Family Matters – Extended Family

Topic:

the extended family

Aim

  • To help pupils see that the Bible affirms the extended family.
  • To help pupils understand the importance of supporting each other.

Things you’ll need

If you use the Key Stage 1 option you will need a flip chart and pens.

Preparation

If possible, arrange for a class to practice the opening activity before the assembly.

Bible Base

Ruth 1-4

Content

1 Ask for twenty volunteers, ten boys and ten girls. Divide them into two groups – one group of girls, one group of boys. Ask each group to stand in a circle, all facing to the right. Then they must all sit down on the knees of the person behind them. When they are all sitting down, they must wave their arms in the air. (The reason for having separate boy and girl teams is to avoid their embarrassment at having to sit on each other!) As they are trying to do this, explain to everyone else just how difficult it is to do. Congratulate your volunteers on their efforts, however well they do.

2 Point out that in that exercise everyone needed to rely on everyone else for it to work. It wasn’t just the people nearest to you who needed you, but even the people on the other side of the circle. Often we are good at helping and caring for people near to us, but not for those we think of as further away. In the Bible it says that God wants people to look after the people who are close to us, like parents, brothers, sisters etc; but he also wants us to care for people further away from our immediate families, like uncles, aunts, cousins and so on.

3 Tell the pupils that in the Bible we read about Ruth and her family, who had some sad and difficult events in her life. Tell Ruth’s story:

Ruth lived with her husband and his mother who was called Naomi. Then there was a famine and Ruth’s husband died of hunger. Ruth looked after Naomi, her mother-in-law, someone who as very close to her. Even when Naomi, told her she could go, Ruth stayed with Naomi to care for her.

Ruth and Naomi travelled to the country where Naomi was born. There, Ruth worked in the field collecting corn for food. She went along after the farmers and collected the scraps they missed for her and Naomi to eat. Ruth worked in the field of someone called Boaz. When Naomi found out, she was pleased, because Boaz was a distant relative, someone who might help them. One day Ruth told Boaz that he was a distant relative of hers, and how poor she and Naomi were. Boaz knew that he had to look after them properly, so he married Ruth and looked after her and Naomi.

Application

A Christian viewpoint

Ruth knew that she had to look after Naomi. Boaz knew he had to look after both Naomi and Ruth. The Bible says that we should care for people near to us, and those not so near. Just like the sitting game, we all need to support each other, even if the people are not close relatives.

For everyone

We all have families, whether they are big or small. We can learn to be people who care about those close to us, and also those not so near. We can write or phone or help with shopping or cleaning, or just sit and chat. By giving our time we can show we really care.

Response

Pray, thanking God for our families. Mention some of the people listed if you do the Key Stage 1 option. Ask God to help us to become people who care for those close to us, and those not so near.

Key Stage 1 option

1 Instead of the sitting game, ask the pupils how many people live in their house. Write up their answers on a flipchart so that everyone can see. Ask the pupils which relations live in their house (eg Mum, Dad, Grandma and so on). Then ask which relatives live in different houses, and which ones live overseas. Write up all the answers. You could find out who has the most people living at home, or the most relatives in more than one country.

2 Talk about all the different relatives and how some are very close to us, like our mums; others are not so close to us, like our aunts. They might live near, or even with us. In the Bible, we read that God thinks all our families are important, however big or small, and that each person in the family is important. Go on to tell the story of Ruth.

 

Families are important

Topic:

the importance of family

Aim

To help children think about why families are important and about being members of God’s family.

Things you’ll need

  • List of questions about animals and their young (see below)
  • Pictures of animals, if possible with their young.

Bible Base

  • Proverbs 31:27
  • Ephesians 6:1,4
  • Ephesians 2:19

Content

1 Ask for eight volunteers to come to the front. Divide them into two teams. Explain that you are going to have a quiz where the object is to give the special name of the young of various animals (eg a young cat is a kitten). In turn, ask the teams questions of increasing difficulty. You could use animals from the list provided (see box), or see if you can find more obscure ones. Add in some which you answer yourself with incorrect answers (eg duckbill platypus/duckbill platykitten) just for fun! Show some of the pictures of animals and their young that you have brought at appropriate moments, as the quiz goes along. Congratulate the winning team and ask all your volunteers to sit down.

2 Ask the children if they have seen birds, like ducks or swans, swimming on a lake or river with their young. Talk about birds and how they care for their young: they provide food for them; teach them to find food for themselves; teach them how to preen themselves, using oil from the gland at the base of their tail feathers to coat their feathers so that they don’t sink etc. Ducklings or cygnets snuggle up to the mother bird under her wings for warmth and security. If the parent birds think there is any danger to their young they will flap their wings and make a noise to deter people or dogs from coming too close.

3 Talk with the children about ways in which these families are similar to our own (being sensitive to the variety of family units that are likely to be represented). We all need to know that we are cared about and that we belong.

Application

A Christian viewpoint

Christians believe that families are part of God’s plan. Families provide the security, care and support we need. In our families we can learn how to get on with other people (Ephesians 6:1,4). Jesus taught his followers to call God ‘Father’ and Christians think of each other as brothers and sisters in a huge family that spreads all over the world (Ephesians 2:19).

For everyone

Whatever we believe about God, families are very important. We all need the safety and love of our families to grow up in. Sadly, family relationships sometimes break down and then we might need other people to help us. Sometimes people talk about ‘the family of man’ which includes all human beings.

Response

Ask the children to think about their own family– focusing on good things. They may like to think about God as a Father who knows and loves and cares for them. They may like to think about their school as a family where people care for and support one another.

If appropriate, you could finish the assembly with this prayer:

Lord God, we thank you for our families and for all the people who care for us. Please help us to care for others too. Amen.

 

Animals and their young

Cat (kitten)

Dog (puppy)

Duck (duckling)

Sheep (lamb)

Lion (cub)

Horse (foal)

Cow (calf)

Deer (fawn)

Eagle (eaglet)

Swan (cygnet)

Goose (gosling)

Kangaroo (joey)

Hare (leveret)

 

Family Breakdown

Topic

Family breakdown

Aim

  • To help children consider that some things that go wrong can’t be put right.
  • To help them understand the importance of knowing someone is with you when things are hard.

Bible base

Psalm 23

Content

1 Ask the children to imagine they are on a car journey.

You have a breakdown. What do you do? Can you see what’s wrong? Can you fix it yourself? If you can’t, what will you do next? (Answer: phone for help on an emergency phone or your mobile.) Point out that you need to tell someone about the problem.

The AA (or equivalent) come. What will the AA mechanic do? (Answer: he’ll try to fix the problem.) If the problem is simple, the AA person can fix it and you can continue your journey. If it’s a big problem, so that the breakdown mechanic can’t do anything, what then? Either you can have your car towed to a garage to be mended, or you might choose to have it towed back home.

The car owner needs to think and make a decision. Do you want it fixed? Is it worth it?

The passengers have to be thought about too. The breakdown and the breakdown services affect them too. Perhaps the driver will try to blame them (‘I told you to put some water in…’), even though the car and driving it is the driver’s responsibility. How might the passengers be feeling? This could depend on the relationships. For example, are the passengers family members? Or friends being given a lift to the airport? Can the passengers do anything about the problem? (Answer: ‘No’.)

2 Now make the comparison with family breakdown.

Sometimes things go wrong in families and there are arguments (eg adult/adult; adult/child; child/child). Sometimes there’s a ‘breakdown’. Sometimes we can fix things easily by saying sorry, talking about the problem and trying to put things right. Sometimes we can’t. It’s a big problem. Then we need help (refer back to the emergency phone call). We need to talk to someone about our problem who knows how to help us get it fixed.

The people involved in the breakdown have to make a decision. Do I want to get this fixed? Sometimes the answer is ‘No’ and that will mean that things are going to change.

Like the passengers in the car, everyone in the family will be affected. Like the driver, adults sometimes try to blame the children. Make the point that it is not the children’s fault It is the grown-ups’ responsibility.

Point out that, no matter what your faith, sometimes things go wrong for you and your family.

Application

For everyone

  1. Read Psalm 23. Then talk about the role of the shepherd. Explain that to keep his sheep from straying, the shepherd would sometimes even break a sheep’s leg. It was the shepherd’s role to protect his sheep. But there is no promise in the psalm that a sheep will never get lost. This psalm is for everyone. It promises that God will be with you in the bad times.
  2. Sometimes a friend can give you the support you need to go through a difficult time. It may be that you will be able to see God’s love through your friend.
  3. Often when there’s a big breakdown, we can’t know how things will turn out. We just have to be patient and wait.

Response

  1. Ask the children to sit quietly for a few moments. Ask them to think about people they know (it might be them) who are going through difficult times in their families. Perhaps some people will be going home after school to difficult situations which make them unhappy or afraid.
  2. Ask the children to think about people who have got difficult family situations and are being helped at the moment (eg by social workers, counsellors, friends).
  3. If you feel it is appropriate, you could end the assembly with this prayer:

Dear God, please help… (ask the children to choose someone they know) who is going through a very difficult time in their family. Please help them to be ready to accept help and to know that you are with them and want to take care of them. Amen.

NB Be very sensitive to the difficult family situations children in the assembly may be in. Remember that this assembly may raise issues that the children will want to talk about. If appropriate, you could talk with the head teacher about how to provide opportunities for children to do this.