Ordering the story (contextual enquiry)

Remind the pupils that before reporters write their story, they research the available information gathering it together into chronological order. The information about the birth of Jesus comes mainly from two books in the Bible, Luke’s Gospel and Matthew’s Gospel, so we will start by looking at those.

Give out the first page of the downloadable worksheet The Christmas Story as Told in the Bible. This shows parts of the story from those gospels, in the order of the videos played above. The right-hand column is (an abridged form of) the biblical text; and the left-hand column is a picture from the videos with a short textual summary. As appropriate for your pupils, read and invite them to read the text.

Give out the second page and the pictures cut out from the third page (and, if appropriate for your pupils, the connective words). Invite them to put the story in chronological order in the boxes down the left of the page, adding or writing their own connective words (the generally recognised chronological order is as per the third page).

This activity provides opportunities for differentiated teaching and scaffolding learning about the challenges of working out chronology from biblical text. For example, there is a strong traditional belief that the wise men arrived at Bethlehem some time after Jesus’ birth, and many Christians celebrate this as the ‘Feast of Epiphany’ on 6th January. Indeed it is not clear from the biblical account how many wise-men there were and the belief that there were three arises from the three gifts they carried. Many biblical scholars believe that the writers were more concerned about communicating the significance and meaning of the accounts they record rather than their exact chronology. This provides an opportunity for linking towards the next lesson when we will look at the meaning and significance through some journalistic writing.

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