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Little Bo-peep. What kind of shepherd?

To help children to think about Bo Peep and the kind of shepherd she was. To introduce the idea of Jesus as a shepherd who cares for his sheep.

by Jill Fuller

Suitable for Key Stage 1

Aims

To help children to think about Bo Peep and the kind of shepherd she was. To introduce the idea of Jesus as a shepherd who cares for his sheep.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need to be familiar with story of the shepherd and the lost sheep, as below. The story is based on Luke 15.4-7 and Matthew 18.10-14. The version in Matthew comes after a passage where Jesus is talking about the importance of children and how God cares for each one individually. It is the aspect of loving care that is emphasized in the following adaptation of the story, translated into a modern farming landscape.
  • The children will need to know the tune of Little Bo Peep. Have the words of the songs on an OHP or flip-chart, and perhaps a group of children prepared in advance to sing them if reading without practice is difficult.

Assembly

  1. Ask the children to sing Little Bo Peep:

    Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep
    and doesn't know where to find them.
    Leave them alone and they'll come home,
    wagging their tails behind them.

  2. Ask what the children think a shepherd does. Talk about how shepherds have to look after the sheep, make sure they have food and water and protect them from wandering into danger.

  3. Encourage the children to think of dangers sheep might face if they wander away from the flock (rest of the sheep), e.g. getting lost or injured, falling down holes or ditches, getting caught in wire fences.

  4. Ask them to sing Little Bo Peep again. Afterwards, ask if they think she is a good shepherd. Does she know where her sheep are? Does she go out to look for her lost sheep?

  5. Introduce the story below and ask the children to listen carefully and think whether the shepherd in this story cares for the sheep more than Bo Peep.

    The Story of the Shepherd and the Lost Lamb

    There was once a shepherd who had one hundred sheep. Every night he counted them carefully for he knew each one and wanted to be sure they were all safe. One evening he discovered that one lamb was missing. He counted again, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine … and again, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine … There was definitely one missing.

    So he left the other ninety-nine feeding in safe pastures and went searching. He searched across fields, under hedges and in ditches. He looked behind water troughs and walls and checked for any open gate through which the lamb might have strayed.

    After many hours he spotted the lamb - it had fallen and injured its foot. The shepherd was so glad. He ran across the field and examined the foot gently. Then he phoned on his mobile to his friends to tell them the good news that he had found his lost lamb. He lifted the lamb and carried it back to his Land Rover to take it to the vet for help.

  6. Discuss with the children how the shepherd in the story was different from Bo Peep. He kept on looking for the one lost sheep until he found it. He cared for all his sheep and seemed to know each one.

  7. Explain that in the Bible Jesus talks about himself as the 'good shepherd' who knows his sheep (John 10.14). Explain that Jesus told stories (parables) about shepherds to help people understand about the way God loves each and every one of us - just like a shepherd looking after the sheep.

  8. Talk about how we are sometimes like sheep, wandering away from God's love. Talk about how Jesus is like a kind shepherd who understands our mistakes and still loves us.

 

Time for reflection

Ask the children to reflect on the story of the lost lamb and remember the loving care of the shepherd.

Song/music

Sing to the tune of Bo Peep:

Jesus is shepherd of his sheep,
he knows each one by name.
Whatever we do, his love is true,
he'll find us again and again.

Publication date: November 2001   (Vol.3 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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