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Time Travellers

To reflect on our experience and use of time. To mark the start of a new year and new school term.

by The Revd Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To reflect on our experience and use of time and to mark the start of a new year and new school term.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a large clock, a diary, and a calendar or year planner.
  • A large orange football and smaller blue/green ball.
  • A group of children could prepare the reflection for choral reading.


  1. Refer to the fact that a new year and term have begun (on January …) and explain that time is divided up in different ways.

    The calendar shows the months and days of the year. The length of our year is based on the length of time it takes for the earth to go around, or orbit, the sun. Demonstrate by asking a volunteer to hold the orange football (the sun) and using the smaller ball to represent the earth.

    At the same time as it orbits the sun, the earth is spinning around. When our part of the earth faces the sun it is daytime. But as the earth turns it also takes us away from the sun. It goes dark and becomes night.

    This happens just over 365 times in the time it takes the earth to go around the sun. So there are normally 365 days in a year. There are 366 days in a leap year (every four years) to allow for the fact that actually the earth turns 365 and a quarter times on its yearly journey.

  2. The clock shows how each day is divided. Invite the children to recognize that each day is divided into hours (24), and minutes (60 to the hour).

    So we have lots of time to use! 365 days, each with 24 hours, will make up the new year.

  3. Refer to the diary - did anyone have one for Christmas? Does anyone keep one? Invite the children to reflect that it is also our different activities that divide up and mark the passing of time.

  4. Review the activity pattern of our school days. When is it time for registration, or dinner-break, or home-time? In the new year, 190 (adjust for accuracy if necessary) days will be spent at school.

    But the other days will be weekends and holidays. What do the children enjoy doing on Saturdays and Sundays? What activities don't they like?

  5. In the new year there will be special days to look forward to. Nationally, there will be celebrations for the Queen's Golden Jubilee. There will be family celebrations as well. Most of us will have birthdays to look forward to. Has anyone already had their birthday for this year? Perhaps there will be sad and difficult days. No one ever knows quite what the future holds in store. What will have been written in the diary at the end of this year? Would anyone like to be able to know the future - or to travel back in time?

  6. Conclude by reflecting that although we know there are 24 hours in a day and there will be 365 days in 2002, we also know that no two days are ever quite the same! As the earth spins and travels around the sun, so much depends on the plans we make and the way we use the time that is God's gift.

Time for reflection

(The first four stanzas of these words could be voiced rhythmically, by contrasting voices, accompanied by a number of children slowly whispering 'tick, tock', or the sound of a metronome. A single, strong voice should read the prayer, after which the 'tick, tock' whispers should cease.)

Time travellers
by Alan Barker

Day-time, night-time
school-time, home-time
lesson-time, play-time
tea-time, bed-time

time for yourself, time for friends
good times, bad times
happy times, sad times
times to look forward, times to remember

winter-time, spring-time
summer-time, autumn-time
Christmas-time, Easter-time
picnic-time, harvest-time

time for yourself, time for friends
time for giving, time for caring
time for receiving, time for sharing
times to look forward, times to remember

Father God,
Thank you for your gift of time.
Help us to spend it well
and to know you are with us
every day,
throughout the years,
until the end of time.

'He has set the right time for everything' (Ecclesiastes 3.11). Ecclesiastes 3.1-6 reflects on our contrasting life experiences. These ancient words of wisdom express the belief that all our times are in God's hands.


'Lord of all hopefulness' (Come and Praise, 52)

Publication date: January 2002   (Vol.4 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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