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Friends or fiends?

To reflect upon positive patterns of friendship (SEAL theme 2: Getting on and falling out).

by The Revd Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To reflect upon positive patterns of friendship (SEAL theme 2: Getting on and falling out).

Preparation and materials

  • On A4 sheets of white card, write in black the seven letters of the word ‘friends’, one letter on each card. Paint the reverse side of each card red or attach a sheet of red paper. Again in black, write the six letters of the word ‘fiends’, one on each card, leaving out the card with ‘r’ on it.

  • Some Halloween devil’s horns would add to the fun of this assembly!
  • Seven children prepared to hold the letters to form the word ‘friends’. The holder of ‘r’ should know how to put this card to one side and to don the devil’s horns. The others will need to practise flipping their letters to form the word ‘fiends’, in a suitably fiendish manner!
  • (Optional) Older children might be involved in the preparation of this assembly by enacting and photographing scenes from the story for a PowerPoint presentation (remember safeguarding).


  1. Begin by outlining the aim of the assembly and invite your helpers to display the word ‘friends’.

    Ask: What kind of person makes a good friend? Affirm that it is someone you can trust and who is caring, good fun and willing to share.
  2. Reflect that it can be very upsetting when these qualities are lost and ‘friends’ become ‘fiends’. (Ask for the letter ‘r’ to be dropped while the remaining letters are fiendishly reversed.) Explain that a ‘fiend’ is someone who deliberately acts in ways that are hurtful and upsetting.
  3. Introduce this short story to illustrate how ‘friends’ can become ‘fiends’.

    Latika and Serena were best friends. Everyone was used to seeing them together at playtime and their other friends in their class liked playing with them. They would often phone one another after school, too. Both girls were members of ‘Stepping Out’, the local dance school.

    But suddenly everything was different. It began at the Year 6 disco when Latika got upset because Serena wanted them both to spend time with Amy and Morgan.

    The following morning the two girls looked unhappy and weren’t talking. And then Latika joined up with a group of girls who started to say nasty things to Serena.

    Things got even worse. When they saw Serena crying, some others in the class began to pick on Latika.
  4. Invite the school community to consider how two friends have become fiends. What lessons might be learned? Note how others have been drawn into the dispute. How might Latika and Serena’s friends have supported their friendship more responsibly?
  5. Reflect that the word ‘friends’ becomes ‘fiends’ when the letter ‘r’ is missing. That ‘r’ might stand for RESPECT.

    Refer back to the story. Even in the closest of friendships there must be respect for one another’s freedom to choose. True friendship also respects and includes others.
  6. Invite the school community to consider possible outcomes to the story. Is this the end of Latika and Serena’s friendship?

    Observe that feeling and saying sorry would be a way to restore their close friendship. Friendships are not always ‘for ever’. Perhaps, as well as apologizing, Latika and Serena need to allow each other to develop their individual interests and personalities. They’ll be helped to do so if they have respect for each other.

    (Helpers restore original letters, reintroducing the ‘r’.) Respect turns fiends into friends!

Time for reflection

Invite everyone to be thankful for their friends and to reflect upon a wise saying:
We should behave to our friends as we would wish our friends to behave towards us (Aristotle).

Lord God, thank you for the gift of friendship.
Help us to respect our friends
and to do all that we can
to stop friendships from being spoiled.


‘As One’ (from Songs for Everybody, Out of the Ark Music)
‘Peace I give to you’ (Mission Praise, 477)
‘God is love; His the care’ (Come and Praise, 36)

Publication date: October 2011   (Vol.13 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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