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Doing small things . . .

To appreciate that small offers of help can make a BIG difference.

by The Revd Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Key Stage 1

Aims

To appreciate that small offers of help can make a BIG difference.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a copy of Elmer and the Butterfly by David McKee (Red Fox, 2003, ISBN: 978-0099439684).
  • A large cut-out paper elephant covered in squares of coloured paper to resemble Elmer. This should ideally be prepared by a class of children beforehand – each can add just one or two patches. A small cut-out butterfly might also be made.
  • For a class assembly, a group of children might prepare a re-telling or dramatized version of the story.
  • Prepare the words of Mother Teresa to display (see point 6.).

Assembly

  1. Begin by introducing the children to the character Elmer. Elmer is an elephant – a patchwork elephant. Display the cut-out and explain that you didn’t have time to make a representation of Elmer by yourself, but that with the help of others, here is one to enjoy. Explain how the model of Elmer has been made. Lots of school members each played a small part in a large project. Reflect that it was far easier to make a tiny model butterfly.
  2. Summarize or read the story Elmer and the Butterfly.

    Elmer is out walking when he hears a cry for help. A butterfly is trapped in a hole by a fallen branch, and Elmer easily helps her to escape. She promises to repay him if ever he needs her. Elmer cannot imagine how a tiny butterfly could possible help save a large elephant!

    However, soon afterwards he finds out, when a cliff path collapses and he is trapped in a cave. Butterfly comes to the rescue!
  3. Invite the children to consider what the story can tell us about helping one another. It is said that ‘one good turn deserves another’ but Elmer couldn’t think how a creature as small as a butterfly could ever help him! Can a butterfly save an elephant? Invite the children to consider how it was only Butterfly who was able to fetch help when Elmer was stuck halfway down a cliff! (How would they fetch help in a real emergency?)
  4. Reflect that there are times when we all need the help of others. And that small ways of helping can often be very important. Encourage the children to consider how this might be true in school. Reflect back to the creation of the Elmer cut-out. Small bits of ‘butterfly-sized’ help can make a huge ‘elephant-sized’ difference.
  5. (Optional) If older children are present it may be appropriate to refer to some Bible stories in which small offers of help made a big difference.

    Peter allowed Jesus to sit in his boat – so that a large crowd could see and hear all he taught.
    A boy who was willing to share his ‘picnic-lunch’ (five small loaves and two fish) helped Jesus to ensure that hundreds of hungry people were fed.
    Somebody allowed Jesus to borrow a donkey to show the world that he was the King of Peace.
    Jesus valued small offers of help from ordinary people.
  6. Display the words of Mother Teresa, who devoted her life to caring for some of the world’s poorest people. She encouraged others to remember the importance of helping others in simple ways.

    ‘It is never too small … There are many people who can do big things. But there are very few people who will do the small things.’

Time for reflection

Reflection

Voice 1: Can Jasmine help?

Voice 2: Do you need help?

Voice 3: Please will you help me…?

Voice 4: Am I able to help?

Voice 5: What about Karl?

Voice 6: We can all help and support one another…

Voice 7: …and to remember that small things…

All (loudly!): CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE!

 

Prayer

Voice 1: Can Jasmine help?

Voice 2: Do you need help?

Voice 3: Please will you help me…?

Voice 4: Am I able to help?

Voice 5: What about Karl?

Voice 6: Loving God, help us to see how we can all help and support one another…

Voice 7: …and to remember that small things…

All (loudly!): CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE!

Song/music

‘Give us hope, Lord’ (Come and Praise, 87)

Publication date: February 2008   (Vol.10 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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