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Everyday objects: pens

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To look at pens as an example of useful everyday objects that we take for granted.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a cheap pen.
  • You will also need examples of writing that are 'good' and 'bad' – not just in terms of how neat or messy they are but also how easy or difficult they are to understand, whether they contain helpful or unhelpful thoughts and so on.
  • Find a handwritten postcard or, if you prefer, you could use an example of writing that is special to you or someone else involved in the assembly.
  • Select a group of children to share in preparing their reflections on 'being thankful for the everyday objects that we take for granted'. They might like to use actual objects or pictures of them to illustrate their reflections and these could form a display afterwards. These could include, for example:

    – a tap for the clean, fresh water we use
    – a light switch for the electricity that is so important to us
    – some seeds or flour (something small) for the food that is grown for us to eat.

    It's best to make your own list, too, that includes a pen or perhaps you can make it with the children who will be sharing their reflections, but brief one to think about a pen.
  • As a follow-up, you could use a display area to show 'everyday objects' with the children’s illustrations of how they can be used for good purposes.

Assembly

  1. Share the examples of 'good' and 'bad' writing and comment on them.

  2. Show the postcard or other example of writing. Say that this is an example of how special a pen was to members of one family as this postcard was written by hand, telling friends and/or family that the writer was enjoying his or her time in a new place, and the pen was used to write the card.

  3. Today, instead of using a pen to write, more often, we use the telephone and talk with people or send a text. It's also easier to travel and see friends and family, so we don't rely on pens and writing as much as people did years ago.

    You might like to ask the children how this has changed the importance of sharing our thoughts and feelings. Words spoken can be forgotten or half-remembered, as well as treasured. Using a pen and writing things down can make them last longer.

  4. Ask if any of the children keep letters written to them or if they know someone who does.

  5. Let's listen to some words written by someone a long time ago. The pen he used wasn't a cheap pen like this (hold up the cheap pen), but was probably a quill pen, which is made by carefully carving the tip of a long feather to write with. Writing then – like now – was an important way of keeping in touch and sharing ideas. 

    The writer, Thomas à Kempis, lived in a time when the only way of producing books and so on to read was by writing them by hand. He spent many years laboriously copying out books so that that there would be more books for people to read. Using his pen, he wrote words like this paraphrase of one of his prayers:

    Write your blessed name, O Lord, 
    upon my heart,
    there to remain forever, 
    so that no riches, 
    no setback
    will ever move me from your love.

    Be like a strong tower defending me, 
    comfort me when I'm upset,
    beside me when I'm in trouble;
    and guide me through this life.
    Amen.

Time for reflection

Ask the children who have prepared reflections on their chosen everyday objects to come up and share their thoughts on them.

Let's think of how special, in fact, those everyday things are – how they make life good and how we use them.

First child Thank you for our pens, which help us  . . .
Second child Thank you for  . . .
. . .
Final child Amen.

Song/music

'Think of a world without any flowers' (Come and Praise, 17)

Publication date: June 2014   (Vol.16 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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