school (e.g. from the Early Years class). Would it be fair? Who do you think would win?
  3. In the Bible there is a story that tells of a situation like this – not a tug-of-war competition but a battle between two unevenly matched sides – the mighty Philistines against the puny Israelites!

    Divide the whole assembly into two groups to show this, with most children on one side – the Philistines – and many fewer on the other side – the Israelites. You can do this without everyone moving if you just ask a few children to huddle together at the front as the outnumbered Israelites.

    Who is going to win a battle like this – particularly as the Philistines have a secret weapon, a giant named Goliath who is 3 metres tall?!

    The Israelites were terrified, but then they found that they had their own secret weapon, although it didn’t seem like a very good one at first – a young shepherd boy called David. Choose a small child to represent David and a much larger one, or a teacher, to be Goliath. The following scene can then be mimed (with imaginary stones and sword!) with commentary on what happens.

    Give David some armour to put on if you have it. But David says he can’t wear the armour – it’s too heavy and he’s not used to it. So he takes it off.

    Next he goes down to a stream nearby, chooses five smooth stones and puts these in his shepherd's bag – were they the secret weapon?

    David then goes to meet Goliath who looks down at him and says, 'Come here. I’ll feed your body to the wild animals.'

    But David then produces his real secret weapon. He says: 'You are coming to fight against me with a sword, a spear and a javelin. But I am coming in the name of the Lord who rules over all. He’s the one you have dared fight against.'

    Goliath moves closer to David to attack him and David moves closer too. Quickly he reaches into his bag, takes out one small stone, puts it into his sling and hurls it at Goliath. Where does it land? Right between Goliath's eyes – and he's dead! Then David cuts off Goliath's head with his own sword!

    What do the Philistines do? They run away and the battle is over!
  4. In this story, Goliath was hanging on to his much greater size and physical strength, but David was hanging on to God and his promise to look after the Israelites. Finally, remind the children that it’s not physical strength that always matters but where you put your trust and energies.

Time for reflection


Sometimes we can think we are small and/or insignificant, but let’s think for a moment about what we can hold on to and win.

What are we good at?

Can we show friendship, kindness, understanding to others?

What can I do today to help someone else?

When we help others it brings us happiness and sense of achievement too.

Let’s hang on to all that is good.


Lord, thank you that we can always hang on to you.

You are always there when we need you.

Teach us how we can help others too and be a friend and helper to them.



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

Publication date: November 2006   (Vol.8 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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