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Setting firm foundations

by Alison Thurlow

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To reflect on the sorts of things that will help the children to have a good and successful year (SEAL theme: New beginnings).

Preparation and materials

  • This and the following materials are optional.Prepare a suitable image to go with the parable of the wise and foolish builders – such as the one at: – and have the means to display it when the story is told in the ‘Assembly’, Step 3.
  • Prepare another image showing the list of suggested strong foundations given in the ‘Time for reflection’ section below.
  • Prepare a third image with the words of the limerick given in the ‘Prayer’ section below.
  • Have a flip chart and pens available to write up some of the children’s suggestions for firm foundations volunteered in the ‘Assembly’, Step 4.
  • Familiarize yourself with the song ‘Brick by brick’ by Steve Morgan-Gurr, Spring Harvest: Kids Praise Party (ICC, 1999,book and/or CD)or ‘The wise man built his house upon the rock’, available at:


  1. Introduce the assembly by saying to the children that, as it is the beginning of a new school year, you are going to spend a bit of time thinking about some of the things that could help them to have a good and successful year. Ask each child to turn to the person next to him or her and talk together about some of the things that they are really looking forward to this year. Listen to a few of their answers.

  2. Ask the children to turn back to their partners and talk about some of these things they are hoping to achieve, or get better at, this year. Again, listen to a few of their answers. 

  3. Comment that it is a good thing to have aims and ambitions. Say to the children that they are now going to hear a story from the Bible containing some good advice and it might help them to achieve some of those aims.

    The parable of the wise and foolish builders

    Show first image, if using.

    Jesus told his friends a story about two men. Both of the men wanted to build a house.

    The first man was very wise and he chose to build his house on a rock. It was very hard work, digging through all that rock to lay the foundations, but, when the house was finished, it looked wonderful and the man was very pleased with his handiwork.

    All of a sudden, a tremendous storm blew up and the wind and the rain battered the man’s new house, but it wasn’t a problem. The house built on the rock stood firm and was completely undamaged by the storm.

    The second man, however, was rather foolish and he chose to build his house on the sand. It was much, much quicker to dig the foundations in the sand than in the rock and his house was finished in no time at all. It, too, looked wonderful and the foolish man was pleased with his handiwork.

    When the storm blew up, however, and the wind and the rain battered the foolish man’s house, it shook and wobbled, then collapsed completely.

    Jesus told his friends that, if they listened to him and did the things he said, they would be like the wise man and would build their lives on a solid foundation.

  4. Ask the children what they think they can learn from the parable. 

    Suggest that it is important for everyone to have strong foundations in their lives. Ask for suggestions as to what some of those strong foundations could be. You could write some of their answers on the flip chart.

Time for reflection

Thank the children for their good suggestions and say that you have been thinking about what kinds of strong foundations could help them have a good and successful year and these are three of the ideas that you have come up with:

show second image, if using

– find some good friends you can trust who will stick by you
– don’t bottle up your worries – always talk to someone
(if appropriate) try reading some more stories from the Bible because they often contain very good advice.

Explain that, as it is such a good story, you have got a limerick version of it to read to them/ for you all to read together before you say your prayer.

Show third image, if using.

One house with foundations dug squarely
And one house built all willy-nilly.
When the storms came along
The first house stood strong
But the second collapsed like a jelly!
(Lucy Moore, The Gospels Unplugged, BRF, 2008)

Father God,
Please help us to build our lives on firm foundations
and to have a good and successful year.
We ask this prayer in Jesus’ name.




‘Brick by brick’ by Steve Morgan-Gurr, Spring Harvest: Kids Praise Party
‘The wise man built his house upon the rock’ 

Publication date: September 2014   (Vol.16 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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