|Suggestion for collective worship - primary level
|Tell the children Hans Anderson's story of the Ugly Duckling.
|One spring a mother duck sat on her nest close to a pond near a farmyard. She had five eggs in her nest. She kept them warm so that they would hatch. One by one four of the eggs cracked and tiny ducklings pecked their way out. They were very pretty. The mother duck was very proud of them. She wanted to take them to the farm-yard to show them off to the other ducks. But the fifth egg had not hatched and the mother duck went on sitting there to keep it warm while the little ducklings tried out their legs and practised saying "Quack".
|At last the fifth egg began to crack. First a beak poked out, then a head, then the whole egg broke and out stumbled the fifth duckling. But oh dear, it was much bigger than the other ducklings and nothing like such a pretty, fluffy, yellow as the others were. In fact it was very ugly.
|When the mother duck took her babies to the farmyard the ducks there, and the other animals, said how nice her ducklings looked. But they made some very unkind remarks about the fifth duckling. "I don't think that is a duckling at all," said an old duck. "I think it's a turkey!"
|Some of the ducks pecked at the fifth duckling, and pushed it hard.
|"Show us you can swim," they said, "otherwise we shall know you are a turkey. An ugly gobbling turkey! Turkeys cannot swim." But when the mother duck went to the pond, all the five ducklings joined her in the water.
|"No, you're not a turkey," said the mother duck. "You do look rather odd, but you are my own fifth duckling."
|But now the old farmyard turkey joined in the bullying. "Of course you're not a turkey, you ugly thing," he said.
|Poor duckling. His brothers and sisters didn't like him because he was bigger than they were. "We hope the cat catches you," they said. "We don't want you swimming on the pond with us." The chickens mocked him. The older ducks went on pecking him. And the girl who fed the chickens even kicked him. "Take that, you ugly thing," she said.
|The duckling was so unhappy that he flew away. He flew over the hedge and across a field until he came to a great marsh where the wild ducks lived. But the wild ducks were just as cruel as the farmyard ducks. "Go away, you nasty ugly brown little thing," they said.
|The little duckling hid in the reeds. There two geese found him. "Why don't you come with us," they said. "We don't mind how ugly you are. Fly with us to another marsh where we live."
|But two hunters with guns were lying in wait for the geese to shoot them to take them home for their dinners. When they flew up above the reeds there were two loud bangs and the geese fell to the ground. The duckling was terrified. He hid in the reeds until the hunters had gone and then he ran, and flew, and flew, and ran as far as he could.
|The next day the duckling went on again. Then he came to a cottage where a woman lived with her hen and her cat. She took the duckling in and fed it. But the hen teased it and called it rude names for being ugly. And as the duckling grew a little older the woman grumbled at it because it did not lay eggs.
|"You are no use to me," she said. "I am not going to feed you any more, you ugly, useless thing."
|Once more the duckling was driven out. It was autumn now and the weather was getting cold. The duckling travelled on looking for fresh lakes or rivers where it could swim and hunt for fish to eat. One evening, just as the sun was setting, it saw some beautiful white birds, with long necks and graceful backs, swimming on a lake. As he watched them they rose up into the air on strong white wings and flew off. The duckling uttered a strange cry. He felt that they were so lovely. He did not know what they were. But how he wished he could have joined them. "But they would only have bullied me and driven me out," he thought.
|Winter arrived. The duckling had a very hard time. He was often very cold and hungry. He was lonely, too. But he stayed at the lake where he had seen the beautiful birds. Sometimes he had to swim very fast in circles to stop the ice forming on his lake. One night there was such a hard frost that the water froze completely and he was held fast in the ice. The next morning a man found him, broke the ice and took him to his house. But the duckling was frightened there. He thought they would bully him like everything else did. He flew about in fear and when the man's wife cried out, he flew into her butter tub and then into her flour. He looked a very strange sight. The man's children tried to catch him and they struck at him with wooden spoons. But the duckling managed to get away.
|The rest of the winter was dreadful for the duckling. But then spring came again. The duckling set out again to find a new home. He came to a beautiful garden with sweet-smelling bushes and a beautiful river. And there on the river he saw three graceful birds swimming. They had lovely white bodies and long curving necks. They were just like the noble birds the duckling had seen on his lake. How he longed to join them. But he was afraid that they would hate him because he was ugly and they would peck at him and sneer at him.
|But the lovely birds saw him. One of them glided down the river towards him, its feathers fanning out like a sail. The duckling stayed still by the water's edge, bending its head down over the water, waiting for the first blow of the bird's beak.
|And then, looking into the water, he saw his own reflection. But what was this? Where was the ugly overgrown duckling with the brown feathers? All he could see was another graceful bird with a long white neck and a pure white body. He was just like the lovely birds himself. He was not an ugly duckling at all. He was a swan. He went forward into the river and swam happily among the other swans. He was accepted at last.
|The story of the ugly duckling has a happy ending. But think how unhappy the little swan must have felt when those ducks and other animals, and people were unkind to him, and bullied him.
|We cannot always be sure that there will be a happy ending when people are bullied. Sometimes people are so badly hurt and upset that their whole lives are spoiled. We must be very sure always that we are never unkind to other people. Whether they are like us or different we must not pick on them, or call them unkind names, or hurt them in other ways. Bullying is wrong. If ever someone tried to bully you, you must be sure to tell an older person, because bullies have to be stopped from doing harm to others.
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