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A scarf, a carrot and some lumps of coal: A white-winter assembly

To reflect upon the human experience of loss, disappointment and ‘moving on’.

by The Revd Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To reflect upon the human experience of loss, disappointment and ‘moving on’.

Preparation and materials

  • A scarf, a carrot and some small lumps of coal (alternatively stones/ pebbles).

  • The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.
  • The Bible verses (Lamentations 3.22–23) might be projected, set against a suitable image.

Assembly

This assembly reflects tradition in speaking of snowmen as male – gender-inclusive language can be used if this is felt desirable.

  1. Produce the scarf, carrot and lumps of coal/round pebbles. Reflect that you feel ‘rather sad’, and invite the children to imagine why. The items are all used in building a snowman! Explain that the carrot forms the snowman’s nose, and the coal/stones his eyes, teeth and buttons. The scarf keeps his neck warm!

    Relate your sense of sadness to the weather conditions. Perhaps a thaw has come after a substantial snowfall, and a snowman has melted away. All you have left is just ‘a scarf, a carrot and some lumps of coal/or round pebbles’. Or, maybe, snow has fallen and quickly disappeared, with insufficient quantity for any snowmen to be made. Hopes and plans have melted away. You can remember last year when it was possible to make a snowman – but now there is only ‘a scarf, a carrot and some lumps of coal/or pebbles.
  2. Invite the children to share their experiences. Who has made a snowman?
    Where and when? How long did he last . . .
    . . . and how does it feel when snow-people melt away?
  3. Refer to Raymond Brigg’s story The Snowman. Recall the adventures of the young boy as he flies through the air with a snowman that he has made. Together they visit the North Pole where they see the Northern Lights, join in the fun of a snowmen’s party and meet Father Christmas. They return home, but the next morning the boy discovers that the snowman has melted away in the sun. Reflect that many people find this part of the story very moving. As some of the children will know, sadly it isn’t possible to hold on to special friends for ever, whether they are real or made of snow! And, for everyone, after all the excitement of Christmas, life returns to normal in the New Year.
  4. Focus again upon the scarf, carrot and lumps of coal. Ask: ‘So is this all that’s left?’ Reflect that, in fact, there are other things that remain; for instance, the deepened sense of fun and friendship found in making a snowman. There is all that has been learned through the experience. There are good memories that will last, maybe a lifetime.
  5. Continue by reflecting that: ‘While Christmas and winter can be fun, the time comes when we must say farewell to snow if we’re to enjoy the warmth and life of spring.’ This can also be true of friendships. Moving on isn’t easy, but the best things in life can help us to look to the future positively and with faith. Conclude cheerfully with the thought: ‘Yes! Next year, if it snows, we’ll need this scarf, a carrot and these lumps of coal/pebbles too!’

Time for reflection

In the Bible, the book of Lamentations reflects an experience of sadness and sorrow, but there is this thought:

'The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.'

(Lamentations 3.22–23)

Prayer
Loving God,
Sometimes we are sad when special occasions are over
and when we must part from close friends.
Help us to look ahead with confidence and hope
knowing that, while the seasons change,
your love remains the same
today and for ever.
Amen.

Song/music

‘When night arrives’ (Come and Praise, 92)
‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases’ (refrain) (Complete Mission Praise, 666)

Publication date: February 2011   (Vol.13 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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