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Blank pages: Choices for a new school year

To help the children to think about the year ahead and about making right choices (SEAL theme 1: New beginnings).

by Alison Ball and Richard Seel

Suitable for Key Stage 1/2

Aims

To help the children to think about the year ahead and about making right choices (SEAL theme 1: New beginnings).

Preparation and materials

  • Blank exercise book.
  • Flip-chart with a blank sheet of paper on it.
  • Plastic sheeting to put under the flip-chart.
  • Small amount of black poster paint.
  • Either Godly Play of the temptation of Jesus (Google: ‘Godly Play temptation of Jesus).
  • Or  PowerPoint with pictures of desert, sun, moon, sandstorm, stones, mountain and Temple, and pictures of world capitals.
  • You may wish to prepare some of the older children to read the script (see section 3). If so, you will need three readers (to read Jesus, Narrator and the Devil), and a small group to be the Whisperers.
  • The story of the temptation of Jesus is in Matthew 4.1–11, Mark 1.12–13 and Luke 4.1–13.
  • The music ‘Promenade 2’ from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (see ‘Time for reflection’).

Assembly

  1. (Show the blank exercise book.) Who’s got a new book?

    Talk about how lovely it is to have an exercise book full of empty pages; how proud you used to be to write your name on the front cover.
  2. (Turn to the clean sheet on the flip-chart.) What should we put on it?

    Imagine this is going to tell the story of this new year in school from now all the way to the summer holidays – what sort of story will it tell?

    –  Will there be a happy ending?
    –  Will there be sad times?
    –  Will the journey through the year be difficult?
    –  Will you have lots of pretty pictures?
    –  Will some parts make you laugh?

    What would you like to see on the flip-chart at the end of the year?

    (Write up/draw ideas suggested by the children, and if necessary guide them towards making the right choices about what they can do to make the year go well.)

    –  Will the year ahead be neat or messy? Will there be lots of rubbings out or crossings out because of mistakes you’ve made?

    (Throw paint over the flip-chart!) It’s partly up to us; we can choose whether to mess it up or not.
  3. There’s a story in the Bible of Jesus starting out. Like us, he has a clean page and some choices to make.

    (Use the following script; you can read this yourself or choose some of the older children to play the different parts. Use suitable PowerPoint pictures if possible.)

    Narrator  After Jesus had been baptized, he was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. The wilderness is a dangerous place; people don’t choose to go there unless they have to. There’s no food and little water. It’s very hot by day with no protection from the blazing sun. And it’s very cold by night so you need warm clothing. And the sand whips up in a storm, stinging your eyes and your skin.

    After Jesus had spent 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness, the devil came to tempt him.

    Whisperers  If you are the Son of God . . .

    Devil  If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.

    Narrator  Jesus wondered. He was very hungry and bread would taste good. But Jesus said:

    Jesus  No! It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

    Narrator  Then the devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, the holy city, and placed him on top of the Temple and said:

    Whisperers  If you are the Son of God . . .

    Devil  If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written that God’s angels will catch you and hold you up.

    Narrator  Jesus wondered. If he threw himself from the top of the Temple and God’s angels saved him, then people would know who he was and they would follow him and do as he said. But Jesus said:

    Jesus  No! It is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’

    Narrator  Then the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the countries of the world and said:

    Devil  If you bow down and worship me, I will make you king of all of these.

    Narrator  Jesus wondered. To be powerful and be king would be a good thing. But Jesus said:

    Jesus  No! Go away from me! It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’

    Narrator  Then the devil left him and God’s angels came to care for him.

Time for reflection

What choices will you make in the coming year?

–  In your friendships?
–  Cheating in sports?
–  Doing what your teacher has asked?
–  Doing your homework on time?
–  Following the school rules and class rules?

(Play ‘Promenade 2’ from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, which lasts about a minute, as the children reflect in silence.)

Prayer
Dear Lord,
thank you for this new beginning.
Help us to make the right choices during this coming school year.
Help us to make good friends.
Help us to help each other.
Amen.

Song/music

‘One more step along the world’ (Come and Praise, 47)
‘My God is a good God’ (see http://www.lyricstime.com/bishop-paul-morton-god-is-a-good-god-lyrics.html)
‘Promenade 2’ from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition

Publication date: August 2012   (Vol.14 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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