Key Stage 2, Lesson 1 Literacy

What Happened in the Original Nativity Story? Literacy aim What are the key ideas developed in this particular narrative? Objectives Each pupil will have the opportunity to evaluate the original Nativity narratives to compare the original story with traditional (later) versions, and then evaluate the underlying meaning of the original. This lesson is a deliberate attempt to challenge a fairy-tale understanding of the story in the minds of the pupils. The Key Stage 2 RE lesson will focus on its deeper meaning. The pupils will need to have seen the whole version of ‘It’s a Boy!’ on DVD. Introduction Establish which pupils took part in a Nativity play when they were smaller. Get them to stand up if they were ever . . . a shepherd . . . a King . . . a Wise Man . . . a sheep . . . an angel . . . an innkeeper . . . a donkey . . . a wandering star . . . anything else we’ve left out? (Mary and Joseph . . . and baby Jesus?) Ask them to remember what happens in the Nativity story. (Use pupil discussion to draw up a class collective ‘memory’ of the story on the board, listing all the traditional elements, including a stable.) Core Material Pupils should discuss with a partner – which of these listed story elements were in the original Bible story? Also discuss which bits of the story they think are ‘true’ . . . and why? Explain that the class is now going to stage an investigation. They are going to find out what the original story actually says about the birth of Jesus. The Bible story is the one that all the Nativity plays and Christmas cards are based on, and it’s about 2000 years old. There are two accounts of the birth of Jesus, written by his friends Matthew and Luke. Just like a real detective or archaeologist on Time Team, the pupils are going to examine the original evidence and then give their opinions about the real Christmas story! Distribute copies of Worksheet 1. From the list of story elements on display, which of these do your pupils think are the key elements of the story (most important bits)? Together create a class list of agreed key elements, with each pupil then noting them T in the first column on their worksheet. (Also do this on a display board to show how it works.) Then discuss whether each element was in the story as portrayed in ‘It’s a Boy!’, and tick of off the elements if the pupils agree.

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Key Stage 2, Lesson 1 Literacy

The class will now need modern-day translations of the original birth narratives found in the New Testament of the Christian Bible at: Matthew Chapters 1.18-25, and 2. 1-18 Luke Chapters 1.26-38 and 2.1-20. Pupil-friendly versions of the text can be found in the Good News Bible, or the Contemporary English Version. If you are using a set of Bibles, then you may need to explain how the chapter-and-verse system works: it can be easier to print out and photocopy the relevant sections. Alternatively, they may be downloaded from the following weblinks: HYPERLINK "" HYPERLINK "" Read through the whole of the Matthew narrative aloud, with the class following on their own copies. (Expect giggles at the mention of the word ‘virgin’, and some shock at the account of the massacre of the children.) Discuss which of the supposed elements happened in this version. Were there any they didn’t expect? Pupils can record this on Worksheet 1. Activities The pupils should then complete the same exercise using Luke’s narrative, working either independently or in pairs. Then pupils can move on to the Dif Differentiated or Extension activities. Afterwards share discoveries in a mini-plenary. Some pupil discoveries might be that: - the shepherds and the Wise Men are mentioned separately, not together. - there’s no mention of a donkey or a stable! (The family could have been staying inside an inn, but there was no cradle, so they had to improvise!) - Jesus was nearly killed by Herod’s soldiers. - Joseph was originally thinking of cancelling the marriage to Mary. - The Wise Men didn’t ‘follow the star’ to Bethlehem – they turned up at Herod’s palace in Jerusalem, thinking the baby was born in the obvious place – a royal palace! - Herod’s researchers later sent them on to Bethlehem. - There were no ‘Kings’, unless you count Herod. there was no snow, robins or Father Christmas! Differentiated Activities To tackle the Luke passage, SEN pupils will either need an adult reader, or to be paired up with a more able child.

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Key Stage 2, Lesson 1 Literacy

More Able pupils should be challenged to begin tackling some of the following questions: a) Which do you think are the three most important bits of the story of the Nativity? Why? Explain your choice. b) Why do you think people have sometimes added these other elements (the donkey, the Kings, the stable) to the story and left out some of the nastier bits? c) Do you think it matters if you add a donkey, a stable, or Three Kings, or does it spoil the story in some way? Extension Activities 1) Tell the narrative of the original Christmas story in a ‘minisaga’, of exactly 50 words. Pupils will need to include at least 5 key elements to succeed in this. 2) Explain why you think this story is still told around the world, and performed in many schools at Christmas. What makes it popular with so many people? 3) Create a set of commemorative stamps for the Royal Mail, that re-tell key elements of the original Nativity story. If there is time, design and make a special mini-folder to keep them in, which should include a written explanation for the key elements portrayed on each stamp.

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Key Stage 2, Lesson 1 Literacy

Plenary Discuss: what do you think this story is actually saying about . . . -

Jesus? Powerful people? The poor not-so-powerful people? God?

Why do you think this story is still told around the world?

Teacher information T The star in the original narrative is seen to ‘go ahead’ . . . but all stars seem to ‘move’ through the night, since we live on a revolving planet! For the stargazers, it was astrologically correct, and in the right direction when they set out from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. The wise men were probably astrologers from the Persian empire, which centred on the city of Babylon – today, the setting of modern-day Iraq. The shepherds on the hills were poor herdsmen, probably the least important members of their society – and (significantly) ritually ‘unclean’, being unable to undertake the traditional Jewish religious practices of daily ritual washing. In the original story story, they were the first to be told about the birth. The angels are seen to be supernatural messengers of God.

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Key Stage 2, Lesson 1 Literacy Worksheet 1 Name ................................

Bible Detective!

List some of the things that you think could be part of the Christmas story, then tick them off if they are in ‘It’s a Boy!’. Then check them in the original versions written by Matthew and Luke. Character, event or other element which might be part of the story ‘It’s a Boy!’

‘It’s a Boy!’

Matthew Ch. 1.18-25 Ch. 2. 1-18

Luke Ch. 1.26-38 Ch. 2.1-20

Mary is told she will be having God’s baby. They go to Bethlehem on a donkey Jesus is born in a stable

List here any elements in the original narratives that surprised you – and say why.

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