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Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To give thanks for our opportunities for relaxation.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a children's plastic bucket and spade and an adult's full-size bucket and spade and plastic models of a frigate and a small sailing boat (the latter are optional).
  • You will also need a flipchart or whiteboard.
  • Also a leader and two or three older children who are able to improvise. Alternatively, ask some children to write a short dialogue beforehand, describing the building of a sandcastle.
  • Have available the song 'We are sailing' by Rod Stewart and the means to play it at the end of the assembly. 


The two or three children sit and pretend that they are by the seaside. Place the children’s bucket and spade near them. They can paddle, eat ice-creams or indulge in any other seaside pursuit, but the main point is to talk about building a sandcastle.

  Building a castle? But this is supposed to be a holiday! Building sounds like work to me. After all, you need these to build with.

Produce the full-size bucket and spade.

Digging is hard work! What different sorts of work are buckets and spades used for?

Why do you think it's fun to build a sandcastle?

After all, it just gets swept away again by the waves! All the same, every year thousands of sandcastles are built by the sea, with moats and turrets and maybe decorated with shells. For many children – and  adults, too – building a sandcastle means that the summer holidays are really here.

Talk to the children about different kinds of holidays – not everyone has been to the seaside and not everyone is able to take a holiday away from home.

Ask the children to identify a variety of holiday activities. List them on the flipchart or whiteboard.

Which are also 'work' activities?

Examples might include reading, sport, drawing or painting, talking and doing things with others, building things, going to visit something or someone.

Point out, light-heartedly, that these are all activities we do at school in some way.

So what's special about holidays? Perhaps we don't really need them  . . .

Go on to explain that, during the holidays, we can do things at a different pace, in a different place and with different people. They are important times when we can change the way we look at things and, if we go away, 'get away from it all'.

I wish you all a happy holiday, whatever you do.

Time for reflection

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the world around us.
Thank you for holidays, a chance to play.
Thank you for the good times we share with our family and friends.
Thank you for the times when we can be quiet and alone.
Thank you most of all for being with us always.

Follow-up activities

  1. Encourage the children to think about what they like to do for relaxation. What school subjects might reflect those interests? Design a 'syllabus' for the holidays. What do the children think that they could do at home even if they are not going away on holiday?

  2. Look at a map of the UK and discuss the various sorts of holidays you can have at the places shown on it. Information can also be gathered from the local and national tourist boards. Many of these agencies have sites on the Internet and older children could practise using a search facility to find them.

  3. The children could make a map or guide to local places of interest in the area (including places of worship). Many cathedrals and other sites that are now important centres of tourism were originally places of pilgrimage – an early form of holiday! Find out more about the places pilgrims visited and the stories associated with them (such as Canterbury and Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales).


'We are sailing' by Rod Stewart. 

Publication date: July 2014   (Vol.16 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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