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Strong Foundations

To reflect upon personal strengths and successes, with an optional reference to school leavers.

by The Revd Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To reflect upon personal strengths and successes, with an optional reference to school leavers.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need two cardboard tubes (up to 5 cm diameter and 30 cm in length), a sheet of sandpaper, a shallow container and a bag of small pebbles.
  • Children to take part in the drama:
    Two builders, perhaps wearing hard hats.
    Two groups of about six each to represent the buildings.
    Two groups again of about six each to represent the elements.
  • This could involve a whole class if the size of the buildings and elements were increased.
  • Practise the drama and your engineering beforehand!
  • Ask two or three school leavers to speak (see option in 5. below).


  1. Ask if the children know what 'foundations' are. Invite them to consider their importance. Every builder and engineer knows that good foundations are vital. Demonstrate how foundations work, by standing one tube upright on the flat piece of sandpaper. Place the other in the container and surround the base with a generous layer of pebbles.

    Ask two children to simulate the force of the wind by blowing hard at the tubes. Reflect on why one falls and the other stands.

  2. Explain that any building must start with the construction of foundations, which will support the structure. The higher the building, the deeper the foundations! Of course, when a building is completed no one can see its hidden strengths, which remain so vital.

  3. Retell this story (or parable) that Jesus told (from Matthew 7.24-27). It helps us to think about our hidden strengths!

    Once upon a time there were two builders. Charlie Fool built his house upon sand.
    Builder smiles and indicates to a flat area.

    The work was quick and easy and the building was soon finished.
    Six children quickly take up position, three standing on the floor and three bringing chairs to stand on behind the others.

    Bob Wise built his house on rock.
    Builder mimes the use of a pickaxe and mops his brow.

    The work was slow and hard.
    With the help of the builder, three children slowly and carefully position chairs and kneel behind them.

    The building took a long time to complete.
    The builder helps three children in turn on to the chairs. Those kneeling help to steady them.

    When they were finished, both houses looked fine. Until, one day, there was a tremendous storm. Rain poured down. Rivers overflowed. Strong winds blew.
    The two other groups of children mime the elements with strong 'whole-body' actions, directing their energies towards the houses.

    The house on the rock stood firm and strong.
    The waves, wind and rain beating against the house built on rock subside and move away.

    But the house built on sand collapsed to the ground.
    Waves, wind and rain overwhelm and pull down the house built on sand until the actors lie sprawled together on the floor.

    Jesus said: 'Think about the two house builders. "Anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock"' (Matthew 7.24).

  4. Allow a few moments of quiet reflection. Then ask the children what this story is telling us, and affirm their responses. Invite them to contrast the attitudes of the two builders. Why was one called 'wise'? Introduce the thought that the best ways and choices are not always the easiest ones. Sometimes we face hard challenges. If we build upon challenges that are hard (like rock!) we can discover the hidden 'strengths' and abilities within each one of us.

  5. Reference might be made to those preparing to leave school at the end of term. Their present school experience will hopefully provide a foundation upon which to build in the future. Two or three school leavers could be asked to speak of an element of school life that they feel has helped them to become a stronger person.

Time for reflection

Dear God,
Thank you for the challenges we find together in school,
and for the ways in which they can help us to learn more about ourselves,
to discover our hidden strengths,
and to build for the future.


'The building song' (Come and Praise, 61)


Scriptures quoted from the Good News Bible published by The Bible Societies/HarperCollins Publishers Ltd UK © American Bible Society, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.

Publication date: July 2002   (Vol.4 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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