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Earthquakes and bombshells

To explore the possibility of unwanted surprises and shocks in our lives.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To explore the possibility of unwanted surprises and shocks in our lives.

Preparation and materials

  •  Images of recent earthquakes and/or the 2004 tsunami.


  1. Ask questions about recent earthquakes – Where? When? What happened? Explain that the first problem about an earthquake is that it is unseen and unexpected. Although some early detection is now available people often have no warning of the impending danger. In the wealthier earthquake zones of the world attention is paid to the structure of new buildings so that they might better withstand a quake but sadly many of the countries on fault lines – where earthquakes are likely to happen – such as Haiti, are very poor.
  2. The second problem is that earthquakes are far-reaching both in time and place. Earthquakes under the sea set off great waves that can sweep across oceans and cause devastation when they reach the shores of islands and countries, crashing into them as a great tidal wave or tsunami.

    There was a tsunami on Boxing Day 2004 when the islands affected had no warning of what was going to happen. Now, following this disaster, many countries have equipment that ensures that they know if there has been an earthquake and if there is a wave approaching.

    The chaos and suffering left by natural disasters sometimes take years to put right.
  3. What might disturb our lives today? Thankfully, in the UK it is unlikely to be an earthquake.

    But we don’t know what today will bring and some of us here in assembly might have to face things that seem as big to us as an earthquake or a tidal wave. Someone might have to face something unexpected today, something that is the result of someone else’s actions. 

    It could be that a very good friend has to move away, or a family member becomes sick; it could be worry because a parent has lost a job, or it could even be the thought of leaving a familiar teacher. We sometimes call these unexpected shocks ‘bombshells’.
  4. We can’t prevent change in our lives, but what happened after the recent earthquakes might give us hope. Remind the children of how wonderful it was to see the way the countries of the world rallied to provide immediate relief for the victims near the epicentre of a quake. (Perhaps some of the children and their families, or the school, gave a donation.)

    Explain that there always seem to be thousands of kind people all over the world who give generously of their money, their expertise and time to do all that they can to bring relief to the victims, no matter how many natural disasters there are.

Time for reflection

Let’s reflect for a few moments on the many kind people there are in our lives.

We all want to help where we see people sad and frightened and hurt.

Even if a bombshell was to hit us today there are people all around us who would be there to help us through.

Dear God,
We pray for the people who are still recovering from recent earthquakes.
We ask that you would continue to provide the help and comfort they need
through the kindness and love of others.
We thank you that you know the future for us too
and ask that whatever comes our way today
and in the days ahead
you will provide us with care and support through others.


‘God who made the Earth’ (Come and Praise, 10)

Publication date: July 2010   (Vol.12 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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