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New beginnings - fresh starts

To understand that everyone can change certain aspects of themselves for the better and that by taking different opportunities, like at the beginning of a new year, term, or even a new week, people have the chance to make a fresh start.

by Jenny Tuxford

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To understand that everyone can change certain aspects of themselves for the better and that by taking different opportunities, like at the beginning of a new year, term, or even a new week, people have the chance to make a fresh start.

Preparation and materials

  • The poem is based on the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15.11–32).

  • Split up the poem, giving lines to different readers, or groups of children. You could arrange this so that the same reader reads for each of the characters.
  • You might like to prepare children to mime the actions of the second poem.


  1. The prodigal son

    Benny was a farmer.
    He had two sons – Jack and Jim –
    And all day long they worked hard,
    Busily helping him.

    Jack, who was the oldest,
    Seemed happy with his lot.
    But Jim, his younger brother,
    Was definitely not.

    He was tired of working,
    His chores were never done.
    True, his friends were busy too –
    They were busy having fun!

    Jim knew he always looked a mess,
    There was nothing he could do.
    Who’s at his best when herding goats?
    And smelling like them too?

    Now one day Jim had had enough
    Of sorting out the tractor.
    So off he went to tell his dad,
    ‘Your son has the X factor.

    ‘Dad, I want to live the dream,
    I’ll be the best, you’ll see.
    So put my money in my bank
    And I’ll make you proud of me.

    ‘I’ve worked beside you every day,
    But it’s time for us to part.
    I want what you can’t give me –
    I need a brand new start.’

    Jim packed up his belongings,
    Gave his mum and dad a kiss.
    ‘I’m off to see the world,’ he said.
    ‘There’s more to life than this.

    His father watched him pack his things,
    With a sad look on his face.
    ‘I beg you, son, be careful,
    The world’s a dangerous place.’

    Next, Jack said to his father,
    ‘There is so much work to do,
    Rely on me to stay around,
    My duty’s here with you.’

    But Jim headed to the city,
    Got some money from the wall.
    And it wasn’t very long before
    He found he’d spent it all!

    He had a hair cut and a shave,
    Bought some very pricey smellies,
    And suits and shirts and jumpers,
    Swapped some new shoes for his wellies.

    Next, he bought some luxuries –
    A house, a car, a yacht.
    Did he ask, could he afford it?
    Sadly he did not.

    He went to shows and discos,
    But he didn’t use his head.
    Didn’t seem to realize
    He was going in the red.

    Of course, it happened, one sad day,
    He found he couldn’t pay.
    So some very big and hairy men
    Took everything away.

    Jim was left with nothing.
    He felt very, very sad.
    He couldn’t even buy some food,
    He’d spent everything he had.

    He grew extremely hungry.
    What was he to do?
    He knew he’d have to find a job
    To earn a crust or two.

    He begged for food, but everywhere
    The people said, ‘Push off!’
    So he found work looking after pigs
    And ate food from their trough.

    At last he said, ‘I’ve had enough,
    I must admit defeat.
    Why, even my father’s servants
    Have tasty food to eat.

    ‘It’s time for me to go back home.
    I’m as sorry as can be.
    I’ll be a servant to my dad,
    If he’s forgiven me.’

    Jim’s father met him on the road
    And his heart was filled with joy.
    ‘I’m not fit to be your son,’ said Jim,
    ‘I’ve been a naughty boy.’

    Benny was so pleased to see him.
    He’d thought poor Jim was dead!
    He ordered food to be prepared.
    ‘Let’s celebrate,’ he said.

    Now Jack heard all the laughter
    And spotted brother Jim.
    ‘I stayed here, Dad,’ he shouted,
    ‘Yet you make a fuss of him.’

    ‘And so you did,’ his father said.
    ‘And I’m grateful to you, Jack.
    But don’t be sad because I’m glad
    My younger son’s come back.’

    Jim spoke, ‘My dearest family,
    After all my pain and strife,
    The only new start I ever want
    Is with you, for the rest of my life.’
  2. Spend a few minutes discussing the story with the children. What did Jim learn through this experience? What did Jack learn? How do you think Jim behaved for the rest of his life – or the next few months, at least?! Do you think he resolved to change the way he lived?

    What could you change in the way you live that would help you to improve your life, and get on better with others too?
  3. Resolutions

    I’ll get up in the mornings straight away.
    I’ll brush my teeth at least three times a day.
    I’ll eat my breakfast up without a fuss,
    And walk to school, not go by car or bus.
    I’ll wear a tie and keep my shirt tucked in,
    Remember pumps and shorts when we have gym.
    In class I’ll try not to be distracted,
    Not add my sums when they should be subtracted.
    My homework will be done before I play,
    And I’ll learn my spellings every single day.
    If anyone needs help I’ll be first in line,
    And if I keep my resolutions – and I will this time –
    Then, this year, everything should turn out fine.

Time for reflection


Dear Father,

Give me the strength of mind

and a caring heart,

and the willpower it takes

to make a brand new start.



‘One more step’ (Come and Praise, 47)

Publication date: January 2009   (Vol.11 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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