Ethos Education

Nativity! The First Nativity

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Assembly Objective: 

  • What makes the Christmas story so special? The Bible teaches that God loves us so much that he gave us the gift of his son Jesus to show us how to live a life of love.

Film:

  • Nativity! (E1 Entertainment, 2010) certificate U. Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible:

Supporting Values Education:

  • The value of Respect derives from an underlying belief that everyone is valuable. This assembly enables pupils to explore the concept of being special.

OPENING ACTIVITY

Create the Atmosphere (mood-setter)

As pupils enter the room, play Sparkle & Shine (available from the Nativity! soundtrack). Click here to buy the soundtrack online.

To Their Level (game)

  • This game is similar to Follow the Leader and illustrates what it’s like to become someone or something else. Choose four volunteers and tell them to come up to the front. Explain that after you say ‘Go’, they must do everything that you do until you say ‘Stop’. Say ‘Go’ and act out a series of animals or types of people one after the other (e.g. dog, bear, hamster and ant or baby, queen, old person and mother).  Take your time over each performance and don’t make any noises. Afterwards ask the rest of the group to guess which animals or people were acted out and to vote which follower was the best dog or the best baby, etc.

Who? What? Why? (game)

  • Beforehand prepare a list of names and find the meaning of each. If possible deliberately choose the names of some of the children in the group.
  • Explain that you have a list of names and that they all have to guess what the name means. Tell them that you’ll choose a volunteer to come to the front who will act out clues to help you guess the meaning of the name. Choose a pupil to come to the front (if your list fits the names of the children in the group then choose one whose name is on your list). Whisper the meaning of one of the names to the volunteer and then announce the name to the whole group.
  • Some good names for acting out are:
    • Luke: Light
    • Sarah: Princess
    • William: Protector
    • Jessica: Wealthy
    • Charlie: Farmer
    • Rachel: Innocent lamb
    • Bernard: Bold as a bear
    • Victoria: Winner
  • Finally ask for a few volunteers (people who haven’t acted so far) and ask the whole group if they know what the name Jesus means. If not, tell them that it means ‘God will help’. Ask the volunteers to have a go at acting out that name. You could tell the rest of the group to put up their hands if they have any ideas that could help them.

FILM CLIP

  • Nativity! (E1 Entertainment, 2010) certificate U.
  • Clip 1
    • Start time: 00:20:58 (chapter 3, a child begins singing ‘O Danny Boy’)
    • End time: 00:21:43 (Mr. Poppy says, ‘Hollywood, Bob, are gonna love it’)
    • Clip length: 1 minute and 45 seconds
  • Clip 2
    • Start time: 00:07:35 (chapter 2, the school bell rings for playtime)
    • End time: 00:08:10 (Mr. Maddens yells ‘Mr. Poppy’ twice but Mr. Poppy ignores him and begins playing leapfrog)
    • Clip length: 35 seconds
  • Clip 3
    • Start time: 00:51:22 (chapter 6, the song Sparkle and Shine begins)
    • End time: 00:52:22 (Mr. Maddens calls Mr. Poppy to come back after he runs out to join the children for playtime)
    • Clip length: 1 minute

TALK

Download the Nativity! PowerPoint for use with this talk.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Welcome to our assembly. Today we’re going to look at the very first nativity! The word nativity means birth. Whose birth do we celebrate at Christmas? [Take suggestions – Jesus’].
    • Hands up if you’ve been in a nativity play? Which part of the nativity story do you like best? [Take answers]. It can be really exciting being part of such a great story.
    • We’re going to watch a clip now from a film called Nativity! In it a teacher called Mr. Maddens has been put in charge of the school nativity play. He’s not going to do just any nativity play; it’s going to be a larger than life musical, the best play anyone has ever seen! But he’s having some problems. Look at the children he has to work with. . .
    • Play clip 1
      • Start time: 00:20:58 (chapter 3, a child begins singing ‘O Danny Boy’)
      • End time: 00:21:43 (Mr. Poppy says, ‘Hollywood, Bob, are gonna love it’)
      • Clip length: 1 minute and 45 seconds
    • Alternative description:
    • Primary school teacher Mr. Maddens (Martin Freeman) and his new classroom assistant Mr. Poppy (Marc Wootton) are holding auditions for the nativity play. The clip shows four children performing. One sings poorly, two dance manically and one holds his breath until he is very red. Mr. Poppy tells the last boy that he’s through to the next round. Mr. Maddens insists that there isn’t one, but Mr. Poppy tells the boy he’s through.
    • Did you hear any strong singing voices? I’m not sure they’d get very far in X-Factor. . . they might not even get into Britain’s Got Talent! I think Mr. Maddens is in trouble!
    • Luckily he has some help. The man with the spiky hair sitting next to Mr. Maddens is Mr. Poppy. Perhaps he’ll be able to turn the children into stars. Let’s see Mr. Poppy in action.
    • Play clip 2
      • Start time: 00:07:35 (chapter 2, the school bell rings for playtime)
      • End time: 00:08:10 (Mr. Maddens yells ‘Mr. Poppy’ twice but Mr. Poppy ignores him and begins playing leapfrog)
      • Clip length: 35 seconds
    • The bell goes for playtime and Mr. Maddens’ class race out into the playground. Mr. Poppy runs out too. He starts playing with them, but Mr. Maddens calls him back inside. At first Mr. Poppy reluctantly comes in, but as the children chant his name, Mr. Poppy escapes through another door and starts playing with them again. Mr. Maddens is left yelling, ‘Mr. Poppy!’ to no effect.
    • What did you think of Mr. Poppy? [Take answers]. Put your hands up if you think Mr. Poppy will help the children do well in the play. [Pick on a couple of pupils and ask them why they think he’ll be helpful]. Put your hands up if you think he won’t. [Pick on a couple of pupils and ask them why they think he won’t be helpful].
    • He’s like a child himself! So you might think that this would make him a terrible teacher. But actually it is because he’s a big kid that he is the perfect person to help Mr. Maddens’ class. Mr. Poppy comes down to the children’s level – he listens to what they say and he plays like they do. He becomes one of them so he can encourage them. When Mr. Poppy is finished with them even Mr. Maddens is excited about the nativity play!
    • Play clip 3
      • Start time: 00:51:22 (chapter 6, the song Sparkle and Shine begins)
      • End time: 00:52:22 (Mr. Maddens calls Mr. Poppy to come back after he runs out to join the children for playtime)
      • Clip length: 1 minute
    • Alternative description: This is a montage of the class’s rehearsals. It includes shots of Mr. Maddens and Mr. Poppy choreographing moves and the class practising led by a now very enthusiastic Mr. Maddens. The clip ends when the class and Mr. Poppy run outside for playtime.
    • I think their nativity play is going to be something special.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Now I need you to use your imagination for a moment. I’ve just found an ant in the room – don’t worry we haven’t got a nest, it’s only imaginary! [Bend down as if you are picking up an ant and when you stand up hold your hand out palm up as if it’s on your hand]. I wouldn’t usually interfere in the insect world but this poor little ant looks like he’s in trouble. He keeps scurrying around in circles. [Trace a circle on the palm of your hand]. How can I help him? How can I let him know that I care?
    • I know! I’ll whisper him a message. [Lean in to your hand and whisper the following loudly enough that the group can hear]. Hello Mr. Ant. I’m sorry you’re not doing so well. I hope things get better soon. [Stop whispering]. He doesn’t seem to be able to hear me. Maybe he doesn’t speak English. Maybe I was too quiet. Or maybe he’s deaf!
    • I know! I’ll give him a little shake, just so he knows that I’m here. [Cup your hands together and give them a small shake. Open your hands just enough to peek inside then close them again quickly]. He looks a bit scared now. He’s still moving in circles but now he’s scuttling really fast! I just want to help him, but now he thinks I want to hurt him. What else can I do?! [Pause and look thoughtful].
    • I’ve got it! I really have! If I become an ant then the ant will understand me and I’ll be able to actually help him. Do you think that’s a good idea?
    • One problem: I don’t think I can become an ant! [Look defeated]. I guess I’d better leave this poor creature alone. [Bend down again as if putting him back].
    • The Bible tells us that God is much, much more powerful than you and me. In fact he can do anything he wants! And just as I wanted to help that ant, God wants to help us.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3] 
    • So what did he do? He became one of us! That’s what happened at the first nativity and that’s what makes it so special. The Bible says that Jesus is God as a human. When people call Jesus ‘the Son of God’ that’s what they’re talking about – God coming as a person to rescue people.
  • Read John 3:16-17 (The Message) [PowerPoint slide 4-5]
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Like Mr. Poppy, Jesus didn’t look much like a hero. He didn’t make a spectacular entrance into the world. He came as a baby and his first bed on earth was an animal feeding trough! But because he was the Son of God he did amazing things. Christians believe he did all of this for us.
    • So the next time you play Mary or Joseph or a shepherd or a star, remember that at the first nativity baby Jesus wasn’t just a doll, he was God coming to help us.
  • Reflection [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • By using your imagination a bit you can follow Jesus’s example. Although you can’t become someone else, you can imagine what it’s like to be someone else.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • So when you’re thinking what to get Mummy for Christmas you could ask yourself, ‘if I were Mummy what would I like most?’ Or when you’re writing cards for your school friends, you could imagine what children who don’t get a card from you will feel like. Perhaps you’ll write some extra cards.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • Even today you could get down to someone else’s level by imagining how you can help them – perhaps it’ll be your brother or sister or perhaps someone in the playground who is hurt or lonely. All it takes is a little imagination!
    • Prayer
    • I’m going to say a prayer now. If you agree with what I say and you’d like to say it to God too, then you can say ‘Amen’ at the end.
    • God, it is amazing that you came down to earth to help us! Thank you for loving us that much! Please remind us why Christmas is so special. Amen.

Headings and Bullets

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Welcome.
      • Introduce the theme of the first nativity.
      • Who has been in a nativity play?
      • Which part of the nativity story do you like best?
    • Introduce Nativity! and clip 1
      • Mr. Maddens is in charge of the school nativity play.
      • He wants it to be the best play anyone has ever seen!
      • He’s having some problems with the children involved.
    • Play clip 1
      • Start time: 00:20:58 (chapter 3, a child begins singing ‘O Danny Boy’)
      • End time: 00:21:43 (Mr. Poppy says, ‘Hollywood, Bob, are gonna love it’)
      • Clip length: 1 minute and 45 seconds
    • Discuss clip 1
      • Did you hear any strong singing voices?
      • They aren’t exactly X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent material.
      • Mr. Maddens is in trouble!
      • Luckily he has some help – introduce Mr. Poppy.
    • Play clip 2 
      • Start time: 00:07:35 (chapter 2, the school bell rings for playtime)
      • End time: 00:08:10 (Mr. Maddens yells ‘Mr. Poppy’ twice but Mr. Poppy ignores him and begins playing leapfrog)
      • Clip length: 35 seconds
    • Discuss clip 2
      • What did you think of Mr. Poppy?
      • Do you think Mr. Poppy will help the children do well in the play?
      • Why or why not?
      • He’s like a child himself!
      • This makes him the perfect person to help Mr. Maddens’ class.
      • Mr. Poppy becomes one of them so he can encourage them.
    • Play clip 3
      • Start time: 00:51:22 (chapter 6, the song Sparkle and Shine begins)
      • End time: 00:52:22 (Mr. Maddens calls Mr. Poppy to come back after he runs out to join the children for playtime)
      • Clip length: 1 minute
  • Ant Story [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Use your imagination for a moment.
    • I’ve just found an ant in the room and he’s in trouble.
    • How can I help him? How can I let him know that I care?
    • Idea No. 1: I’ll whisper him a message.
    • Problem: He doesn’t seem to be able to hear me.
    • Idea No. 2: I’ll give him a little shake.
    • Problem: Now he’s scared.
    • Idea No. 3: I’ll become an ant then the ant will understand me and I’ll be able to actually help him.
    • Only problem: I don’t think I can become an ant!
    • Explanation of Ant Story:
      • God can do anything he wants!
      • Just as I wanted to help that ant, God wants to help us.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • So what did he do? He became one of us!
    • That’s what makes the first nativity so special.
    • Jesus is God as a human – God coming as a person to rescue people.
  • Read John 3:16-17 (The Message) [PowerPoint slide 4-5]
  • Discuss Bible passage [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Like Mr. Poppy, Jesus didn’t look much like a hero.
    • He came as a baby and his first bed on earth was an animal feeding trough!
    • But he was the Son of God.
    • Christians believe he did all of this for us.
    • So the next time you’re in a nativity play, remember that at the first nativity baby Jesus wasn’t just a doll, he was God coming to help us.
  • Reflection [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • By using your imagination a bit you can follow Jesus’s example.
    • Although you can’t become someone else you can imagine what it’s like to be someone else.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • Challenges for this Christmas.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • Even today you could get down to someone else’s level by imagining how you can help them.
    • All it takes is a little imagination!
    • Prayer.

RESPOND

Prayer

  • I’m going to say a prayer now. If you agree with what I say and you’d like to say it to God too, then you can say ‘Amen’ at the end.
  • God, it is amazing that you came down to earth to help us! Thank you for loving us that much! Please remind us why Christmas is so special. Amen.

Respond Later

Nativity Scene (game)

  • Sit the children in a circle. Give each of them the name of a nativity character (e.g. Jesus, Joseph, Mary, shepherd, king, Herod, angel, different animals, etc.). There must be two or more of each character. When you call out a character, the pupils who’ve been given that name must switch places with each other. When you call out ‘nativity’ everybody must switch places.

Life in Someone Else’s Skin (writing activity)

  • Ask the children to pick one of their favourite celebrities. Tell them to think about some of the challenges their celebrity faces. Then ask them to imagine that they are the celebrity and to write a diary entry about their struggles. Afterwards you could encourage the children to think this way about the people close to them, so that they know how to help them.

Musical Nativity (song writing activity)

  • Put the children in groups of four or five. Ask them to come up with the lyrics for a Christmas song all about the nativity story. You could make this into a competition, awarding the winning songwriters with a prize or a spot in the school Christmas play.

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. Nativity! (E1 Entertainment, 2010) certificate U. Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. Sparkle & Shine (from the Nativity! soundtrack).
  3. Nativity! PowerPoint.
  4. A list of names with their meanings for the Who? What? Why? game.
  5. Paper and pens for each of the pupils for the Life in Someone Else’s Skin writing activity and the same again for Musical Nativity song writing activity.

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