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The power of words

To encourage the children to think about the power of words, how they can harm and how they can heal (SEAL theme 3: Say no to bullying).

by Manon Ceridwen Parry

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To encourage the children to think about the power of words, how they can harm and how they can heal (SEAL theme 3: Say no to bullying).

Preparation and materials


  1. Explore with the pupils the power of words. Tell them that by just saying one word, you can change how they feel.

    Give everyone a second or two to take in what you have said. Do they believe you?

    Wait for a few seconds and say: ‘Here it is – here is the word – CHOCOLATE!’
  2. How did they feel when they heard that word (hungry, warm, fuzzy?)?

    What images popped in to their heads? A favourite bar of chocolate, maybe? Or a chocolate fountain?

    Have fun with the pupils (and teachers!) exploring their responses to the word.
  3. With our words we can change not just people’s feelings, but people themselves.

    For instance, someone who is an ordained minister in the Church can change people and make them different just by saying a few words.

    You don’t mean that a minister can change someone from being a boy to being a frog! It’s not like magic! But a minister in the Church can conduct weddings. And when in a wedding a minister says the words, ‘I therefore proclaim that you are husband and wife’, the minister is actually changing the people from being two separate single people to being a married couple.

    Another example is in a law court. When a jury or a judge says that someone is guilty or not guilty of a crime, that person’s life is changed for ever.

    Or take doctors. Doctors have a lot of power when they have to give patients good or bad news.

    Words are powerful.
  4. There’s another group of people who know the power of words – poets. Poetry can make us feel different things and poets know this. A poem called ‘Human beings’, written by Adrian Mitchell, was chosen in 2005 as the poem people would most like to send into space to be read by the Universe!

    This poem is written for everyone, not particularly for children, and it’s a difficult poem in many ways. It has some difficult ideas in it, such as war. But the message of the poem is very important – that we should try to get along with one another because what makes us different from one another is nothing compared with what makes us the same. We are human! (Read the poem.)
  5. End by reiterating that words have power.

    How can we use our words to make people feel good and happy?

    What must we not do with words? (Say nasty things to people, make them feel bad.)

    We may not have the power of a judge or a doctor or a minister in the Church, but our words are powerful just the same.

Time for reflection

Reread some of your favourite sections of the poem.

Lord God,
words have power -
help me to use my power carefully today and every day.


‘’Tis the gift to be simple’ (Come and Praise, 97)

Publication date: January 2013   (Vol.15 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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