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It Started With A Smile

Even the smallest actions can have consequences

by Kirk Hayles

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To help children think about how even the smallest actions can have consequences (SEAL theme 2: Getting on and falling out).

Preparation and materials

  • You will need six or more children to start a game of Chinese whispers. Have some daft sentences in your mind that you can use – ‘You have hairy feet, but I know you love to play basketball’, for example!


  1. Ask the children if they have heard of Chinese whispers – what is meant by this?
  2. Line up the six or more children, explaining that you are about to whisper something to the first child, which is going to be passed on down the line until it reaches the end. They are not to change the words, the children just have to pass on to the next child whatever they hear.
  3. Ask the last child what he or she was told.
  4. Tell the children what was actually whispered to the first child.
  5. Play the game one more time.
  6. Talk about how different the final version was from what was originally said and how we cannot always perhaps know for sure what has been said once a story has been passed on by several people. Can we, for example, be sure that someone really has said something mean unless we have heard it ourselves directly from that person?
  7. Explain to the children that what we say and do nearly always has an impact in some way and then tell them the following story.One day, a young girl was walking with her family in the park when a man came towards them. She thought he looked very sad. The little girl gave the man a big smile as he walked by and the smile seemed to make him feel better. It reminded him of a friend who had once been kind to him, so, that evening, he wrote the friend a thank you letter.

    The friend was very pleased to get the thank you letter and it put him in such a good mood that he left a large tip for the waiter who served him his lunch. After work, the waiter walked out of the restaurant and gave a few coins to a man on the street.

    The man was really grateful because, for two days, he’d had nothing decent to eat. After he finished his dinner, the man went back to where he was staying. On the way, in the cold and pouring rain, he picked up a shivering puppy that had been abandoned and took him home for the night until he could take him to a shelter in the morning.That night, the house where he was staying caught fire. The puppy barked and barked, waking everyone up, and saved them all from harm.   All this happened because of a simple smile that hadn’t cost anybody a penny!
  8. Recap the story, saying, if it hadn’t been for the puppy barking because of the man on the street taking him home and the kind waiter for giving a few coins because of the good tip he’d received from the man who had got the letter from the man who had been cheered up by the little girl’s smile, perhaps those people wouldn’t have survived the fire.Explain that the things we do and say can have a big impact. We don’t always know who they will affect, when or in what way, but perhaps we should always think if what we say and do is positive, so the impact is always a good one.

Time for reflection

Dear God, Help me to think about what I say and do. Help me to realize that even something as small as a smile can have a big impact.


‘I will bring to you the best gift I can offer’ (Come and Praise, 59)

Publication date: October 2013   (Vol.15 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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